Explore the most popular lake trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
5 days ago

Beautiful wooded trail. There are a lot of little hills, but nothing major. The spur to the lake is dunes, and definitely the most challenging part of the trail.

hiking
24 days ago

Great hike! Lake Michigan just beyond post 27. About 4 miles round trip.

Loved this trail - perfect for kids too, distance is perfect.

hiking
1 month ago

Not sure how this trail isn't ranked higher. Perfect hiking trip with a scenic payoff.

Really pretty views. We were there in late March and didn’t know what to expect. Ended up catching a sunny say and ended up pleasantly surprised by a fantastic view of a wintey/spring-mixed Lake Michigan!

Great hike and great views. Be sure to take plenty of water.

hiking
2 months ago

One of the best views you'll see of Lake Michigan. The Dune puts you 260 feet almost straight above the lapping waters of Lake Michigan. The lookout point is about 0.6 miles from the trailhead. The .6 mile hike will be tough to some since it's a pretty good incline. However, the trail does offer wooden steps which makes it easier and there's no need to rush. relax and enjoy the quit and peaceful nature and when you get to the top, you'll be thankful that you made the hike. Check out the video I shot, video was shot on my GoPro Hero 4 sessions. https://youtu.be/gtxLWxdoV3k

alot of fun in winter great hike kids love the loop

Easy trail beautiful scenic lookout

hiking
4 months ago

Spectacular views, trails well maintained.

hiking
4 months ago

Great, tough hike! We kicked off our shoes and walked in socks only. It was helpful since the sand bogs down worse in shoes! We actually took our kiddos (6 & 3) and they were tough cookies!! Once we reached the lake there were about 12 people there. Great secluded spot and worth the effort to enjoy the peace at the lake

hiking
4 months ago

Very difficult - bring water. But the views and the dunes are incredible! Even better are: Sleeping Bear Point Trail or Empire Bluff Trail or Treat Farm Trail.

hiking
4 months ago

One of my favorite short hikes in Michigan. Keep going south on the ridge all the way to Treat Farm if you want a real adventure!

hiking
4 months ago

Hard dunes, but worth the effort!

hiking
4 months ago

This was quick and pretty cool.

hiking
4 months ago

Try to go at sunset for a breathtaking view.

hiking
6 months ago

Easy hike on well maintained trail with fantastic views of Lake Michigan.

Amazing sights!

Fun hike with the kids. More than manageable outside of them wanting to continually go up and down the narrow steep dune hike to a beautiful overlook!

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike. black outer trail, and walk to Lake Mi great workout. green trail cuts black trail through the middle, very mild terrain.

Great views and easy hike!

hiking
7 months ago

Great, short hike in in the Sleeping Bear area. Good western view for sunsets.

backpacking
8 months ago

Spectacular piece of wilderness in northern Michigan! My girlfriend and I had a couple of extra days on vacation and decided to go on a backpacking trip. We booked a seat on the ferry from Leland to the island and paid our backcountry camping fees the day we left. The island is huge and the trails are well-maintained for the most part. If you want to break off of the main trails, there are numerous"unmaintained" trails that you can follow, but definitely bring a map and compass as these are easy to get lost on. It's relatively easy terrain without a ton of elevation gain, and the soft/sandy soil is easy on the knees and ankles even after long distances. The wildlife is beautiful and you're almost certain to see deer and a huge variety of birds.

We went from Sunday to Tuesday in late August, so we were nearly alone on the island and only encountered a couple of other hikers.

Camping on the island is excellent, but you can only have campfires in the designated campground. If you camp in the backcountry like I did, you cannot have a campfire and will be restricted to using your stove for cooking and lanterns/lamps for light. That said, the backcountry campsites I used were excellent. If you camp near the shore of Lake Michigan you can hear waves crash on the beach as you bed down for the night. If you stay more inland, be prepared for nearly absolute silence in the woods, broken only by the calls of owls and other nocturnal creatures.

A word of warning: The island is infested with poison ivy. It is literally everywhere you go. If you plan on camping in the backcountry be sure to pack alcohol swabs or some other anti-poison ivy product to clean yourself off every few hours. It's a miracle my girlfriend and I didn't get rashes. Additionally, bring first aid tools and extra provisions. The ferry takes about an hour to get to the island, and the nearest hospital is in Traverse City, so be prepared for emergency. The beauty and remoteness of this wilderness area make it one of my favorites in all of the Midwest.

hiking
8 months ago

Really neat experience climbing up a sand dune and down again. Pretty steep hill but definitely doable with a nice view :) Take some water along.

hiking
9 months ago

AWESOME views. About 9 bug dunes to the beach, and then back

Beautiful, but not what I would call easy.

backpacking
9 months ago

Our family of 4 spent 3 nights backpacking on NMI, part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. To reach the island, you must take the ferry that leaves from Leland. The staff there will issue your backcountry permit. Once you are in the island, a ranger gives you a brief talk and then you are free to go wherever you would like. We spent the first night at Lake Manitou. Smallmouth bass fishing is excellent. The fishermen waded in and used a top-water technique. You can keep one per license per day. The second night we camped at Crescent City on the west shore. A little tricky to find the right path to the beach, but just keep trying if you hit a dead end. Beautiful sunset. Last night we camped on the east side of island near the South Cherry Orchard. The backpacking is relatively easy- trails are wide and gently sloping. The centerline trail across the middle of the island is fast- so you could camp on the west side and still easily make it back to the boat the next day. I would recommend buying the $5 map rather than using the free park map. The bugs were manageable with Deet. Beware there are monster patches of poison ivy especially along the beaches. There is only one water spigot near the dock- otherwise you will need to filter. Not everyone has done a good job of digging their cat holes- which is kind of disgusting in some popular places. But, we rarely saw other hikers. The solitude was amazing. The beaches are gorgeous. And I was sad to leave. I would recommend this to everyone but especially to families with beginner backpackers.

hiking
9 months ago

YIKES! This trail was definitely "Hard"! Wear tennis shoes and bring lots of water! Start early! Our group went a little off-trail because it was easier to walk on the plants/harder ground than digging into the sand. Took a few hours because we spent a lot of time at the Lake eating and resting for the hike back. Great to say you've done it though!

hiking
9 months ago

I would've rated this above Empire Bluff Trail, but it is more of a challenging hike! The hike to the lookout is where you gain a good chunk of your elevation. Gorgeous, gorgeous views & more secluded areas when its a highly trafficked day.

hiking
9 months ago

Super easy trail with gorgeous lookouts. Can be heavily trafficked depending on time of year/week.

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