Construction Crews Setback By Spring Snow, But New Section Of Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Still On Track To Open In May

Despite the April’s surprise snow, the new 3.8-mile section of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, running north of Glen Arbor, is still set for completion by Memorial Day. The new stretch, running from Port Oneida to Bohemian Road, will bring the multiuse pathway to 17 miles and will include a mix of boardwalk, paved trail and aggregate.

Check out the details along with some interesting Heritage Trail facts from a 2015 visitors’ survey.


Before the first April snow hit, it was looking like spring was coming early to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Late in March, trail crews were already at work clearing sticks and debris in preparation for construction crews set to begin work on the newest 3.8- mile section of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.

“After the first storm, the laying of the stone and paved section along with the construction of the boardwalk around the edge of Narada Lake was rescheduled for March 24th,” says SBHT’s Pam Darling. “Now with word of another storm headed to the region, that date has been pushed back again.”

Despite the delay, Darling says the hope is still to have the trail open and ready for foot and bicycle traffic by May 30th; however, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony set to be held at the Kelderhouse Farm had to be moved to Friday, June 24th because of a scheduling conflict with TART Trails’ Smart Commute Week June 6th-10th. 

Heritage Trail Visitation On The Rise

According to Darling, when the new trail section running from Port Oneida to Bohemian Road opens it will eventually offer visitors trailhead parking on Port Oneida Road and an outdoor vault toilet.

Darling also provided updated information on trail visitors taken from a 2015 survey conducted by the nonprofit Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes. While last year’s survey efforts were cut short after the devastating August 2nd windstorm, the numbers still show a marked increase in visitation.

“People surveyed in 2015 came from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, California Florida, Pennsylvania and Canada,” says Darling. “The trail had over 60,000 visits last year—up from the 50,000 visits recorded in 2012 and 2013.”

Of the users surveyed, 80-percent were cyclists while 60-percent of trail users were with family and 25-percent were with friends. Another interesting data point to note—one that shows the economic impact of the trail—was the average distance traveled by surveyed visitors who came to the Lakeshore to use the trail: 56-percent resided more than 50 miles away. Likewise, surveyed trail users were split equally between men and women—a fact that bucks a national trend showing that similar multiuse trails are predominately used by men.

Click here for Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail information, including an interactive map that shows mileage, access points and more.

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