This trail is a hard-surface, multi-use trail, which runs about 22 miles from Empire through Glen Haven and Glen Arbor to Bohemian Road. It is perfect for walking, biking, and cross-country skiing. The trail section from Empire to Glen Arbor is groomed for skiing in the winter.
The trail is generally asphalt, but in some areas you will find boardwalk over wetland areas and in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, it is packed, crushed stone. Most of the trail is accessible and suitable for wheelchair use. Eventually, the trail will be extend to CR-651 on the north and from Empire to Manning Road on the south.
Download a detailed Interactive Map of the SBHT – go to the trail web site www.SBHTmap.org.
Details for SBHT – Empire through Glen Arbor to Bohemian Road
Location: You can get on the trail at several points:
Trail Length: 20 miles one-way from Empire through Glen Arbor to Bohemian Road (CR-669) in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.
Terrain: The trail goes through wooded areas and a short area through dunes between Glen Haven and the Dune Climb. The trail also goes through Glen Arbor on streets. There are two sections of boardwalk north of Glen Arbor and areas where the trail goes along the edge of historic farm fields.
Trail Tread: Most of the trail is paved with asphalt 10 feet wide. For 3 miles as the trail goes through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, the trail tread is packed stone.
Difficulty: The section between Empire and Greenan Rd and has several steep slopes and hills and may be challenging. The paved asphalt trail is gentle and rolling with only a few moderate grades between Greenan Rd and Glen Arbor. The section through Glen Arbor is on streets, so be careful of traffic and pedestrians. From the Crystal View Trailhead to Bohemian Rd is generally flat and gently rolling hills. There are a few moderate hills in this section but nothing challenging. This section has a boardwalk over wetlands near Westman Road and along the edge of Narada Lake. Most of this section is asphalt, but once the trail enters the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, the trail surface changes to packed crushed stone.
Empire to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
There is a trailhead parking lot and vault toilet located near the corner of Voice Road and Bar Lake Road just north of Empire. A spur trail leads south from the parking lot to Lacore Road, which goes south into the village of Empire. Heading north from the parking lot, you will enter deciduous forest and some challenging hills as you climb toward the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. While there is a bike lane on the Scenic Drive, we do not recommend riding here because the Scenic Drive is winding and has some very steep slopes. It also has a lot of automobile traffic during the summer. There is a spur trail that leads to the lower parking lot at the Scenic Drive, where there is a vault toilet.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to Dune Climb
Heading north from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, the trail goes down a steep, long hill to Greenan Road (We call it “The Bear”. You’ll understand when you ride your bike back up!). Be prepared to use your brakes going down this hill because there is a STOP sign at the bottom! And remember this hill for your return trip, because it is quite a challenge riding south! Save your energy. There are several resting areas on the side of the trail where you can catch your breath.
The trail from Greenan Road to the Dune Climb follows M-109 closely and is generally easy with just a few rolling hills. There are several driveways on this section, so be on the lookout for vehicles in the driveways. When you arrive at the Dune Climb, you can find modern restrooms at the southern end of the parking lot near the Dune Center. Picnic tables are located at the foot of the Dune Climb and benches are located at the main SBHT Trailhead near the northern end of the parking lot. Browse the donor recognition panels and see who has contributed to building this fabulous trail. If you have the energy, take off your shoes and climb the dunes for an awesome view of Glen Lake!
Dune Climb to Glen Haven
Riding north from the Dune Climb takes you into deciduous forest for a couple of miles on relatively flat terrain. When you see the trail straighten out, you will be riding on the roadbed of the historic narrow gauge railroad that carried lumber from the DH Day sawmill on Glen Lake to the dock in Glen Haven. You will also see some open dunes in this stretch of trail.
The trail enters the village of Glen Haven and crosses Main Street at the Sleeping Bear Inn, General Store, and modern restrooms.
This road is heavily used in the summer, so beware of cross traffic that does not stop!
Glen Haven is a historic logging village and is home to a working blacksmith shop, General Store, and Cannery Boat Museum. Just down the road to the west about half mile is the old US Coast Guard Station, which is now the Maritime Museum. Glen Haven beach access is next to the Cannery. This is a perfect place to stop on your journey, learn a little history, and get your feet wet in Lake Michigan!
Glen Haven to Glen Arbor
The trail continues from Glen Haven about ¼ mile to the DH Day Campground. As you ride through the campground be aware of pedestrians and campground traffic! Especially in the summer, campers are walking the campground loops, going to the beach, restrooms, or interpretive programs in the campground. As you ride through the campground, look to your left and you will see the DH Day Log Cabin. This is a historic landmark from when the campground was the first State Park in Michigan. DH Day was the first Michigan State Park Commissioner, and he donated the land and built the cabin for use in the park. As you leave the campground, the trail turns right onto DH Day Main Road, a seasonal county road, which has very little traffic, but cars are allowed on this part of the trail.
The trail then crosses M-109. Traffic at this intersection does not stop and is often moving fast. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHEN CROSSING M-109. Look both ways and make sure you have enough time for your whole group to cross safely.
The trail winds through a beautiful thick forest and follows along the base of Alligator Hill, which provides an impressive wooded bluff as background to the trail. The trail goes along the ridge of ancient Lake Michigan shoreline in this area too. You can see the ridges and swales of the ancient beaches as you go along the trail. On August 2, 2015 a severe windstorm struck this section of the trail knocking down many of the large trees that used to provide a beautiful canopy. The result of that windstorm is obvious in this section. Interpretive signs tell the story of the storm.
When you come to Forest Haven Road, you are on the western outskirts of Glen Arbor. You will now be sharing the road with automobile traffic through the Village of Glen Arbor. Please follow traffic rules and STOP at stop signs. You will find signs to guide you through the village, but here is a short description of your route through Glen Arbor.
Turn left and ride to M-109 and turn right and ride through downtown to Oak Street. Turn right on Oak Street for a block to State Street. Turn right on State Street and ride a block to Lake Street. Turn left on Lake Street and ride a few blocks to Northwood Drive. Turn left on Northwood Drive and ride about 1.5 miles to Fisher Road. Turn left on Fisher Road and ride to the Crystal View Trailhead Parking Lot. Now you can get back on the paved trail.
Glen Arbor (Crystal View Trailhead) to Port Oneida Road
Be careful when you cross Crystal View Road. Traffic does not stop and may be moving at a high rate of speed. After crossing Crystal View Road, ride the boardwalk over the wetland along Westman Road. The trail crosses M-22 near the entrance to the Homestead Resort. This is also a busy highway intersection with traffic moving at a high rate of speed. STOP AT THIS INTERSECTION! Traffic does not stop. Be sure you have enough time for your whole group to cross the intersection safely.
The trail now winds through a beautiful wooded area that is part of the Bay View Hiking Trail. Bikes are not allowed on the rustic hiking trail, so stay on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (SBHT). There are a couple of areas where the rustic hiking trail intersects with the SBHT. At these points, you may drop off your bike and walk up the hiking trail for a view of Sleeping Bear Bay, South Manitou Island, and Sleeping Bear Point.
About a mile after crossing M-22, the trail surface turns from asphalt to packed crushed stone. The trail is now entering the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. Because of the historic nature of this district, asphalt surface was not appropriate to the historic viewscape. Be careful when the surface changes. The crushed stone can be loose in spots and riders must exercise more caution to avoid slipping.
A spur in the trail goes to the Bay View Trailhead Parking Lot on Thoreson Road. Going along the trail north of Thoreson Road, you will ride along historic farm fields at the edge of the forest. Imagine watching the farmers working his fields with a team of horses or an old tractor. The trail will approach the Charles Olsen Farm, which is the headquarters of Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring historic structures and landscapes in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. They have an exhibit of the Port Oneida Rural Historic District in the house. Stop by, take a break, and visit with their knowledgeable volunteers as you browse through their exhibit.
The trail continues about ½ mile to Port Oneida Road and the Kelderhouse Farm. There is a parking lot, vault toilet, and picnic tables at this stop. Take time to explore the Port Oneida School across the road and the Kelderhouse Cemetery.
Port Oneida Road to Bohemian Road (CR-669)
The trail continues near M-22 but winding through the edge of the forest. It crosses in front of the historic Lawr Farm and then crosses Basch Rd. About half mile further and the trail comes to an old log cabin and a boardwalk that crosses over the edge of Narada Lake. The boardwalk offers a great place to observe wildlife: beaver, otter, and a wide variety of birds. The old log cabin is the North Unity School. It was a one-room school built about 1878 to educate the children of the bohemian farm families that settled in this area.
The trail surface changes back to asphalt just past Narada Lake and continues along M-22 until reaching Bohemian Road (CR-669). The trail ends at that point but bikers can ride about 0.75 miles north to the Lake Michigan beach at Good Harbor, where there is a drinking fountain, vault toilet and picnic tables.
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail in Summer
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail in Winter