Empire Bluffs Trail Hike Route Map

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - Empire Bluff Trail

After a nearly three year hiatus it was time to once again get the boys back to the big dunes.  With one short day to gather in all the sights we could of Sleeping Bear that meant keeping the trails short.  Luckily at Sleeping Bear Dunes, however, the shortest trails are some of the prettiest.  Perhaps none so for the effort as the Empire Bluff Trail.  

Beginning from a small parking area just south of the village of Empire and the Lakeshore Headquarters, the Empire Bluff Trail winds its way quite leisurely out to one of the highest and steepest dunes in the entire lakeshore.  Rising some 400'+ from the waters of Lake Michigan, Empire Bluff is a place you simply have to visit...words really don't do it justice.  Come along and see for yourself... 

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  44.799153, -86.058490

Route Type:  Out-and-back               Difficulty:  EASY  (Petzoldt Rating:  1.76 )

Hike Length: 1.5 miles                         Hike Duration: 1:00

Trailhead Temp: 45'F                          Trail Traffic:  5-10 people

Min. Elevation: 870'                             Max. Elevation: 1,015'

Total Vertical Gain: 130'                      Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 173'

Trails Used (blaze color): Empire Bluff Trail (unblazed)


  • Dave Kathy Weemhoff

    on August 19, 2015

    I totally agree -- you just have to see it to realize just how huge the dune area is!!! Nothing like the water color of a springtime great lake! :) Breathtaking!