Winter Hike Empire Bluff Trail

Empire Bluff Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Holly Mandarich

A short hike to the best overlook views in Leelanau county!

Just outside the village of Empire is where this venture starts. This hike may be the most famous hike in the area. The Empire Bluff Trail provides incredible views of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, South Bar Lake and Lake Michigan!

The hike is slightly hilly, and stays primarily in the trees. At .5 miles you will peer out from the trees on your right and grab your first scenic view in the area. The trail ends at .75 miles at the iconic viewpoint! Totaling the hike at 1.5 miles roundtrip. This is a hike you won't want to miss, particularly at sunset, as the viewpoint does face west!

For winter conditions - if new snow has fallen it is recommended to bring snowshoes. Otherwise snow-boots should work just as well! The park service recommends that you do not descend down from the bluff to the lakeshore, as it can be steep and hard to climb up - being that there is no designated trail.

For a map of the trail, visit the parks website! No fees are required to hike this trail.


1.5 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

170 ft Gain




Fitness, Chillin, Photography, Running, Snowshoeing, Hiking

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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