Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
Opportunities for an “Along the Shore” segment
Let’s work together to create a real legacy!
The property owners along Traverse Lake Road in Leelanau County commend the extensive efforts in planning and constructing the first phase of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for recreational users (bikers, walkers, skaters, cross country skiers, wheel chair users, etc).
We are advocates in creating a similar superior Heritage Trail experience “Along the Shore” of Lake Michigan between CR 669 and CR 651, rather than routing the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail along a residential county road (Traverse Lake Road) which would create a substandard experience for the trail user.
We believe the standard of exceptional user experience that has been set by the Dune Climb to Glen Arbor portion should be the focus of efforts elsewhere along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.
The “Along the Shore” route between CR 669 and CR 651 would complement this first portion by creating a natural experience, resulting in this being America’s Most Beautiful Trail.
This “Along the Shore” route follows historical and existing roads, does not have significant environmental impacts (no wetlands, no clearing of mature forests, no large creek crossings, no removal of protected critical dune hills), does not impact private property owners, avoids public safety concerns, and is considerable lower in cost than the proposed alternative along Traverse Lake Road.
1. The “Along the Shore” segment would start at the northern end of CR 669, where there are improved
parking and restroom facilities. The trail would proceed east 4500 feet on Lake Michigan Road to the end
of road. The trail can use the existing road right-of-way or offset between the road and the beach, which
is not included in the “proposed wilderness area.”
2. The trail would then continue east following the old historical road another 4500 feet paralleling the
shoreline to connect with existing Juniper Lane. This proposed routing passes through an existing picnic
area and generally parallels along the beach at the transition area between dunes and forest, keeping the
pristine beach untouched. There would be no significant tree clearing necessary and the terrain is level
and stabilized, similar to the Dune Climb to Glen Haven portion of the recently completed Heritage Trail.
3. The “Along the Shore” trail would then continue east using the existing portion of Juniper Lane which
runs approximately 4300 feet. Juniper Lane is a gravel two track road which has been graded after work
last summer and was used to service residential homes through the 1980’s. No tree clearing is
4. At the end of Juniper Lane, the trail would continue eastward approximately 3400 feet following the old
historical beach road to the end of CR651 at the beachhead. There is substantial parking at this location
and improved facilities, making it an ideal staging area for trail users. Again, this portion of the trail
parallels the shore and runs through the stabilized dune transition area avoiding any critical dune hills
and keeping the pristine beach intact. Topography is flat and no clearing of mature trees is necessary.
We do not believe the current proposal by the National Park Service to route the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail down the residential Traverse Lake Road would be a desirable option for trail users, for the residents, for the environment or for cost-effective construction.