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 | Traveling Michigan

The Empire Bluff Trail 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!


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

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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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 …

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