Outbound Collective logo

Hike Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Glen Arbor, Michigan

4.4/5
based on 9 reviews

Details

Distance

3.5 miles

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

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.

Read More

Download the Outbound mobile app

Find adventures and camping on the go, share photos, use GPX tracks, and download maps for offline use.

Get the app

Features

Camping
Photography
Hiking
Beach
Easy Parking
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

I'm from this area, my whole family still lives there. This is a great spot to visit in all four seasons. If you are tourist shy, come back in the fall when the maple trees are turning - it's glorious!

If you have kids its a 5 minute roll down the dune, and a 2 hour walk back up.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Hike to Big Glen Lookout

Hike the Ghost Forest Trail and the Dunes of Glen Haven

Hike the Sleeping Bear Point Trail

Drive the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Paddle Glen Lake