Hiking Trails at Sleeping Bear Dunes
Download a copy of the Trail Trekkers Challenge if you think you can hike all 13 mainland trails in one year. This is a fun challenge that can be accomplished during a weekly stay if you commit yourself to hiking a couple of the trails each day.
13 Most Popular Trails at Sleeping Bear Dunes
Empire Bluffs Trails
This is probably the most popular hike in the National Lakeshore. The view of the Lake Michigan shoreline and South Bar Lake from the Empire Bluff Overlook is second to none on this 1.5 mile round trip hike. On a clear day, you will also see South Manitou Island. This is a great spot for a family photo. Download a map in pdf format here.
Pyramid Point Trail
This trail takes you 0.6 miles up a hill to a Lookout Point where you can see the Manitou Islands. Continue east along a narrow elevated trail to complete the 2.7 mile hike through three extremely different environments: maple-beech forest, high bluffs with great views, and a giant meadow. Download a map in pdf format here.
Sleeping Bear Point Trail
The Sleeping Bear Point Trail is a 2.8 mile loop through the sand dunes with great views of Lake Michigan and South Manitou Island. There is a 0.5 mile spur hike from the trailhead to the Lake Michigan beach. It is less strenuous than the hike from the Dune Climb to Lake Michigan. Click here for more information.
This 1.4 mile loop through rolling dunes and accessed via the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive takes you above the Dune Climb and provides beautiful views of Glen Lake and the Dune Climb. This trail is a highly recommended stop. Download a map in pdf format here.
Alligator Hill Trail
This trail provides great views of Lake Michigan from the top of the hill and of Glen Lake through the trees. There are several hilly loops that make up a total of 9 miles of trails. You can see the massive tree damage done by the August 2015 storm that brought 100 mile an hour straight line winds through the area. Download a map in pdf format here.
Bay View Trail
This trail consists of 8 miles of hilly trails divided into several shorter loops. Lookout Point gives a panoramic view of Lake Michigan and the surrounding countryside. The trail along the edge of the woods on top of the bluff overlooks fields of wildflowers and former farmland with Lake Michigan in the background. Download a map in pdf format here.
This trail is a 3.5 mile round trip hike that takes 2 – 4 hours depending on the weather and your physical condition. This strenuous hike starts at the Dune Climb and ends at Lake Michigan. Be sure to wear sun screen, take enough water, and wear (or at least take along) hiking shoes or sandals. You’ll sleep well after this hike! Download a map in pdf format here.
Old Indian Trail
This trail has two loops of about 2.5 miles in length. It is also a popular cross country ski and snowshoe trail. Most of the trail runs through maple-beech forest. There is a short hike through the beach dunes to Lake Michigan near the junction of the two loops. Download a pdf map here.
Good Harbor Bay Trail
The Good Harbor Bay Trail is a 2.8 mile trail that is almost entirely flat with just a few small grades. Near the beginning of the trail, there is a short section of low coastal dunes, where there is access to the beach. Then the trail turns away from Lake Michigan and becomes wooded for the remainder of its length. A portion of the trail passes through a swamp, and a small bridge assists in crossing a couple of wet spots. Download a map in pdf format here.
Platte Plains Trail
The Platte Plains trail system has about 15 miles of trails through the maple-beech and pine forest that gives the hiker access to Otter Creek, Otter Lake, and Bass Lake. There are also several access points to Lake Michigan. Part of the trail follows a 2-track road from Esch Road and Otter Creek. Click Here for a more information and a map of the Platte Plains Trail.
Windy Moraine Trail
This 1.5 mile loop takes you through a field to the moraine left from when the last glaciers melted about 10,000 years ago. You will climb to the top of the hill on a modest incline through a beech-maple forest and a pine plantation. From the top of the moraine, you will get a few good views of Glen Lake. Views are best when the leaves are off the trees, but even in the summer you will get some nice views of the lake. Download a map in pdf format here.
Shauger Hill Trail
This 2.4 mile loop goes through primarily maple-beech forest and some pine forest in pretty hilly terrain. The trail is part of the Scenic Drive Ski Trail. Download a map in pdf format here.
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is designed for walkers, runners, skiers and people on bicycles. It’s paved and spans 16 miles (27 miles are planned) and has sections with steep grades. Download a map in pdf format here.