Looking to get up close and personal with nature at Sleeping Bear? With nearly 100 miles of designated trails in the National Lakeshore, you have many options. Let’s start with the 2.8-mile Sleeping Bear Point Trail. It showcases rolling dunes with wildflowers, dune grasses and shrubs, and great views of Lake Michigan and South Manitou Island. Plus there’s a spur to the beach at Lake Michigan.
If you want something slightly more strenuous, check out Alligator Hill. This eight-mile trail features three loops with long, gradual hills traversing a maple and beech forest. Much of the forest was devastated by a huge wind storm in 2015, showcasing how the area is recovering from this devastating event.
If you want to traverse trails on two wheels, grab your bike and head to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, which runs 22 miles between Empire through Glen Arbor and ends at Bohemia Road. Forgot yours? You can rent a bike at the Cyclery in Glen Arbor or Empire Outdoors.
Oh, and the views! With nature’s bounty all around, the hiking and biking trails and many lookouts offer endless panoramas of water, land, and sky.
Speaking of the sky, cast your eyes upward, and you’ll espy the many varieties of birds who call the region home, or who stop for a rest on their way north. The sky is quite literally the limit for those looking for our feathered friends.
So yes, there’s even a trail for birding. Sleeping Bear Birding Trail spans thousands of public acres along the Lake Michigan coastline. It’s home to chickadees and mergansers, pileated woodpeckers and eagles, cedar waxwings, and more. Including the Piping Plover, an endangered shorebird that needs vast stretches of undisturbed beach, which is why some trails are off-limits to dogs.
For golfers, Manitou Passage Golf Club is challenging and enjoyable for all skill levels. Renovated a dozen years ago by the Arnold Palmer Design Company, it offers fescue-filled meadows, hardwood forests, expansive ridges, and sparkling ponds. Fore, golfers!
This article was printed in the Spring, 2022 version of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Guide. Contact the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau for this guide or a copy of the current guide.