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Hiking the Bay to Bay Trail

The Bay to Bay Hiking and Kayaking Trail Breaking trail for the Bay to Bay Hiking and Kayaking Trail. Here Bob and the team hike through the dunes in Platte Bay with Empire Bluffs and Sleeping Bear Point in the distance.

It's an epic hike. From south to north across the entire Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, hiking the Bay to Bay Trail will be an amazing experience.

When we first heard about the proposed Bay to Bay Hiking and Kayak Trail we were excited. The trail's planned route ran from the south of the park all the way to the north and passed through much of its most stunning scenery. From the Platte River and Empire Bluffs in the south, past Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and the Dune Climb, around Alligator Hill, and up to Pyramid Point and Good Harbor Bay in the north. What an addition to the park this would make!

At Cherry Republic, we're pretty big fans of an arduous hike, so naturally we couldn't wait to get out and hike it. But how do you hike a trail that isn't built? Easy! Break trail and use the effort as a fundraiser for the Bay to Bay Trail's construction.

Taking three days to hike over 40 miles is no simple task, but several of us at Cherry Republic leapt at the chance. I was joined by our corporate chef Tony Finnestad and by Manitou hike veteran Tom Bisbee. We also put out an invitation to our customers and were delighted when Alex McGregor and her friend Joe Welklin, both from Cornell University, signed up.

The team that hiked the Bay to Bay Trail The team that hiked the Bay to Bay Trail: from left, Alex McGregor, Joe Welklin, Bob Sutherland, Tony Finnestad, and Tom Bisbee.

Although we had many other staff members and customers express a desire to join us, when it came time to set off it was just the five of us.

There were lots of questions on the five of our minds as we assembled for the Bay to Bay Trail-Breaking Hikeathon. Foremost on my mind was how would the five of us decide what our route we should take. There is no Bay to Bay Hiking Trail yet; the park service hopes to have it finished for the summer of 2016.

The five of us had to decide between hiking beaches and dunes, short segments of trail and old, barely traceable logging roads, or miles of unmarked woods. And there are lots of obstacles such as lakes and rivers and swamps to go around.

We were all excited about getting to know the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore better. By walking it, we would get a perspective of how large the park is, and we would really feel the diversity of its terrain. It also happened to be fall and virtually peak color. With a near-perfect weather forecast, we were thrilled to be fully outdoors enjoying every moment.

Sunset on the Bay to Bay Trail Soaking in a glorious Sleeping Bear Dune sunset on the Bay to Bay Trail.

It was 7 years ago, when Cherry Republic’s COO and I went to the park service to meet about this north-south hiking and kayaking trail. We knew it was in the park’s plans to build it at some point, and we offered Cherry Republic’s help. Now, seven years later, we are finally raising some money. After a successful hike we will hopefully meet with the park staff and offer some route suggestions.

With your contributions and Cherry Republic’s match, we’ve raised $1,600 dollars so far. Thank you to all who have supported us.