Every year over a million visitors make their way up M22 in northern Michigan, passing through the town of Empire to reach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a year round destination for campers, hikers, cyclists and those seeking a weekend getaway.
Summer is a popular season as visitors struggle up the 110-foot high Dune Climb or take the leisurely drive along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. But for those able to spend a little extra time hidden corners wait to be explored.
Four miles north of Glen Arbor and within the northern portion of Sleeping Bear Dunes is the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. Twenty turn of the century farms, barns, cemeteries and schools, scattered along back roads and paths, are all on display allowing visitors a chance to experience what life was like too live without many of the modern day conveniences we take for granted.
Just south of the Port Oneida district and sitting along the shores of Sleeping Bear Bay is the Glen Haven Historic Village. The logging village has been restored to what it looked like in the 1920’s and features a general store, cannery boathouse, and blacksmith shop.
After exploring Glen Haven head west to the Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station Maritime Museum. Exhibits explain the history of U.S. LIfe-Saving Service and the U.S. Coast Guard along the Great Lakes.
Winding its way through the lakeshore is the park’s newest addition, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.
The paved, 16-mile non-motorized trail connects Empire with Port Oneida allowing walkers and cyclists access to many of the park attractions along the way. Pending construction includes an additional 11 miles to be added to the trail.
So the next time you have a free weekend, make the drive up to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, spend the night in a tent, a hotel, or a B&B, and enjoy the rich history of this amazing area.