Trails & Scenic Outlooks

You’ll find a variety of landscapes, hiking trails and scenic views in the greater Glen Arbor area. This list will provide you with an endless amount of recreation and exploring. Use the links and trail maps as an additional resource. ~Happy Hiking!

Accessibility in the Park

Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has accessibility information about each official trail in the park on their web site. This information includes maps showing degree of difficulty and photos of accessibility barriers.

For visitors with limited mobility, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes is offering FREE use of the electric Track Chair on the Bay View Trail. Visit the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes website to make reservations.

NOTICE: Please check the current Park Conditions on nps.gov before visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There are ticks in the Lakeshore woods. Know where to expect ticks and be tick safe.


The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (aka SBHT)

Experience the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore via foot, bike, ski, or even wheelchair! The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a gem of our area that you don’t want to miss.

The first 4-mile section of trail connecting Glen Arbor to the Dune Climb opened June 2012 and takes your family to places like Glen Haven, DH Day, Group Campgrounds & Glen Arbor. In June 2014, the 5.5-mile segment from the Dune Climb to Empire opened, creating a 9.5-mile paved connection between Glen Arbor and Empire.

Since Spring of 2015, the section connecting Glen Arbor to Port Oneida, was completed. A beautiful winding and serene hike from Port Oneida to Bohemian Road was completed in 2016, adding a total of 7 additional miles to the Heritage Trail, including a section of boardwalk over wetlands and views of barns and historic homes included in the National parkland.  

The trail now spans 27 miles from Empire to Good Harbor Bay. It is also pet friendly. Please leash and clean up after your furry friends.

Portions of the SBHT is also groomed in the winter months for Cross-Country Skiing!

The SBHT is being paid for by grants & private donations. To donate, please click here: Become a Friend of the Sleeping Bear.


Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Whether you want to hike is optional, enjoy this “Must do” scenic drive while visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the Empire and Glen Arbor, MI area.

Please check the current Park Conditions on nps.gov before visiting the national lakeshore.

See spectacular, world-class overlooks from this 7.4 mile drive that loops through Maple and Beech dominate forests. This scenic loop provides insight to the history and variety of vegetation that thrive among the Park. Overlooks include vistas of the Glen Lakes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Lake Michigan shoreline. 

You may opt to stop and take a hike along the Cottonwood Trail or break for a picnic at one of the designated areas along the drive. 


NEW! Kettles Trail

Located on West Baatz Road near its intersection with South Fritz Road, west of Leelanau County Road 669. In the Bow Lakes area of the park, Congress added the Bow Lakes area to the National Lakeshore in 1982 specifically because of its geological features, especially the “kettle” topography. The Kettles Trail provides the best access to examples of the ‘ancient glacial phenomena’ cited here. 

3 miles long | Moderate Hiking | The first 1,000 feet leads to an overlook and is fully accessible via a compacted stone surface. | The remainder of the trail is accesses steep hills, ponds, bogs and showcases the kettle topography. | Advanced cross-country skiing in winter.

For more trail photos & details, click here

Get directions from Google Maps

Kettles trailhead opened in Oct. 2019 in cooperation with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park Service & the Friends of Sleeping Bear.


Old Indian

2.5 mile, 2 loops | One Easy Loop, One Moderate Loop | Hike through forest with view and access to Lake MI

Photos by Charlotte Davis ®


Sleeping Bear Point

2.8 mi loop | Moderate to Strenuous | Features Dunes + Vista of Lake Michigan and South Manitou Island. There is a 0.5 mile spur hike from the trailhead to the Lake Michigan beach. It is less strenuous than the hike from the Dune Climb to Lake Michigan. Both trails are marked with blue-tipped posts.


Alligator Hill

Loop 1: 3 mile | Loop 2 : 4.6 mile | Loop 3: 4.7 mile | Moderate | Woods, hilly, with vista of Lake MI and vista of Glen Lake. Total of 9 miles if trails divided into loops.

Photo by Charlotte Davis ®

Pyramid Point

Overlook & back: 1.2 mile | Full Loop: 2.7 miles | Moderate | Woods, stunning vista of Lake Michigan & the Manitou Islands from high elevation. More about Pyramid Point trail on NPS.gov


Windy Moraine Trail

1.5 mile loop | Moderate to Advanced | Fields, pines and beech-Maple forest. There’s lots of biodiversity to explore and learn about here. The Windy Moraine trail takes you through a field to the moraine left from when the last glaciers melted about 10,000 years ago! You will climb to the top of the hill on a modest incline through a beech-maple forest and a pine plantation. From the top of the moraine, you will get a few good views of Glen Lake. The views are best seen in Spring, Fall and Winter when there’s less foliage.

fall colors and view of Glen Lake from Windy Moraine trail
photo by Kerry Kelly

Good Harbor Bay

2.8 Mile Loop | Easy | Through Woods and Wetlands. Trail good for year-round use. Hike throughout 3 seasons and snowshoe or cross-country ski in the winter months. Good for hiking on foot year round and cross country skiing in the winter. Note: On the shoreline side there are jaunts off of the trail that lead to right to Lake Michigan and on the other side of the trail property some paths may lead to Little Traverse Lake Rd. If is easy to stay on the main loop/trail if you follow the markers.

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Davis ®

Bay View

2 Loops: Farm – 2.4 miles | Ridge – 4 miles | Easy to Moderate | Woods and Meadows. Total of 8 miles of trails divided into loops | Hike 3 seasons and snowshoe or cross-country ski in the winter.

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Davis ®

Lookout Point gives a panoramic view of Lake Michigan and the surrounding countryside. The trail along the edge of the woods on top of the bluff overlooks fields of wildflowers and former farmland with Lake Michigan in the background.


Cottonwood

1.5 Mile Loop | Moderate | Rolling dunes, through Grasses, shrubs and wildflowers with a Vista of Glen Lake and Lake MI

A self-guided brochure is available at the trail-head. It describes the plant life and geology of the dunes. Much of the trail is through loose sand and is strenuous.


Scenic Drive/Shauger Hill Trail

Shauger hill is a 2.4 Mile Loop | Moderate to Advanced | Hilly, Beech-Maple Forest | Loops include unplowed Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, totaling 8 miles of trail.

Offers views of Lake Michigan and the dunes, with steep edges and bluffs. Shauger Hill Trail section is a designated cross-country ski trail that pets are not allowed on between Dec 1 – March 31st. The unplowed roadway is pet friendly, if they are taken on 6′ leash. More about the Scenic Drive Ski Trail/Shauger Hill on NPS.gov


Empire Bluff

A infamous destination for spectacular photography, this trail is a 1.5 mile round trip – out and back | Moderate, Hilly | Through Beech-Maple Forest, fields with dune plants take you to a world class vista of Lake MI. Your mind will be blown and your heart will be filled. 

Photo courtesy of lifeonthe45th.com

Palmer Woods Forest Reserve

A popular and newer development by the Leelanau Conservancy, Palmer Woods open in all seasons for: Hiking / Snowshoeing, Hunting, Mountain Biking, XC-Skiing.

The reserve includes over 1,000 Acres of forest offering 14 miles total of trails. The property features moderate hills, is great for Kids, Pets are permitted on leash.

Photo by Drew Palmer

Located at: 5677 S Wheeler Rd, Maple City, MI 49664


Have a favorite scenic outlook, serene spot, or a hike that’s not listed here? Got some nice photos from the trails or overlooks? We’d love to see and post them!

Submit it to us and we’ll consider adding it to the list!