Farmlands and Port Oneida
M-22 continues north out of Glen Arbor through the Good Harbor and Port Oneida regions of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Bay View Hiking Trail sits just off of M-22 between Thoresen Road and Port Oneida Road. The trail winds for eight miles through farmland, forest, and dunes, providing panoramic views of Lake Michigan and surrounding areas. It is here that the environment of the national laksehore shifts from forests and dunes to agriculture. The Bay View Trail runs past a number of turn-of-the-century barns and farms.
M-22 next passes through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, a collection of dozens of turn-of-the-century farms sitting on 3,000 acres of land along the laksehore. Most are owned and operated by the National Park Service and have been preserved and restored to reflect their heritage. The NPS-owned farms are accessible to the public. The Port Oneida Fair is a popular event every August in which the area’s agricultural heritage, skills, and crafts are celebrated.
Sitting just beyond the Port Oneida Rural Historic District is Pyramid Point, the last of the major laksehore dunes in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Pyramid Point rises 260 feet above Lake Michigan and runs much longer along the laksehore than Old Baldy, Empire Bluff, or Sleeping Bear Bluff to the south. It also marks the entrance to Good Harbor Bay. Pyramid Point was a popular destination for hang gliders when the sport peaked in popularity in the 1970s and early 1980s. Pyramid Point is accessible from Pyramid Point Trail. The main trailhead sits about a half mile off of M-22 on Basch Road just after turning from Port Oneida Road. The trail might be the best kept secret in the dunes. Even when there are hundreds of tourists running up and down Dune Climb, there are very few on Pyramid Point Trail. Whether due to its less visible trailhead or its remote location, the trail’s lack of traffic makes it a great destination for those looking for isolation. It starts in grassy expanses of farmland, passes through birch and maple forests, and leads to a beautiful lookout atop Pyramid Point.
M-22 next passes a series of small inland lakes, including Lime Lake and Little Traverse Lake. Although not visible from M-22, Good Harbor Bay sits just beyond the inland lakes and surrounding forests. Good Harbor provides shelter from Lake Michigan and, as a result, was an ideal place for development of a logging town and port in the 1800s. The earliest logging activity took place in 1863. The inland lakes facilitated movement of logs toward Good Harbor, as they were guided across the lakes with cables stretching from shore to shore. The Village of Good Harbor was started in the 1870s, and soon had a long pier, sawmill, hotel, saloon, and two stores. In 1907 a fire burned the sawmill and more than 1 million feet of lumber in the yard. As the area’s forests were rapidly depleting, it was not worth rebuilding the mill. Most villagers moved away. The post office closed in 1907. The remaining buildings were sold in 1924 and demolished for scrap lumber. Like Pierport and Burnham to the south, Good Harbor became a ghost town.
Today, Good Harbor features miles of wide sandy beaches, easily accessible about a half mile off of M-22 via South Bohemian Road or Good Harbor Trail. For hikers, Good Harbor Bay Trail winds through birch, maple, pine, and oak forest, low lying dunes, and wetlands along Good Harbor Bay. It is the flattest hike available along the national lakeshore. The only remnants of the once bustling logging port are approximately a dozen weathered and decaying dock pilings in Lake Michigan straight off of Good Harbor Road.
Across M-22 just outside the boundaries of the national lakeshore lies Sugar Loaf Mountain Resort. The resort was started in 1966 and became a popular golfing and skiing destination. During expansion in the 1970s, however, the resort incurred debt at the exorbitant interest rates prevalent at the time, leading to bankruptcy in 1981. The resort was purchased by investors from Detroit. It rebounded in the 1980s, but slowed again in the 1990s. The owners attempted to revive their fortunes by splitting golf and ski operations and building a second golf course. The course, designed by Arnold Palmer and called “King’s Challenge” opened in 1998. After the split, the ski resort quickly floundered, leading Empire Bank to repossess it in 1997. The bank sold it to another investor who continued operations, but was unable to secure a liquor license. The ski resort went out of business in 2000 and has remained closed ever since. Splitting golf and ski operations may have hastened the demise of the ski resort. However, it allowed the golf courses to remain open. In 2009, the King’s Challenge course was purchased by a group of investors led by the owners of The Homestead. They hired Palmer to redesign the course. It reopened in 2010 as Manitou Passage Golf Club and has earned national recognition, including Golfweek Magazine’s Best New Course of 2010 award. The original course at Sugar Loaf continues to operate as well.