The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is more than just a Leelanau County bike ride. This 20-mile trail stretching from Empire to north of Glen Arbor features gorgeous views and great spots to stop, explore and eat. Dive in to find out the five legs of this trip to start planning your Northern Michigan adventure today.
A great way to tackle this trail is to spot a car at one end and brake at the at- tractions along the way. Here’s a snapshot of the trail’s highlights, beginning in Empire and heading north to the trail’s end at Bohemian Road.
LEG 1: EMPIRE TO THE DUNE CLIMB
Pick up sandwiches (you won’t regret this decision, trust us!) at Shipwreck Cafe, tuck them in your backpack for a picnic later and head off to the Bar Lake Road Trailhead. It’s about a five-mile ride with one big downhill (remember that’ll be uphill if you work this trail north to south) to the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb where there are picnic tables, bathrooms, a concession— and a chance to add a hike up this big, beautiful dune to your day’s workout.
LEG 2: DUNE CLIMB TO GLEN HAVEN
It’s about a 4.5-mile pedal along a wooded trail to tiny Glen Haven with its stunning beach, old-fashioned general store, the Cannery Boat Museum and nice bathrooms, all owned and managed by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. While you’re in Glen Haven, check out the renovation progress on the old Sleeping Bear Inn across the road from the general store.
LEG 3: GLEN HAVEN TO GLEN ARBOR
This stretch takes you through the D.H. Day Campground then back into the woods to Glen Arbor. This town is filled with eateries, shops and wine tasting spots. Check out the Glen Arbor section in “Small Towns, Big Charm” (in the 2021 Vacation Guide) for highlights.
Heading out to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail during the winter? Explore the ways you can Ski, Snowshoe or Bike the Scenic Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.
LEG 4: GLEN ARBOR TO THE HOMESTEAD
Just north of Glen Arbor, take time to pedal into The Homestead resort and explore the darling Mountain Village with its outdoor bar and seating at Whisker’s Bar and Grill, as well as the pizza, ice cream and other eats at Cavanaugh’s Grocerant.
LEG 5: THE HOMESTEAD TO BOHEMIAN ROAD
This section leads past Oleson Farm, headquarters for the Port Oneida Historic District that you’ll be pedaling past. Stop for a quick history lesson that will greatly enrich your experience on this last leg of the trail.
Note: When complete, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail will stretch 27 miles from the northern end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Good Harbor Beach at CR-651), to Manning Road, just south of Empire. Find more info at the Friends of Sleeping Bear website or the NPS website.
Find this article and more in the free, digital edition of MyNorth’s 2021 Northern Michigan Vacation Guide below; or get the Vacation Guide in print each year for free when you subscribe to Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, delivered to your door each month.