2016-10-27 / Outdoors

Latest trail segment now officially open

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

The long-awaited opening of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail from Port Oneida to Bohemian Road is in the books.

The newest segment of the trail officially opened Friday to pent up interest.

“A lot of people were riding on it before it was open,” said Kerry Kelly, chairman of the board for the Friends of Sleeping Bear. “They went right by the ‘trail closed’ sign, went down to the construction area and around M-22 to continue on.”

The first segment of the new trail segment between Port Oneida and where the boardwalk traveled along the shore of Narada Lake opened in June. However, trail users who abided the signs had an abbreviated outing as construction of the boardwalk was delayed several months.

The construction delay was blamed on hardware issues.

“The brackets that go on the pilings to hold the decking didn’t meet quality specs,” Kelly said.

Now completed, the new segment is about 3.75 miles long.

The newest segment completes a 22-mile route from Empire to Bohemian Road. Most of the trail is asphalt with the exception of a 3-mile section of crushed stone that goes through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District and extends to Narada lake.

“Every section of the trail has its own character, its own feel,” Kelly said.

The newly-opened trail section goes past the old North Unity School, a log cabin, built by Bohemian settlers in the mid-1800s.

“You can’t see it unless you know what you’re looking for,” he said.

It also offers trail users an opportunity for up-close viewing of Narada Lake, which is prime territory for birding.

“We were out Sunday blowing leaves off the trail. But it didn’t take long for more leaves to fall,” Kelly said.

An all-volunteer crew maintains the Sleeping Bear Trail year-round. In fact, there is a work bee set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Dune Climb trailhead to remove weeds in dune grass and spruce up the trailhead donor plaza.

Volunteers are also needed to help groom the trail, which will soon be used by cross-country skiers and for snowshoe hikers.

“The work involves driving or riding along in an (ORV) with a blower or groomer,” he said. “We work in pairs of two.”

Additional information about volunteer opportunities is available by calling Kelly at 231-631-4244.

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