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27-mile multi-use pathway proposed for Leelanau

Wed, Oct  8, 2008 - By NW Michigan Council of Governments

The proposed Trailway plan and environmental assessment for a multi-use trail is intended to assist in the creation of a non-motorized trailway that will provide a continuous scenic pathway from the intersection of M-22 and Manning Road at the south boundary of Leelanau County to the north boundary of the Lakeshore at Good Harbor Bay, County Road 651, all within Leelanau County.

The pathway would be a combination of 10' wide paved asphalt pathway, 5' shoulder along some roads, crushed gravel pathways, and city sidewalks, with the occasional boardwalk.

The approximate 27-mile non-motorized multi-use trail will generally parallel M-22 and M-109, the major roads through the Lakeshore. The trail will be on public land, either Lakeshore lands or within the MDOT road right-of-way. The trail will be separated from the roadway wherever possible and will provide a safe, alternative transportation opportunity for park visitors and residents. It will connect the park’s primary visitor sites and facilities; including the popular Dune Climb, Visitor Center, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, D.H. Day Campground, Glen Haven Village, the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, Lake Michigan beaches, trailheads, and other points of interest within the Lakeshore. It will also provide a non-motorized trail connection between popular park sites and the village of Empire and the community of Glen Arbor.


Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route map


Over 1.2 million people visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore annually. The Lakeshore seeks to develop a multi-modal transportation system that will meet the park’s current and future needs. This includes the development of a cohesive non-motorized multi-use trail network within the Lakeshore that connects and provides non-motorized access to the park’s main visitor facilities, such as the Dune Climb (330,000+ visitors/year), Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive (430,000+ visitors/year), and Visitor Center (130,000+ visitors/year). The majority of the Lakeshore’s visitation occurs between the months of June and September. These facilities would be connected by the proposed multi-use trail, which will provide park visitors with safe non-motorized access and help relieve traffic and parking congestion at these facilities. Trail use projections are estimated for the first three years at approximately 350,000 – 400,000 visitors/year.

Current and future traffic is conveyed in several ways: State Highway M-22, a two-lane paved highway, is the major corridor through the park and carries the greatest traffic volumes. It is also the main road connection between the communities of Empire, Glen Arbor, and Leland. Traffic volume (2003) for M-22 north of Empire is under 2500 vehicles/day. Traffic volume south of Empire is between 2500 and 5000 vehicles/day. Traffic also utilizes M-109 which splits off from M-22 and provides access to other areas of the park and Glen Arbor. The proposed trailway would occur along this corridor as well.