EMPIRE, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A federal agency has awarded a $1.6 million grant to continue building a hard-surfaced trail at one of the most popular vacation destinations “Up North.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation approved funding this week for a 3.1-mile stretch of the trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, starting at Port Oneida Road and ending at Leelanau County Road 669.

When completed, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail will extend for 27 miles through the national lakeshore. The trail is designed for non-motorized uses such as hiking, biking and cross-country skiing.

It will link the lakeshore’s main visitor attractions with the neighboring communities of Glen Arbor and Empire.

The initial four-mile section opened in June between Glen Arbor and the dune climb area.

The National Lakeshore was named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” by “Good Morning America” last year.

One of the nations best kept secrets, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore boasts 64 miles of beaches along Lake Michigan, two islands, 26 inland lakes and more than 50,000 acres of land. The most prominent features, and those for which the park is named, are the perched dunes above Lake Michigan.

Whether you’re on the sandy bluffs overlooking one of Michigan’s Great Lakes, in a canoe on an inland lake, hiking the myriad of trails through the forest or visiting the Manitou Islands in Lake Michigan, you’ll find opportunities for bird watching, wildlife viewing and enjoying nature while at this park.

For more information about Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, visit nps.gov. To download a virtual brochure, click here.

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