Sleeping Bear Dunes Bay to Bay Paddle/Backpack Trail (2014)

Client Organization: 
National Park Service - Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA)
Client is confirmed: 
Project Location : 
Empire, MI
Secondary Client Organization: 
Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes
Summary of Project Idea: 

The Bay to Bay Trail Masters Project focused on the planning of a 35 mile hiking and paddling trail along the shoreline of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  The Bay to Bay Trail is named such because it would extend from Good Harbor Bay south to Platte Bay. The project was sponsored by the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Michigan Office of the National Park Service and Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes. The team's process included research into similar trails, field investigations and analyses, and development of a conceptual design for the trail that includes alternative trail routes, campgrounds, and kayak launch sites. The team gauged interest in the trail and gathered input through interviews with local outfitters and user groups. In addition, perspectives on paddlers' and hikers' preferences on trail qualities and amenities were gathered through a set of surveys. Finally, a campground matrix was created to assess and evaluate potential campground sites along the trail. The team's survey and interview findings, maps of trail, campground, and launch site alternatives will be used in the Environmental Assessment of the trail. The water trail and kayak launch site data and analysis will directly benefit Michigan's contribution to the Lake Michigan Water Trail: a four-state effort to create a contiguous water trail around the perimeter of Lake Michigan. Conceptual designs of the campgrounds, launch sites, and trail signage will be used in public meetings. Additionally, the team created mock-ups for a website and brochure to be used by Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Park. In sum, the project will aid in the actualization of a dual water/hiking trail: an unprecedented recreational feature in Michigan.

Skills/Expertise Needed: 
  • knowledge of landscape architecture design within a naturalistic/open space context
  • knowledge of landscape planning
  • knowledge of GIS; remote sensing
  • writing skills
  • knowledge of environmental impact assessments
  • analytical skills
  • communication/presentation skills
  • project and management plan development skills
Secondary Client Confirmed: 
SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Landscape Architecture
Professional Career Development Benefits: 

Students will have the opportunity to work within a National Park Unit with NPS planners and staff and learn about park planning, environmental compliance, and park management and operations.  They will work in partnership with NPS Outdoor Recreation Planners, Friends Groups, municipalities, and recreation user groups and recreation providers to plan and design backcountry facilities and a recreation experience as well as an urban outdoor recreation facility and outdoor education experience.   They will have the opportunity to attend and possibly present a poster session at the Society for Outdoor Recreation Professionals conference in Traverse City, MI in May 2013.

Funding Sources: 

The National Park Service (Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program) can provide office space and seasonal housing while the student team is in the area for field work, project team meetings, etc. RTCA and Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes will look into additional funding sources to cover student travel to and from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and/or City of Warren, and costs associated with project material and supplies. 

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

The Bay to Bay Paddling and Hiking Trail Environmental Assessment, Development and Implementation Plan, and Signage and Visitor Information System - leading to construction of  the 30+ mile Bay to Bay Trail.  The Red Run Greenway and Outdoor Education Development Concept Plan, cost estimates and funding strategy, including Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund grant submittal. 

Contact full name: 
Barbara Nelson-Jameson
Job title: 
Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, Michigan Program Director
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Bob Grese
Contact Phone: 
(231) 334-3130
Advisor Confirmed: 
Contact information: 
SNRE alum
U-M faculty member
Our Organization has been an SNRE master's project client in a previous year
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Han-Yu Chan, MS Conservation Ecology
  • Emily Lauderdale, MLA
  • Sachin Shahria, MS Conservation Ecology
  • Shuting Wang, MLA
  • Fei Zhao, MLA
SNRE Student Contact: Emily Lauderdale, MLA 2014 (920) 750-1740
Project Status: 
Past Project