Sleeping Bear Dunes: Empire Bluff Trail
Few trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore lead to a more spectacular view at the end as does this short path to the edge of Empire Bluff. The bluff rises more than 400 feet above the sandy shoreline of Lake Michigan and puts you in a lofty perch to view a large chunk of the national lakeshore.
Add six interpretive posts and an accompanying brochure that explains the natural and geological history of the area, and you have one of the best short hikes in the state.
The round trip is only 1.5 miles, but is rated moderate due to the amount of climbing involved. You also have to keep an eye out for poison ivy, commonly seen in the open areas along the way, and should definitely refrain from descending the sandy bluffs at the end since it will hasten erosion.
The trail is open year-round and makes for a far better snowshoe trek than it does for Nordic skiing, even with backcountry skis. Mountain biking is not allowed on the trail.
As a hike, Empire Bluff is an excellent choice for families and can be done by most people in under an hour. Pack along a lunch and enjoy it with view that would rival any tableside view at Michigan’s finest restaurants. Better yet, bring a flashlight and arrive at near dusk on a clear evening for a sunset second to none.
|Difficulty - Moderate|