2016-09-22 / Front Page

New trail opening pushed back again

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


THE NEWEST leg of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail includes a boardwalk over Narada Lake with an overlook. THE NEWEST leg of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail includes a boardwalk over Narada Lake with an overlook. The newest section of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is set to be fully open in mid- October — just in time for fall colors but quite a bit later than first anticipated.

“The timing should be great for people to ride on the trail as part of a color tour,” said Tom Ulrich, deputy superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

“But that’s true for the rest of the trail already.”

Despite holding a ribbon-cutting in June, the newest leg of the trail is not yet all the way open.

That segment is about 3.8 miles long and runs from Port Oneida Road to Bohemian Road. About half of the new section where it runs through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District is crushed aggregate. The rest is asphalt.

A boardwalk was designed to take hikers and bikers over Narada Lake. Workers have waited several months for material needed to finish the boardwalk section.

The latest hold-up is for beams to create a small overlook on Narada Lake. The beams, which are a little larger than those used to build the boardwalk, are slated to arrive on Friday, Ulrich said.

Work is expected to be done by the first week in October, but a few minor items on a punch list also need to be completed that likely will push the trail’s opening to about the middle of the month, Ulrich said.

Total trail length is now about 17 miles long, starting at the Bar Lake Road trailhead in Empire and ending at Bohemian Road, where a left hand turn will take bikers to the Lake Michigan shoreline.

While there are hardwoods along the entire trail that provide good color in fall, the section from the Dune Climb south to Empire may be best for color, Ulrich said.

A final section of the trail is designed to run north from Bohemian Road and along Traverse Lake Road to Good Harbor Trail.

But residents along Traverse Lake Road have long said they don’t want the trail there and have filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service to prevent its construction. The NPS and trail planners are now awaiting the judge’s final decision in that suit.

Once the lawsuit is settled, design and engineering plans can move ahead, said Julie Clark, executive director of TART Trails.

Options remain for the route of the trail, Clark said. The path could share Traverse Lake Road or it could go through the Lakeshore, depending on the outcome of the lawsuit.

The final cost of the trail will also depend on its route, she said. Fundraising has not begun for that segment, Clark said.

“We’re pleased with the progress to date and the response from trail users,” she said. “It’s great to see them out there and we’re excited to finish.”

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Please pave the entire trail

Please pave the entire trail