"Been there, dune that."
- Master MP
Once again, Management at MILES PEDDLED (MP) has gone the extra mile in service to its LOYAL SUBSCRIBERS (LS). This time sending an exploratory team, lead by the camp leader in training the RENAISSANCE MAN (RM) accompanied by his beautiful and gregarious camp utilization manager JULIA CHILDS (JC), to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to explore the biking and kayaking options in this area. Their findings are the subject matter of the September 2023 Edition of MP entitled: BIKING THE DUNES. Playlist suggestion: SLEEPING BEAR (DUNE SONG) by Roger MacNaughton.
Before we get to the subject matter of this Month’s Edition, Management has a cautionary tale and a follow-up to past Editions of MP. Past Editions of MP can be accessed at: https://www.milespeddled.com.
First, the cautionary tale. As all of the LS to MP know, Management is obsessed with requiring its LS to wear bike helmets. Remember, the third rule of biking is: Safety First. Unfortunately, one of the LS to MP decided to take an ebike ride through the City without a helmet. This foolish soul hit a bump, fell to the ground, and struck his head. After several hours in the emergency room, he was pronounced to have had a concussion but no cognitive loss. Some would say it would be difficult to determine whether this individual suffered any cognitive loss. Be that as it may, Management demands that its LS wear bike helmets. Playlist suggestion: DON’T HURT YOURSELF by Beyoncé featuring Jack White.
Stay tuned for the November 2023 GIFTING GUIDE which will make helmet recommendations.
Now to the follow-up:
As the LS will recall, in the juggernaut June/July Ed. of MP, Management outlined several places to camp with nearby excellent biking. A follow-up was had in the amazing August Edition of MP. This Edition outlined several camp areas with trails from New York to Idaho. One does not have to travel this far, however, to find a nice little campground with nearby biking. Just visit the southwest corner of Cook County and enjoy the following:
· Camp Bullfrog Lake
Camp Bullfrog Lake (CBL) is located in Willow Springs and has several full hook-up campsites and also numerous tent campsites right on Bullfrog Lake.
From the campground you can access numerous mountain biking trails in the Palos Woods. The trails are rated easy, intermediate, advanced, and expert. For these trails you will need either a mountain bike or a fattie.
Also, from the campground you can access portions of the IM Canal Trail, the Centennial Trail, and the Cal Sag Trail all of which are either paved or consist of crushed limestone easily ridden by a hybrid or gravel bike; or even a road bike with the appropriate tires. A little added bonus is Pollyanna Brewing Taphouse located in Lemont with a nice outdoor area overlooking the IM canal.
Now to the Dunes!
SBD is located in Michigan’s lower peninsula. It hugs the northeast shore of Lake Michigan and includes both the south and north Manitou Islands. SBD was named the “Most beautiful place in America” on ABC’s Good Morning America. When you get there you will know why – you feel like you’re on the coast of an ocean with tranquil natural beauty coupled with and Midwestern charm.
This Edition will outline 2 must-ride trails; and, 2 must-kayak paddles. As usual, use Google Maps or the more enhanced DMAPS to plan your trip.
1. SLEEPING BEAR HERITAGE TRAIL (SBHT)
SBHT is the only bike trail in SBD. The trail is mostly paved but has a short section of crushed gravel. The trail spans approximately 21 miles from Empire, Michigan on the south up to Bohemian Road on the north. There are sections of the trail that are quite hilly with steep grade changes in the range of 7% to 10%. The trail runs past beaches along Lake Michigan, through forest and farmlands, attractive little towns, and crosses over the Crystal River. It is one of the most beautiful rides you will ever take.
From the south trail head in Empire, you will proceed north where after approximately 7 miles you will be at the “Dune Climb.” Get off your bike and challenge yourself to walk the dunes over to Lake Michigan.
After completing the dune climb, get back on your bike and continue north through the attractive town of Glen Arbor. Stop and have a glass of some of the most exotic tea in the world at Great Lakes Tea and Spice Company.
After your invigorating glass of tea, get back on your bike and continue the ride to the end of the trail. At this point you will have 2 options: First, to turn around (don’t do it- BE BOLD); or Second, to ride approximately 10 miles up M22 (a relatively nice shoulder on the road) to the town of Leland, commonly referred to as “Fish Town.” Visit the Village Cheese Shanty for some local cheese and smoked fish and have a nice picnic lunch.
After lunch, get on your bike and reverse the trip back to Empire. This entire journey will be approximately 62 miles. When you arrive in Empire make sure that you get to the beach in time for the spectacular sunset.
SUNSETS FOR SOMEBODY ELSE by Jack Johnson.
2. LEELANAU TRAIL (LT)
The LT is a 17 mile paved bike trail that runs from Traverse City on the south to Sutton’s Bay on the north. It wraps around and provides beautiful vistas of 3 bodies of water those being the east arm Grand Traverse Bay, the west arm Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Leelanau.
Start your journey on the south end in Traverse City with breakfast at Greenhouse Café.
After breakfast, ride the trail north and enjoy the beautiful scenery until you arrive approximately 17 miles later in Sutton’s Bay. Walk around town, take in the sights, and have lunch at Martha’s Leelanau Table.
After lunch reverse the trip and proceed south down the LT. While traveling south stop at one of the many wineries along the trail such as MAWBY and SHADY LANE CELLARS.
TWO MORE BOTTLES OF WINE by Emmylou Harris.
3. CRYSTAL RIVER (CR)
As noted above, when you ride the SBHT you will cross over the CR. This is one of the cleanest most beautiful rivers that you will ever have a chance to kayak. It travels through Glen Arbor, Michigan. You can drop in on the east end of the river and take a 3 to 4 mile paddle and end up in Glen Arbor or go a little further to Lake Michigan.
For those that do not have their own kayak contact CRYSTAL RIVER OUTFITTERS located in Glen Arbor who will rent you a kayak and drive you to the launch point. You end at their facility in Glen Arbor. Right across the street is the M22 WINERY.
4. PLATTE RIVER (PR)
Put in at the PR paddle trip launch near the Lake Township Hall and have a leisurely 3 mile paddle down one of the clearest rivers you have ever been on which terminates on the shores of Lake Michigan. Climb over the dune and take a dip in the big Lake. This is a spectacular paddle down the lower PR that runs through the SBD National Lakeshore.
For those who do not have their own gear, hookup with RIVERSIDE CANOES.
Time for the Trivia/Quiz section. According to DMANOPEDIA, the story of the SBD is as follows:
Mother Bear reached the shore first and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. The cubs drowned within site of the shore. The Great Spirit created 2 islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the eternal vigil of Mother Bear.
This is the story of SBD. Below are 5 questions about SBD. The answers will be in the postscript section.
1. How old is the SBD? 500 years, 1,000 years, 2,000 years, or 3,000 years.
2. True or false, SBD is the World’s largest collection of freshwater sand dunes?
3. How high is the highest dune at SBD? Approximately 400 feet, 235 feet, 132 feet or 103 feet.
4. Are there bears in SBD?
5. Are there mountain lions in SBD?
TEASE TIME: Where can you have beautiful fall colors, warm weather, and an excellent wine trail? The answer is Southern Illinois. Hence, the October Edition of MP will be entitled: BIKING THE SHAWNEE HILLS WINE TRAIL. Playlist suggestion: HEAVEN WAS A DRINK OF WINE by the incomparable Merle Haggard.
Time to go but remember: “You may delay, but time will not.” - Benjamin Franklin. So, get out there and R, R & R!
Answers to Trivia/Quiz Section:
SBD is estimated to be approximately 2,000 years old.
2. FRESHWATER SAND DUNE
SBD is the largest collection of freshwater sand dunes in the World.
A bit of a trick question. For a long time, SBD stood approximately 234 feet high with a dense plant cover. However, through most of the 20th Century, erosion has prevailed. By 1961 the SBD were only 132 feet high and by the end of 1980 they were down to 103 feet. What does the future hold? It seems that present trend will continue, and it will only be a matter of time before the bear disappears. Thus, do not delay your journey.
Black bears are an important and exciting part of the SBD lakeshore. These are the only type of bears found in Michigan.
5. MOUNTAIN LIONS
The National Park Service has conducted road and trail surveys and has not detected any cougars in SBD. If, however, you travel to either Frankfort or Glen Arbor and visit one of the local taverns, you will run into many cougars on the prowl.