Hike Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

3.5 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Robin Pfeifer

Sleeping Bear dunes is a challenging hike over 450' tall sand dunes to sweeping views of Lake Michigan. This spot is spectacular for sunsets. 

There are two approaches to conquering the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. You can run to the top (the preferred method for those under the age of 10). Or, you can slowly trek up the side of this seemingly vertical wall of sand, breathing and sweating heavily, cursing each loose patch that knocks you back three feet for every one advanced.

Once you reach the top, stop for a moment to catch your breath and take in the beauty of the surrounding area. Then continue along Dunes Trail that extends all the way to the shore of Lake Michigan.

Allow 2-4 hours to complete the hike. It's short - 3.5 miles round-trip - but strenuous. You will be hiking up and down dunes over loose sand the entire time. Closed-toe shoes help protect your feet from blisters and the prickly plants lining the trail. Bring a lot of water, especially if you visit in the summer.

The effort is worth the reward once you reach the shoreline of Lake Michigan. You'll start seeing a sliver of blue as your descend the last major dune climb. The trail ends at a wooden staircase leading you down to the beach. The view from the top will take your breath away.

Walk a short distance down the rocky shoreline to claim your own private section of beach. Cool off by taking a dip into the lake's crystal clear water. Eat the picnic lunch you packed - you will have worked up quite the appetite by now.

Spend some time lounging in the sun, but allow plenty of time to get back before sunset. To find the best viewing spot, simply look for the crowd lining the top of the tallest dune. The local tradition is to applaud the sun as it dips into the water, properly thanking it for the day.

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Tags

Camping
Photography
Swimming
Hiking
Beach
Easy Parking
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great fun!

Our kids had a fantastic time dune jumping!

Feel Like A Kid Again

This is a great way to feel like a kid again! Camping in the state park is a very enjoyable way to see some incredible sunsets

Fun slide down, not so much back up.

Stay Nearby

Glen Arbor, Michigan

D.H. Day Group

Overview D.H. Day Group Campground is a tent-only facility located in the heart of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, about one mile north of the Dune Climb, where visitors can walk over miles...

Empire, Michigan

D.H. Day Campground

Overview D.H. Day Campground is located in the northern district of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, on the lower peninsula of Michigan.  CLICK HERE TO ACCESS A MAP OF D.H. DAY CAMPGROUND: h...

Leland, Michigan

South Manitou Group

Overview South Manitou Group Campground is a tent-only backcountry facility on South Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan. Campers must take a 1.5-hour ferry or...

Honor, Michigan

Platte River Campground

Overview Platte River Campground is located in the southern district of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, on the lower peninsula of Michigan. This year-round facility is one of the most popu...

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