A popular hiking trail near Glen Arbor is set to reopen this weekend.
The Alligator Hill trail was wiped out by a powerful windstorm that hit northern Michigan last August. Crews with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore have removed hundreds of trees and restored the trail in its original location.
The park's deputy superintendent, Tom Ulrich, says there are no plans to remove the rest of the fallen trees on Alligator Hill.
“We try to allow natural processes to continue as much as possible, and certainly there’s not much more natural disturbance in the forest than a blowdown,” says Ulrich. “It’s one of the most common sources of forest disturbance here in our mixed northern hardwoods.”
Ulrich says the trail will give hikers a chance to see the devastation up close – and to watch the forest re-grow over time.
“This really gives people an opportunity to be firsthand witness to an outstanding, dramatic natural phenomenon,” he says. “And we’re envisioning that will continue to be a very popular area.”
Ulrich says there is a plan to “thin out” fallen trees in a few areas, to protect structures from fire danger. But those plans will require funding that has not yet been raised.