Sleeping Bear Dunes - Empire Bluff Trail

This trail is good for Hiking

  • Length: 0.81 mi
  • Surface: Natural
  • Organization: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Trail Website:

The trail leads through beech-maple forest to a high, coastal bluff with boardwalks and an observation deck overlooking Lake Michigan. The views of the Lake Michigan shoreline and Sleeping Bear Bluffs, the plains around the village of Empire, and of South Bar Lake are spectacular. The hike is 1.5 mile round trip. A few hill climbs on the way up to the bluff make this a moderate hike. Descending the bluffs is not allowed.

Trail brochures are available at the trailhead that provide interpretive descriptions of areas along the trail.  To access the trail, follow M-22 to Wilco Road and follow it to the top of the hill. Trailhead parking and a picnic area are on the left.


For Empire Bluff Trail details and maps, check out

A Park Pass is required for all trail use within the Lakeshore: Fee Information.


Note: Not all sections of each trail are approved for every activity listed for the trail as a whole. Please click on individual trail sections to see approved activities for that section.

Map Legend

  • Trail Head
  • Historical Site
  • Beach
  • Natural Feature
  • Campground
  • Park
  • Cultural Interest
  • Scenic View
  • Educational Interest
  • Visitor Center
  • Emergency Care
  • Water Access
  • Fishing
  • Wildlife or Nature Viewing
  • Trail Friendly Business

Trail Photos


UV Index

Trail Documents

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