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Dunes Hiking Trail

Empire, MI
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Ranked #6 of 12 attractions in Empire
Type: Hiking Trails
Activities: Hiking
Description: This 4.5-mile challenging hiking trail is the most popular in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
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18 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
31 attraction reviews
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2014

I didn't plan on hiking all the way to the lake, but my 14 year-old and 12 year-old really wanted to finish the climb. This trail takes some want-to. I've hiked in the Smokies and the Rockies and am fairly fit, but hiking over sand is a new experience. Plus, we were trying to hurry because we left my five... More

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
15 attraction reviews
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2014

A lot of variable terrain. Very sandy trails, so 1 step forward, then slide 1/2 step back. Very hot inland away from the shore breeze. Be sure to go out with plenty of water.

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Grand Rapids, Michigan
Top Contributor
118 reviews 118 reviews
37 attraction reviews
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 25, 2013

When the ranger told me this was 110 feet I thought "no big deal." I expected it to be a little tougher because of the sand, but it was a lot tougher. It took me over 20 minutes to get to the top and I stopped to catch my breath about 8 times. I didn't realize that it would go... More

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Nashville, TN
Top Contributor
516 reviews 516 reviews
317 attraction reviews
487 helpful votes 487 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2013

Make the Dune Climb early in the day while you have fresh energy and the day is not so warm. We climbed the initial 110 foot dune -- beautiful golden sand set against a brillant blue sky on a gorgeous day. We made sure to use sunscreen before the climb; we wore our hats and took a 2 liter bottle... More

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
17 reviews 17 reviews
4 attraction reviews
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2013

The vista is stunning! But be prepared, it isn't at the top of the first sand dune. OMG. take your time!!!!!! and give yourself more than an hour. 4-6 if you want to hike to the lakeshore. The sand is deep and gives way as you hike, barefoot. Shoes are almost impossible on the actual dunes so it takes a... More

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Thompsonville, Michigan
Top Contributor
126 reviews 126 reviews
31 attraction reviews
70 helpful votes 70 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

We did the Dunes Trail with four families with kids from 12 to 4 years old. It isn’t an easy hike due to the sand and moderate incline, but it is doable if you take the slow and steady approach. The view is worth it at the end, but it is similar to the view you can get at other... More

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Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
22 attraction reviews
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2013

We hiked the Dune Climb all the way to Lake Michigan and it was beautiful but definitely a challenge on a hot summer day. Only 4 miles round trip, it felt much further with all the climbing and loose sand. A shorter climb would still be fun if a hike all the way is not what you want to do.... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
9 attraction reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2012

This trail is definitely not for the unfit. You must carry your own water and the trail starts with a hike up the Dunes and continues about a mile and a half back to the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. You can climb down the bluff to the water but it is a djfficult and strenuous climb both down and up.... More

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Nashville, Tennessee
14 reviews 14 reviews
7 attraction reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2012

Ran by the dune trailhead while participating in the Empire, MI marathon/half-marathon on 6 Oct 12 and decided we just had to return to climb the dune. Took our nature loving dog with us as always and began the climb to the top thinking it might take about 5 min. Upon arriving at what we thought was the top of... More

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Concord, Ohio
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2012

The hiking trail on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive had some nice views. It was a nice hike, but nothing extraordinary. It was good exercise and some nice scenery.

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