The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is the biggest recreational project supported by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Prior to the Summer of 2012, there were no trails in the National Lakeshore where bicycles could be ridden. This new trail provides a wonderful new recreational opportunity for families and individuals to experience the Park outside of their cars. We hope people will park their cars and either walk or safely ride bikes to many of the popular destinations in the Park. Check out this video of the trail.
When complete, the trail will be a 27-mile hard-surface, multi-use trail that starts at the Beach Access at County Road 651 near the northern boundary of the National Lakeshore and runs roughly parallel to the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route of M-22 and M-109 to the Benzie County line at Manning Road south of Empire. The trail will go through Glen Arbor, Glen Haven, the Dune Climb, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center and Empire.
The first 4.25-mile section of the trail from Glen Arbor to the Dune Climb opened on June 20, 2012. The second segment of trail from the Dune Climb to Empire opened July 1, 2014. The next section of trail from Glen Arbor to Port Oneida Road will be open in 2015 and the section from Port Oneida Road to Bohemian Road (CR-669) will be open in 2016. The south-end segment from Empire to Manning Road and the north-end segment from CR-669 to CR-651 await funding.
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a project of the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route committee of Leelanau County and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Learn more about how you can donate toward building the next segments of trail http://sleepingbeartrail.org/.
The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has been involved in this project since it’s beginning. We strongly support this trail through donations, grants, and volunteer time. We have agreed to maintain and operate the trail, and we have established a network of volunteers: Trail Ambassadors, who ride, walk, or ski the trail on a regular basis and are available to help visitors and report maintenance issues and our Trail Crew that does maintenance to keep the trail clear and safe. Want to become an Ambassador or member of the Trail Crew? Contact Kerry Kelly, Trail Ambassador Manager.
The Campaign Cabinet for the fundraising activities has been very successful in getting grants and donations for design, engineering, and construction of the trail. At this point, about $8 million has been raised through federal grants. These funds require a matching donations for completion, and to date, about $2.2 million has been donated by private foundations and individual donation.
Visitors and community members have been using the trail daily since it was opened in 2012. Surveys of trail users have shown that the tail is being used primarily by groups of family members and friends. The most frequent comments we receive are that they love the trail – and want it to be longer! We’re working on it!
Trail signs have been installed on the first 10-miles from Glen Arbor to Empire. The signs and the development of the SBHT Trail Ambassador program were funded by a grant from the National Parks Foundation Active Trails program. This program is funded by a grant from the Coca Cola Foundation.