Ball Foundation Supports Emergency Trail Repair Efforts

Ball Foundation Supports Emergency Repair Efforts on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
Foundation Donates $10,000.00 in Wake of Devastating August 2nd Storm

The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail after the storm
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail after the storm

TRAVERSE CITY, MI- On Sunday August 2, a storm ripped through the small town of Glen Arbor and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore that left massive destruction in its path.  As a result, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail was completely closed down with trees, branches, and storm debris covering the pathway.  In particular, along the section of trail between Glen Arbor and Glen Haven, especially near Glen Arbor, the devastation of the forest was profound. For years to come, visitors will see trail scenery completely transformed by the storm – down trees, and once closed canopies now gaping with holes the size of football fields.

Thanks to the work of volunteers led by the Friends of Sleeping Bear and the strong partnership of the National Park Service, the community was able to quickly bring the Heritage Trail back to life. Over the past three weeks, hundreds of volunteers spent thousands of dollars and hours clearing the trail. After the heavy lifting of opening the trail and making it passable, volunteers found there is still much work to be done – the trail and signage were damaged during the storm and trees and debris continue this fall.

To support these efforts, the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation, based in Muncie, Indiana, and with long-time ties to the region has made a first of its kind grant from the Foundation, providing $10,000 to TART Trails to help support storm related clean-up efforts along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. The Foundation, which helped fund the development of the trail, is supporting volunteer efforts to ensure the trail’s safe and scenic recovery.

“This was important to the Foundation. We do not do emergency grants, but the size and scope of this storm was exceptional,” said Chuck Ball, associate executive director of the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. “TART and its partners are an important part of the beauty and character of Leelanau. Adding extra cleanup support for the Heritage Trail to a recently approved general grant for trail planning stretched our overall grant funding, but it was for a great cause.”

Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich said, “The donation of the Ball Foundation to re-open the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail after the devastating storm epitomizes the way this community has pulled together and supported one another through this difficult time. We are grateful for their contribution toward giving this trail back to the people who love it.”

Kerry Kelly, Chairman of the Board for the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes offered his praise commenting, “The community response to clearing the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail after the August 2 storm was amazing. The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes organized volunteers to work with the National Park Service Tree Crew to clear the trail from down trees and to make it safe for our visitors to ride. We had over 100 volunteers working over 700 hours in the past two weeks. This generous donation from the Ball Foundation supports the efforts by our volunteers. It really was a team effort. Together we made rapid progress to get the trail open and safe!”

In total 138 volunteers (85 of them brand-new) worked 1,053 hours over the course of 6 days — running chainsaws, loppers & hand-saws and hauling brush — with no accidents/incidents.  Friends of Sleeping Bear Ambassadors continue to monitor the trail and remove weakened trees that continue to fall.

The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a project of the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route Committee (LSHR). Trail development is a partnership between the LSHR Committee, the Michigan Department of Transportation, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, and TART Trails. Funding for trail development comes from federal and state grants, foundations, and individual donations.

Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, Inc. is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization working to enrich the region by providing a network of trails, bikeways and pedestrian ways; and encouraging their use. For more information about TART Trails, please visit

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a unit of the National Park Service established in 1970. The Lakeshore preserves the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the area so that all may experience and appreciate it. Significant resources of the Lakeshore include forests, beaches, dunes, and glacial landforms, as well as maritime, agricultural, and recreational historic features.

Find Your Park The National Park Service is beginning to plan its upcoming 2016 Centennial Celebration. The goal of the Centennial is to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates. To do that, the NPS is inviting everyone to “Find Your Park”! Find Your Park is a way for all of us to share the way we enjoy our parks on social media. If you are out having fun on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, you can share your photos or videos using #findyourpark, or by posting on

The entire trail is now open!

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Friday, August 14, 2015 Update
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is OPEN! Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has officially opened the section of Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail between Glen Arbor and Glen Haven this afternoon.The Bike Route Connector Route through Glen Arbor is still CLOSED due to large-scale logging operations on Northwoods Drive and Fisher Road. For those who want to ride the northern section of the trail, we suggest you park at Crystal View Trailhead or Port Oneida Road and ride there.
For more details and volunteer information, visit the Friends Of Sleeping Bear website.
For more details on other local trail systems visit the TART Trails’ Trail Maintenance page.

The 4th annual Dune Dash

Join us for the fourth annual Dune Dash 4-mile run/walk on Saturday, August 15th. The race course showcases the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail located in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Starting and finishing at the base of the Dune Climb, runners follow the flat, paved Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail past rolling dunes and beautiful forests to the turn around point at historic Glen Haven. Don’t miss your chance to experience what will soon be known as one of the most beautiful scenic runs in Michigan if not the country.

All proceeds from this event will go to the continued construction and maintenance of Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. The trail has been cleared since the big storm on Sunday, August 2nd. The stretch between Glen Haven & Glen Arbor is still closed but is expected to open very soon. This closure will not affect the Dune Dash route.


A 4-mile run/walk along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. (Course)


The race will start and finish at the Dune Climb in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. (map)


The race starts at 9am Saturday, August 15, 2015.

Who Benefits

All proceeds from this event will go to support the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.

What’s the cost?

Adult 18 and up $30
Teen 13-17 $20
Child 12 and under $15

NOTE: Prices go up by $5 after August 13th. The Sleeping Bear Dunes charge an entrance fee of $10 per vehicle if you do not already possess a park pass.

Visit for all the event details, online registration and volunteer information.


The Glen Arbor to Port Oneida Trail is Open!

The newest section of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail from Fisher Road to Port Oneida Road opened Friday May 22 at 3:00 PM, ahead of schedule and just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The new trail segment will add about 3.5 miles to the 9.5 miles of previously completed trail.  This portion of trail includes 600 feet of boardwalk over wetlands along the west side of Westman Road and will connect users to the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. Check out the new interactive map  on your computer or smartphone. It provides as much detail as you want about the trail conditions, parking, bathrooms, museums, and businesses along the trail. Check it out!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich shared his enthusiasm for the new trail, “We are excited to have the newest section of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail open in time for Memorial Day. It offers a beautiful ride through another part of the park, and takes you over wetlands, through forests, and into historic Port Oneida. The Heritage Trail has something for everyone to enjoy – so get up, get out there, and #findyourpark!”

In 2016 trail construction will resume and the trail will continue on to CR 669 (Bohemian) and eventually all the way to Good Harbor.

Locals and tourists alike are looking forward to getting on the trail and exploring the park in a whole new way.  Matt Wiesen, owner of Crystal River Outfitters and the Cyclery knows first-hand the trail’s appeal and impact on the community. According to Wiesen, “The opening of the new portion of the Heritage Trail is very exciting for Glen Arbor.  This is yet another segment that allows us to showcase this region’s natural beauty.  The Heritage Trail continues to be a wonderful asset to both residents and visitors allowing them to get back within the National Parks boundaries and recreate.  It’s exciting to see cycling continue to grow as it benefits all of the merchants in Glen Arbor and allows us to attract visitors year round!”

The public is invited to attend the official ribbon cutting for the new section of trail on June 17, 11:00 AM at Olsen Farm in Port Oneida. 

The boardwalk by Westman Rd.
The boardwalk by Westman Rd.

People for Bikes $10,000 Grant

Banner for WebsitePeople for Bikes awarded a $10,000 grant for Phase II of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. People for Bikes is a national advocacy organization based in Boulder, CO. The selection was very competitive with over 147 projects requesting funding and only 8 grants awarded.

We look forward to celebrating the next segment of trail from Glen Arbor to Port Oneida in the spring.