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

Client Organization: 
National Park Service - Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA)
Project Location : 
Empire, MI
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.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Landscape Architecture
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Bob Grese
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
Project Status: 
Past Project