Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Biking the Heritage Trail

Monday June 9, 2014
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

The Heritage bike trail is a paved trail which currently goes from the Dune climb to Glen Arbor, a distance of about 3.5 miles.  They are in the process of finishing an extension South to the village of Empire which will run mostly along M22 and through forested shade.  There are plans for expansions for the next few years to make the trail go even further north and south for a total of 27 miles.
Our plan is to bike North from the Dune climb parking lot to  the ghost village of Glen Haven, through the H.D. Day campground and on to Glen Arbor.
Our one and only wildlife sighting of the day occurs as we are driving out of the campground.  We’ve seen black squirrels in Pennsylvania but I didn’t know they were in Michigan.

We head out from the Dune Climb parking lot.  

Yes it is chilly enough for a heavy sweatshirt


We haven’t gone very far through the lovely woods before we are stopped by trail maintenance.  Apparently the emerald ash borer has killed nearly all the ash trees in the park and they are removing the ones they deem dangerous to the trail.  We wait while they work.  Notice that the flag man is a man and the chain saw wielder is a woman. 



On we go on this perfect day, blue skies, great clouds, cool temperatures.

Our first stop is the historic ghost town of Glen Haven.

We arrive at Glen Haven and ride into town to find that the General Store is closed.  Only open on week-ends until July.  What did I tell you?




So we peek inside since we didn’t know this yesterday and won’t be here next week-end.  Bummer.   Love the crank cash register and the bins full of “penny” candy.  I suppose it’s quarter candy now.

All around town are old photographs to see on your self guided tour.



Glen Haven has a very interesting story. 

C. C. McCarty, brother-in-law of John E. Fisher, founder of Glen Arbor,the next little town on our route,  built a sawmill and an inn on the beach west of Glen Arbor in 1857. He called the settlement Sleeping Bearville and the inn was named Sleeping Bear House. McCarty built a dock at Glen Haven in 1865. The location of the dock in Sleeping Bear Bay offered a more protected harbor than some of the other docks in the area
In 1878, Northern Transit Company President Philo Chamberlain acquired the now town of Glen Haven in order to assure a reliable supply of wood for a 24-vessel fleet providing service between Ogdensburg, NY and Chicago or Milwaukee. To serve as NTC's agent in Glen Haven, Chamberlain picked D. H. Day, his sister-in-law's younger brother. Before long, Day had bought most of NTC's properties including the village of Glen Haven.

It was H.D. Day’s Town.
According to an 1881 plat map, Glen Haven had 11 buildings including the inn, store, blacksmith shop, wagon shop, and school. Day retained the deeds to all of the more than 100 lots in the village. The D.H. Day store, which also served as a telegraph office, is currently operated as a General Store and Visitor Center for the Park. The second story of the store served as home for the Day family for some time.   To the north stood an icehouse where thick piles of sawdust kept as many as 5,000 blocks of ice weighing 150 pounds each frozen for summer use. The cutting of ice on Glen Lake was a major winter activity.

If the Sleeping Bear Inn were open today, I know it would do a land office business.

Near the dock on the west side of the road is the Sleeping Bear Inn. It was used as a boarding house for the lumberjacks and dock workers and for passengers that wanted to stay overnight or get a meal. The dock and Inn were built about 1865. The back part of the Inn was added on a few years later, and the porch was enclosed in 1928.
D.H. Day lived in a 2-room suite on the second floor of the Inn from the time he came to Glen Haven as the agent for the Northern Transit Company in 1878 until he married Eva Farrant (daughter of the Innkeeper) in 1889. The newly weds moved to an apartment in the second floor of the General Store.

Lumberjacks and dock hands worked 12 hours a day and six days a week. Most of them were single or their families had not come to join them yet, so they stayed at the Inn. The married workers lived in small shacks along Main Street. Most of Day's employees were of Norwegian and Swedish descent, and some came from a small settlement of Native Americans which was just east of the village and west of what is now the D.H. Day Campground.


The rear of the Inn overlooks the cannery and the shore.

Glen Haven was also an active recreation center for the Day family and neighbors, including the crew and families of the Sleeping Bear Point Lifesaving Service/Coast Guard Station. There was a 150x50 foot ice-skating and curling rink in the village. Day also built a tennis court complete with bleachers.

By the early 1920s D.H. Day had established the Glen Haven Canning Company on the shore near the dock. Day had established a farm and orchard south of Glen Haven where he had over 5,000 cherry and apple trees. The Canning Company processed the fruit and shipped it to market from the Glen Haven Dock. With improvements in the roads and rail service, the importance of the Glen Haven dock continued to decline until it was closed in 1931.  Today the Cannery is used as a Great Lakes Boat Museum and we can see the remaining stumps of the pier with gulls roosting on them way out in the lake.

H.D. Day was a man ahead of his time.
Glen Haven was a one man town built by a man remembered as a futuristic thinker who did not believe in clear cutting, he thought some trees must be allowed to regenerate themselves, a man who saw the future of fruit products for this area and who created the first state park in Michigan which is now a campground within Sleeping Bear Dunes named in his honor.
We go into the old Cannery now boat museum.   There are many old pieces of equipment used in the fishing industry and several old boats.  My favorites were the dug out canoe pulled from the lake and the unsinkable boat.


I wonder if Paul Dahl knew about this 36’ motor life boat which was the pride of the Coast Guard.  It’s the boat that made Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station obsolete. It was self bailing.  If storm waves washed on board, the openings in the railings let the water drain back into the lake.  It was self righting.  If capsized, the three air filled compartments and the one ton bronze keel made her quickly roll back upright.  It was unsinkable.  If smashed against rocks or a wrecked ship, the cork filled hull would stay afloat.  The 90 horsepower 6 cylinder Kermath engine was designed to keep running even when upside down,   Apparently, unlike the Titanic this amazing craft really was unsinkable.


The museum also has a picture of some of the cannery ladies and an example of the products they produced.


Time for the beach.
Only one beautiful thing left to see in Glen Harbor and that’s her beautiful beach.  The cannery has the perfect water view.


Glen Haven’s beach was mighty popular with all the towns folk.





We leave Glen Haven and head to the Light Saving Station.  

This one is very like the ones we visited in New England particularly on Cape Cod, it is equipped with line throwing canons and rowing life boats.
Built in 1901 among the dunes of Sleeping Bear the station was nearly buried by the moving sand. Horses pulled the building to this site in 1931.  This is a beautiful setting with lovely trees and blooming lilac


When I see the roof on the boat house, I wonder why we no longer use this great design for shedding water and I assume snow.

They have an original live saving boat, other original equipment and interesting information about the drills performed weekly to keep the crew sharp.  A volunteer work camper was there to answer any questions.  His wife was stationed in the cannery.  They both knew a great deal about their respective sites.


There are several small residences on the property for married crewmen.  The station master, his family and the single crewmen lived in the Station House.

There are numerous exhibits about their life and work. 

I particularly liked the clothing worn on watch when they were required to walk the beaches in search of craft in danger.   There was also a lighted map showing all the Lifesaving stations on Lake Michigan.  Having a light house and a lifesaving station were sometimes two different things.

We stop for all Lighthouses and Light Saving stations on our travels and this is the loveliest display of the Fresnel lens once common in all lighthouses.   Its glow looks beautiful against the wooden wall.

Up stairs was the crew dormitory and its wonderful view of the water.


Upstairs are two unusual displays, one audio and one visual.

The audio is a pair of headsets with televised captions of an interview with a former Commandant of the Coast Guard who had been station master at this station.  The other was a replica of a typical turn of the century Great Lakes Steamer in the late 1920’s.  That was really neat to have the feel of being at the helm.   Is this cool or what??


Time for lunch.
What a view out your front door.  We leave the light station and decide to have our lunch at the picnic tables before taking the hike to Sleeping Bear Point. 



A short after lunch nap seems in order on such a lovely chilly day especially since the ground is so warm.  I could just melt right in and really hate to get back up.

When we go to get our bikes we find we have been joined by many more cyclists including some very young ones.

What happened to consideration on the road?
We bike over to the trail head down a dirt road and are passed both coming and going by some very inconsiderate drivers going way too fast and throwing up dust.  Being a bicyclist myself, I always try to be very considerate of bikers when I’m sharing any roads with them.
We lock up the bikes and start down the path which soon turns to sand.  This is another short sand hike to the Lake Michigan shore.  We haven’t tired of them yet.  Well I haven’t at least.  David does ask when we climb to the top and he looks down at the shore “You are going down there?”.



I walk the shoreline.  David enjoys the rocks.



After a while we head back up and over to the bikes with a last look at this spot on the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline.


We bike back through Glen Haven and stop at the blacksmith’s shop. 
This is an original mid 1800’s building and is staffed by a very skilled volunteer.



On down the road we peddle through the D.H. Day campground of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakehore and past the first state park building created in 1919 by the state park commission and named in honor of its chairman, D.H. Day




We reach Glen Arbor with two goals in mind. 

I’m looking for  The Cottage Book Shop, another wonderful little bookstore in a great log cabin building.


Couldn’t you just stay forever in a darling place like this with all its nooks and crannies?

The books I most enjoy in these little shops are those about the local area and by local writers.  In my travels before full timing, I found some real treasures of what is called “regional literature”.  It makes traveling in an area even more interesting to read these works.   This one caught my eye this time but it won’t show up on the shelves of the library of which I am a member unfortunately.

David of course is looking for a bakery but he stumbles on the find of the day. 
Anyone who has been to Michigan is probably well aware of the Cherry Republic.  We’ve been here several times before but had never heard of it until today.
What a find!

The “Republic” is made up of three different buildings with the “Great Hall of the Republic” in the middle, the “Republic Family Tasting Room” on the left and the Republic Cherry Café.   It is the Café that we see first.  It has sandwiches with cherries on cherry bread, cherry pie and various types of cherry ice cream.  You can dine in, or eat out on the patio.


The Great Hall will let you taste and purchase numerous things cherry including 3 strengths of salsa, cherry catsup, cherry syrup, cherry jam, jelly and cherry peanut butter.  They have cherry BBQ sauce in two strengths, cherry candy of every sort imaginable and cherry “pop”.   I know I’m back in the Midwest of my childhood when I hear the word “pop” used to describe what easterners call soda.

We taste our way through the salsa, the BBQ sauce, the jams and the candy.  We won’t need any dinner.

We make our selections here and then move on to the “tasting room”.  I thought we were in a tasting room but the next one is for liquids of the wine and “pop” kind.


It’s the FAMILY tasting room.
The “Family Tasting Room” so called because the grown ups can taste multiple kinds of cherry wines and the kids can taste 6 kinds of cherry pop.



Those who know me know that I have the world’s biggest sweet tooth.   I don’t care for alcohol of any kind.  Not sweet enough so I’m interested in tasting the pop.  David does enjoy wine but prefers beer and they don’t have cherry beer.  So he tastes the pop too.


We end up buying way too many things here at the Cherry Republic. 
We buy gifts for friends and family and for ourselves including a 6 pack of assorted amazingly sweet pops.
We have also spent a long time here at the Republic and determine that we really can’t leave without at least tasting their cherry pie.  David thinks we must have cherry ice cream with our pie.  That leads us to the cherry chicken salad sandwich on cherry bread since we really shouldn’t eat desert without dinner and it’s at least an hour or so before we’ll be home.
Works for me.


Eat inside or outside on the front patio or the back with the big cherry


Life’s short, eat desert first?

They dish up our pie and ice cream first while they make up our sandwich.  So we do end up eating our desert first.  What would my mother think?   And how are we going to get all those Cherry Republic boxes  and bag back?  We are on bicycles.



As you can see, David is quite upset about having to eat his pie first.


I wish I could have posted more of their really clever cherry signs but as always I have WAY too many pictures already.


The sandwich arrives; it’s huge. 
Amazingly we still have some pie and ice cream left.  Good thing we’re splitting this.  Look at that cherry bread.


With a little reallocation and the use of both of my “farmer’s market” baskets, we manage to get all our republic goods on board.


Back on the trail we retrace our steps through the conifer forest, the beech maple forest and  to the dunes.IMG_4979IMG_4981 


This has been another great day in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Don’t miss the bike trail or The Cherry Republic on your trip here !!


  1. Great Bike Ride!!! But have to agree, The Cherry Republic is the find of the day:o)) Cherries are my favorite fruit and we actually had Pancakes with Sweet Cherries for dinner last night!! I saw the box of Cherry Salsa...OHHHHH that really sounds wonderful!!!

  2. That is a wonderful bike trail with so much to see (and eat). I can't believe you could fit half a sandwich after that pie and ice cream.

    I remember calling it pop. I never realized it was a Midwest term though but now that you mention it, we were in the Midwest then.

    I can't believe those mosquitoes on your picture of the ducky view! How did you get them all on the paper towel?

  3. I would rather have cool weather any day for a bike ride. Looks like a wonderful day for sure. I would have been with David looking at the rocks!! What a find in the Cherry Republic! You certainly hit the jackpot:) Love those baskets on the bike.

  4. Not a big fan of cherries,but David didn't say how it rated against his own pies.looked like a great day,wonderful weather and blue skies. Get history lesson..would have loved to lie on the grass and checked out the clouds.

  5. It was another great day indeed. The Cherry Republic does make a good pie, really good, but probably no better than mine, just a lot easier. People way up north like here and Acadia in Maine seem to know how to bake great fruit pies. Lots of time to practice during the long winters I guess. I am looking forward to sampling a few more as we move across the north.

  6. That was quite a bike ride. You know Sherry, we still have to put baskets on our bikes. There were instances when we wanted to buy something when we are on bikes but just forego it since we can't have packages and bike several miles.
    I will definitely mark this area. I still have to look in the map the route you are taking so we can just copy it when we get there.

  7. Boy did I miss out. I would have loved cherry republic! The signs and tastes and choices...wow! Great bike ride overall and history of the places you visited alway the way. Fun day!


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