Empire Bluff Trail Map and Guide - Sleeping Bear Dunes Hiking Trails + Trail Length, Difficulty, Directions, Photos, Know Before You Go

Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National LakeshoreEmpire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Empire Bluff Trail Sleeping Bear Dunes | By Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com | Updated October 14, 2022

The Bluff Trail at Empire is 1.5 miles round trip hiking trail with incredible views of Lake Michigan and the towering Sleeping Bear Dunes. There are boardwalks leading to an overlook that is just magnificent.

Grab our guide for Know Before You Go tips and photos.

If you only have time for one Sleeping Bear Dunes trail during your Michigan vacation, I would choose this trail as it is not too difficult or time consuming + the views are absolutely worth it! We hope you love our Empire Bluff Trail photos!

Isn't This Trail Breathtaking!?


Is Empire Bluff Trail Free?

The National Lakeshore charges a visitor fee of $25 per vehicle for a seven day pass.  You can purchase passes at the Phillip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire.  You can also purchase them at the Dune Climb and at Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National LakeshoreEmpire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

How Difficult is the Empire Bluff Trail?

Empire Bluff Trail difficulty:

The Empire Bluff Trail has some level areas and some pretty sleep inclines.  If you have unsure footing I would not attempt this trail.  The Empire Bluff Trail Sleeping Bear Dunes is a dirt trail that is narrow at times and several areas have sharp drop offs. 

  • Be sure to watch our video so you can determine if the trail is right for you. 

Do You Need a Park Pass for Empire Bluff Trail?

Yes you will need a park pass for the Empire Bluff Trail.  The National Lakeshore charges a visitor fee of $25 per vehicle for a seven day pass. 

You can purchase passes at the Phillip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire.  You can also purchase Sleeping Bear Dunes passes at the Dune Climb and at Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Empire Bluff Trail Directions and Address

Empire Bluff Trail Address: Parking lot, Wilco Rd, Empire, MI 49630

Empire Bluff Trail Directions: From Empire, travel south on M-22 and turn right onto Wilco. The trailhead will be on your left.

Are Dogs Allowed on the Empire Bluff Trail?

Yes, but they must be on a maximum of a 6 foot leash. 

Are Their Bathrooms at the Empire Bluff Trail?

Yes, there is a single porta-john on the right side of the trail just a few feet from the parking lot. I always pack TP and hand sanitizer. 

Empire Bluff Trail Map - Empire Bluff Trail Distance

The Empire Bluff Trail is 1.5 miles round trip to the top with incredible views of Lake Michigan. You can't get lost, it's a straight line with trail markers 1-6 so you can mark your progress. The parking lot is gravel. 

This is one of our favorite Sleeping Bear Dunes trails, so be sure to enjoy it! Isn't it beautiful!?

Want to Hike Some More? Grab Our Guide To Sleeping Bear Dunes Trails - Map, Photos, Tips

Subscribe To Receive Exciting Destinations, Day Trips and Fun Directly to Your Inbox!

Cute Baby Ducks on Our Newsletter InviteTraveling Michigan Newsletter

Sign Up to Our Newsletter to Get the 5 Free Must Have Apps to Travel in Michigan Like a Boss!

Follow Us on Instagram 

Have A Great Story About This Topic?

Do you have a great story about this? Share it!

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

How difficult is the Empire Bluff Trail? Not rated yet
Can my kids hike up this trail? Just wondering how hard it is. Answer Hi Jenny, Thanks for asking! Really, it depends on the ages of your …

Is Empire Bluff Trail Free? Not rated yet
We will be visiting soon and I'm searching for info. Thanks! Answer Hi Kelly, You will need a Sleeping Bear Dunes pass for any hikes in the …

Click here to write your own.

Sherry Trautman Bio Picture

About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

Thanks for stopping by!

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.”

"Sherry & Chris"

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 "Travel-mi.com." 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 Travel-MI.com. 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.

Sherry & Chris are at the Inn at Bay Harbor and looking out at the lake.
Read More About Us Here

Join our newsletter of Michigan Explorers!

Share Social

When you wish destinations came with a 30 second trailer so you can see what you’re getting yourself into.  

If you whine and are nice, IM us and we will tell you if you are truly screwed or not. 

You might like these

Where Do You Want To Start Your Next Adventure?

Slickstream Search Box