Sleeping Bear Dunes, with its epic views and sprawling sandscapes, is a hiker’s paradise with approximately 100 miles of trails to explore. Let’s take a look at some of the best hikes in the area. Please note that many trails in the Sleeping Bear Dunes park system do not allow pets from December 1st until March 31st. Check the park website for updated information.

Easy Trails

Bass Lake Loop is part of Platte Plains, the park’s most expansive trail system. This 3.5-mile section meanders through gently rolling hardwood forests, wetlands, and passes by two lakes. There are benches at the lake access, and fishing is allowed. Look for the trailhead at the Trails End sign where parking is available.

Empire Bluff Trail is a popular, 1.5-mile trail that is perfect for families. The hour-long walk through beech and maple forests leads to the bluff where breathtaking Lake Michigan views and magnificent sunsets await you.

The mostly-paved Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail connects with several other trails and is perfect for strollers, wheelchairs, and bikes. The trail is about 20 miles long with several sections and eight trailheads where parking is available.

Moderate Trails

Lasso Loop, also part of Platte Plains, offers diverse terrain throughout its 6.3-mile length. Some steep ridges and tight switchbacks can be challenging, but it provides spectacular views of Lake Michigan. An optional 1.6-mile spur at the #5 post leads to one of the best beach walks in this part of the peninsula.

The nine-mile Alligator Hill Trail is a lesser-known trek with several sections ranging from easy to strenuous. A short hike from the Stocking Road trailhead leads to the Islands Lookout where you can view the Manitou Islands. This is the only trail in the SBD that allows horseback riding.

Pyramid Point Trail leads to elevated bluffs and an epic vista featuring the distant islands. The entire trail is a hilly three miles, while the walk to the bluff and back is half the distance. Please protect the bluffs from erosion by not descending them.

Strenuous Trails

If you want to take the direct route, then head for the Dunes Hiking Trail. This is a rugged, 3.5-mile walk from the Dune Climb to Lake Michigan and takes 2-4 hours. Consider your physical condition before taking this one as it provides no shade and the sand makes for heavy walking.

If you are time-limited, Sleeping Bear Point Trail is probably the best hike as it provides a bit of everything including woods, dunes, and water. Not quite as challenging as the Dunes Trail, it is a better option if you have kids with you.