GLEN ARBOR — The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is not the only thing that is growing — so are efforts to raise money to maintain and expand the trail.
What organizers hope will become an annual Sleepy Bear Twilight Bike Ride is scheduled for the evening of Aug. 11, to raise money for maintenance, operating and winter grooming of the new and popular trail.
The estimated yearly cost of maintenance is about $1,000 per mile, trail advocates said.
The first paved segment of the trail stretches four miles from the Dune Climb to Glen Haven. It opened in June 2012 and appears to be getting a lot of non-motorized use.
A survey done by the nonprofit Friends of the Heritage Trail during the third week of August 2012 indicated an average of 378 trail users each week day and 507 on weekend days – or a total 2,900 for the week, said Tom Ulrich, deputy federal park superintendent.
Judy Finn first rode the trail while on vacation last year and returned two weeks ago.
“We had such a lovely time, we wanted to come back,” Judy said. “It was so fun because last year the kids were just learning to ride and this time they were riding ahead.”
She said the family spent a week on vacation in Alden and made a side trip to Glen Arbor for another ride before heading home to Ohio.
“It was such a beautiful day we came just to do the trail,” she said.
Construction of the next paved segment — from the Dune Climb south to Empire — is scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day, Ulrich said.
A permanent donor plaza also will be built at the base of the Dune Climb to recognize donors who give $1,000 or more.
The Sleepy Bear Twilight Bike Ride is sponsored by the Friends group and Cherry Republic. It starts at 8 p.m. at Cherry Republic, 6026 S. Lake Street, near the corner of Lake and State streets. Cherry Republic is a Glen Arbor-based business that sells cherry products and other merchandise through its four retail outposts, website and catalog.