Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Hiking
Gorp.com
Page 4 of 4   |  
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Jake Rajs/Photodisc/Getty)

Regulations
Pets on trails must be kept on a 1.8-meter (6-foot) maximum, handheld leash. Pets are not permitted at the Dune Climb.

Collecting of plants and other natural, historical, and archaeological items is not permitted. Exception: Certain edible fruits and mushrooms may be collected in limited quantities for personal use.

Bicycles are prohibited on hiking trails.

Safety
Travel with a companion and notify someone of your route and expected return time. Carry drinking water. Avoid poison ivy. Dress for the weather. Be prepared for mosquitoes. Be careful of your footing. Trails include uneven ground and exposed roots, etc.

Various hunting seasons span the entire year; wear bright clothing when hiking or skiing. Firearm deer hunting season is November 15-30. Bright-colored clothing is recommended.

Trails
Many trails lead through forests and meadows. Trail maps are available at the visitor center and are posted at trailheads. Some land within park boundaries is private property; respect owners' rights.

1. Old Indian Trail
The trail leads to a view of Lake Michigan and a wide expanse of low beach dunes.
Distance: There are two loops, each about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles).
Trailhead: On M-22, just north of Sutter Road.
Terrain: Flat to gently rolling.
Vegetation: Evergreens and hardwoods.

2. Platte Plains Trail
Distance: The trail consists of three loops totaling 23.6 km (14.7 mi.).
Trailheads: There are two trailheads.
Otter Creek Trailhead: Take M-22 to Esch Road (6.5 km [14 mi.] south of Empire), turn west, and proceed almost to Lake Michigan. Park on wide shoulder and walk south on unpaved road to trailhead. Gives access to the Otter Creek loop.
Trail's End Trailhead: Drive to the end of Trail's End Road, off M-22, 9.7 km (6 mi.) south of Empire. Gives access to Otter Creek Loop and Bass Lake Loop.
Terrain: Mostly flat; there are some short, steep hills on the Lasso Loop that lead to the White Pine Backcountry Campground.
Vegetation: Primarily pine-oak-aspen woods with some open fields, pine plantations, and, near Lake Michigan, some low beach dunes.

3. Empire Bluff Trail
Leads to a scenic viewpoint high above Lake Michigan. A self-guiding brochure describes the scenery.
Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 mi.) round-trip.
Trailhead: Wilco Road, off M-22, 2.7 km (1.7 mi.) south of Empire.
Terrain: Hilly.
Vegetation: Beech-maple forest, fields, and dunes.

4. Windy Moraine Trail
A self-guiding brochure with a biodiversity theme describes the scenery. From a high point along the trail, you can view Glen Lake, Lake Michigan, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 mi.) loop.
Trailhead: Welch Road, just east of M-109, 5.6 km (3.5 mi.) north of Empire.
Terrain: Hilly.
Vegetation: Beech-maple forest, old farm fields, and pine plantation.

5. Shauger Hill Trail
Distance: 3.9 km (2.4 mi.) loop.
Trailhead: Parking lot at entrance to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.
Terrain: Hilly.
Vegetation: Beech-maple forest with a few small clearings and pine plantations.

6. Cottonwood Trail
A self-guiding brochure describes the plant life and geology of the dunes. Part of this trail is through loose sand, and is strenuous.
Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 mi.) loop.
Trailhead: Stop #4 on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.
Terrain: Moderately rolling dunes.
Vegetation: Grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers of the dunes.

7. Dunes Trail
This trail is strenuous, with steep dunes and loose sand. Drinking water, sturdy shoes, suntan lotion, a hat, and sunglasses are recommended.
Distance: 5.6 km (3.5 mi.) round-trip to Lake Michigan; time 3-4 hours.
Trailhead: The Dune Climb off M-109, 8.1 km (5 mi.) north of Empire.
Terrain: Steep, rugged dunes.
Vegetation: Grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers of the dunes.

8. Duneside-Accessible Trail
This trail is designed for use by all park visitors, including those in wheelchairs and the visually impaired. Signs along the trail interpret the trees, bird life, and other aspects of nature. This information is available on a cassette tape, which can be borrowed together with a cassette player at the park visitor center in Empire. Mosquitoes are abundant along the wooded half of the trail during warm weather: Be prepared.
Distance: 2.9 km (1.8 mi.) round-trip.
Trailhead: North end of Dune Climb, off M-109, 8.1 km (5 mi.) north of Empire.
Terrain: Flat.
Vegetation: First half goes through a field, the second half through moist woods.

9. Dunes-Sleeping Bear Point Trail
A short spur near the beginning of the trail leads out to Lake Michigan. If you plan to walk the entire loop, go prepared with water, sturdy shoes, a hat, suntan lotion, and sunglasses. Much of this trail is through loose sand, and is strenuous.
Distance: 4.5 km (2.8 mi.) loop.
Trailhead: Take gravel road 1.2 km (0.7 mi.) west from Maritime Museum in Glen Haven.
Terrain: Moderately rolling dunes.
Vegetation: Grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers of the dunes.

10. Alligator Hill Trail
There is a view of Lake Michigan along the first loop and a view of Glen Lake at the end of the spur trail, but both are somewhat obscured by trees. Horses are permitted on this trail.
Distance: Three loops of 45 km (2.5-3 mi.) each, plus a spur trail of 1.3 km (0.8 mi.) located off the first loop.
Trailhead: From M-109, 1.6 km (1 mi.) north of the Dune Climb, turn onto Day Farm Road, then turn left at Stocking Road, or take Stocking Road south from M-109, just east of the D.H. Day campground.
Terrain: Hilly.
Vegetation: Beech-maple forest, brushy fields, and pine plantation.

11. Bay View Trail
Lookout Point on the loop north of Thoreson Road offers a fine view of Lake Michigan.
Distance: 11 km (7 mi.) divided into several shorter loops.
Trailhead: Northbound vehicles take second Thoreson Road junction off M-22, 5.6 km (3.5 mi.) north of Glen Arbor.
Terrain: Hilly.
Vegetation: Beech-maple forest, old farm fields, and pine plantation.

12. Pyramid Point Trail
Trail leads to a high, panoramic view of Lake Michigan half a mile from the trailhead.
Distance: 4.3 km (2.7 mi.) loop.
Trailhead: Take M-22 to Port Oneida Road 6 km (3.7 mi) north of Glen Arbor; follow Port Oneida Road until it ends at Basch Road. Follow Basch Road east to trailhead.
Terrain: Hilly.
Vegetation: Beech-maple forest and open fields.

13. Good Harbor Bay Trail
Distance: 4.5 km (2.8 mi.) loop.
Trailhead: Take M-22 to County Road 669 13 km (8 mi.) north of Glen Arbor; follow 669 toward Lake Michigan. Turn right on Lake Michigan Road and follow it to trailhead.
Terrain: Flat, wet in places.
Vegetation: Mostly wooded with a short section of low dunes near the start.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

advertisement

Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »