Free Ranger-Led Summer Bike Tours at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Bike riders at Sleeping Bear Dunes N.L.

Visitors enjoy riding the back roads of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. NPS photo.

Like to tour some of the backs roads at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore by bicycle, and pick up some information from a ranger along the way? The park is offering free, ranger-led bike tours two days a week through September 2.

The tours are B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bike) will be available on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and will cover between seven and ten miles on two different routes. The park describes the rides as "moderate in difficulty and strenuous at times; tours will be on gravel, dirt, and some paved roads. Mountain bike tires are appropriate.

Helmets are recommended, and children should be at least 10 years of age. Riders are reminded to bring their own sunscreen, bug spray, water, and camera, and asked to ensure that bikes are in good condition. You'll find details, including times and where to meet, at this link.

The tours are a continuation of similar trips developed over the past two years by Interpretive Park Ranger Ryan Locke, and in addition to a fun ride, will focus on how invasive species are affecting native plants and animals on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The bike tours are part of an educational effort by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which according to the park, "is funding many ecological restoration projects around the Great Lakes, including ones at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. GLRI also has an educational component intended to let people know about the threats posed to the Great Lakes by invasive species."

“While we will be offering our usual wide variety of daily Park Ranger-led walks, historical demonstrations, and evening campground programs, the GLRI is providing park visitors and locals the opportunity to see and learn about the National Lakeshore with a knowledgeable bike guide,” said Superintendent Shultz. “Ryan worked with us as an intern the past two summers pioneering the bicycle program, so he is quite familiar with the park and is very excited about continuing these bike programs.”

The Wednesday tours, "Discovering the Changing Landscape: North of Glen Arbor," will ride through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, staring at 5:00 p.m. Thursday's ride begin at 11 a.m. and will focus on "Aliens in the Ecosystem!" and follow a route south of Empire, through an agricultural landscape, ghost town, and former logging area.

No reservations are needed, and there's no cost for the trips. Participants do need to purchase the park entrance pass to join the rides ($10.00/vehicle valid for seven days or $20.00/vehicle for an entire year). Participants are asked to be prepared for all kinds of weather, and dress appropriately for changing conditions.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in Northwestern Lower Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan. The Visitor Center is in Empire, MI about 25 miles from Traverse City. The park website has information to help plan a visit; if you need additional details about the bike trips, you'll find them here, or you can phone the visitor center at 231-326-5134, ext. 328.