If you’re looking for a challenging hike with beautiful views of Lake Michigan, South Manitou Island, and North Manitou Island, then Sleeping Bear Point Trail in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is for you. This trail was cho...
If you’re looking for a challenging hike with beautiful views of Lake Michigan, South Manitou Island, and North Manitou Island, then Sleeping Bear Point Trail in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is for you. This trail was chosen the #1 Hike-to-View in all the national parks in the National Geographic book, The 10 Best of Everything National Parks.
The trailhead begins in the parking area at the end of Sleeping Bear Dunes Road off of M-209, just west of Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station Maritime Museum. The narrow trail immediately brings the hiker to the dune environment where the endangered Piping Plover nests. Information signs tell the tale of how few of these birds are left and warn against disturbing them. Stay on the trail through this area.
Not far beyond the nesting area is what’s called the Ghost Forest. It’s an eerie place where bare, weathered tree trunks jut up like spikes from the beige pebble filled sand.
Deer and bird tracks can be seen crisscrossing the dunes and from the looks of it, they have just as hard a time making it through the soft sand. Even the slightest changes in topography makes the sand slip down onto, over, and into your shoes making every step that much more difficult. These sandy dunes are constantly shifting, so, a number of the blue topped posts marking the passage are buried or have fallen down, leaving hikers to find their own way through some areas.
This trail is considered strenuous. A combination of cold winds coming off the lake and the hot sun shining through clear skies can make your nose run and your armpits sweat at the same time. The tops of dunes can be very windy. Exposed skin will feel like it’s getting sand blasted. Nature can be harsh up there, but the panoramic view of Lake Michigan’s blue-green hued water makes it all worth while. These vantage points are great for seeing the islands, the lighthouse, and barges moving through the passage. And even though it’s only 2.8 miles long, ripples on the wind-blown sands have a way of deceiving the eyes. Looking upon a short distance may actually appear to be a long way and vice versa.
The light blue color painted on the tops of the trail marker posts matches the blue of the water near the shore. This color grows into a darker blue as the water gets deeper farther away from shore.
Bees had built a hive in the sand at the base of one of the trail marker posts when we walked the trail. Be careful not to disturb them and walk around the area if you happen upon them too. There’s nowhere to hide if they decide to come after you.
Near the end of the loop trail, is a forested area where the sandy trail surface quickly changes to smoothed stones that were deposited by a glacier long ago. This shaded area with gently rolling terrain is a stark contrast to the shifting, sinking, sandy environment that the majority of the trail offers and is a welcome ending to a very nice hike. If you make it to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this hike is not to be missed.
How to choose the best sleeping bag
Bear Grylls Injured in Antarctica
Jacket + Tent + Sleeping Bag = JakPak