Arcadia Dunes Michigan on M-22! Best Scenic Hikes at CS Mott Nature Preserve | Hiking Trail Map to Baldy Dunes, See Sparkling Lake Michigan Shoreline, Pete's Woods Trail | Baldy Trailhead | Near Sleeping Bear Dunes

Arcadia Dunes Michigan on M-22: Hike CS Mott Nature Preserve Near Sleeping Bear Dunes | By Sherry Trautman | | Updated July 11, 2-23

If you love hiking, incredible scenery, nature, forests and photography, you will  absolutely love these dunes and the CS Mott Nature Preserve located on M-22 Scenic Highway in Arcadia Michigan.

As an added bonus, the sparkling shoreline of Lake Michigan is simply breathtaking from the top of the dunes! 

Scenic Towns and Things to Do Nearby:

See the Incredible Hiking Trails at Arcadia Dunes!

Arcadia Dunes Trail Map at CS Mott Nature Preserve

This is the trail map that is located in the parking lot at the Baldy Trailhead. 

Pro Tip: Take a photo of the map so you can easily follow the trail markers.   

The trails are a combination of gravel, dirt and boardwalk. 

  • Please note, there is no easy/direct beach access from these trails.

Be sure to use our Google Maps link to easily find Arcadia Dunes!

How Far is the Walk To Baldy Dune?

It's about .9 miles one way from the parking area if you walk there by the most direct trail possible. 

Arcadia Dunes Baldy Trailhead Parking

Parking for the Arcadia Dunes Baldy Trailhead is located off Scenic Highway in Arcadia, Michigan. There's a large sign marking the gravel parking area.  There are plenty of off-road parking spaces.

CS Mott Nature Preserve and Arcadia Dunes is located just north of the Manistee/Benzie County line. 

Are Dogs Allowed at Arcadia Dunes?

Dogs are welcome, but they must be leashed at all times! 

About Gorgeous Arcadia Dunes and Baldy Dune

You can enjoy two miles of gorgeous Lake Michigan shoreline with large expanses of lovely dunes and forests at Arcadia Dunes.  

  • DID YOU KNOW? Baldy Dune is considered a "perched open dune" which means the dunes were formed by wind traveling up the coastal bluff that blew away the fine material from the sloped.  Over time, winds deposited sand on top of the bluff to form the dunes. 

As you hike along the trails to the Baldy overlook, you will pass through a scenic northern hardwood forest consisting of sugar maples, American beech, white ash, basswood, hemlock and more tree varieties.

See what types of trees you can spot!

Red did you know icon

Did you know Baldy is a dune on top of a glacial moraine that is about 450 feet above Lake Michigan?

What is a glacial moraine?  They are ridges of sand, gravel, stone and clay that remain after glacial ice retreats.  They form steep bluffs along the shoreline.

The More Accessible Overlook Trail at Arcadia Dunes

The easiest trail at Arcadia Dunes is the Overlook Trail which is .5 miles one direction (1 mile round trip). 

Trail Markers starting at the parking lot: 1, 8, 7

The surface is a combination of crushed gravel and boardwalk.  The trail heads west.  

Most of the trail is on sturdy boardwalks (see our video above). Only the area near the lookout at the end is hard packed dirt but you can push a stroller on it.

Isn't this view of Lake Michigan just incredible!  Take time to sit and enjoy the area! 

After you enjoy the incredible views of Lake Michigan, you can continue north to see Baldy Dune.

The Baldy Dune Trail

Gorgeous Arcadia DunesBaldy Dune Trail at Arcadia Dunes

The path I enjoy taking is trail markers 1, 8, 7, 6 and 5 up to Baldy (the open perched dunes.)

This way, you can see the Overlook trail on your way to Baldy Dunes. This route is 1.3 miles one way or 2.6 miles round trip.

How hard is the hike?  Most of the path is relatively flat and easy. Once you reach trail marker 5, it's a pretty strenuous upward climb with several stairs but the view is worth it. Just take your time and enjoy the scenery along the way!

There's lots of interesting signage that tells the history of the area.

Baldy Dune Trail at Arcadia DunesBaldy Dune Trail at Arcadia Dunes

It's best to wear closed toe hiking shoes or boots to protect your feet. The sand can be very hot in the summer.

The views are incredible as you can see the Frankfort lighthouse and miles of Lake Michigan's sparkling shoreline

Are There Bathrooms At Arcadia Dunes?

Arcadia Dunes Porta JohnArcadia Dunes Porta John

After you park, head west on the Overlook Trail.  Just shortly after you start the trail you will see the porta john. It's the only one along the trail.

St. Pierre Mountain Bike Trail and Dry Hills Trail

We have not personally ridden the St. Pierre Mountain Bike Trail/Dry Hill Trails but I hear it's fantastic.

The St. Pierre trailhead is located on St. Pierre, right off M-22 Scenic Highway. It's across the street from the Baldy Trailhead.

Pete's Woods Trail

Another lovely area of the CS Mott Preserve is Pete’s Woods Trail. It is located west of the Baldy Trailhead. The Swamp Road trailhead is a 1.5-mile loop that winds through a dense forest with moderate climbs. It's a fabulous hike in the fall due to the rainbow of colorful leaves.  It's a also gorgeous in April and May as the wildflowers are blooming. 

Hope We Inspired You To Visit Arcadia Dunes and CS Mott Nature Preserve!

We hope you have a great time!  xoxo, Sherry and Chris

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About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

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Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

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We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "" A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

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