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Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
568.00 ft (173.13 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
2.70 mi (4.35 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Once rated the most beautiful place in America by Good Morning America, Sleeping Bear Dunes plays host to numerous outdoor adventures. With sand dunes that climb approximately 450 feet along the water's edge of Lake Michigan, numerous scenic vistas and exciting climbs await adventurers of all skill levels. One of the most popular overlooks in the national lakeshore is Pyramid Point. It offers visitors views of North and South Manitou islands and the numerous blue hues that make the lakeshore so beautiful.

Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore rests in Leelanau County, which hosts one of Michigan's top wine destinations and is quite busy and popular in the summer and fall. However, the park is open year round, and visiting in the offseason will still offer beautiful views with fewer crowds.

When venturing to Pyramid Point in the early spring, there is a good chance snow will still be on the ground in some areas. The National Park Service does not plow Basch Road, which is where the trailhead rests, so would-be hikers are encouraged to park at the end of South Port Oneida Road and add a half-mile to the hike. Some adventurers choose to make their way up to the trailhead, but take caution as a tow service is at least 30 minutes away.

Leaving from the roadside parking at South Port Oneida Road, head up Basch Road approximately a quarter-mile, where the trailhead will be seen on the left. At the trailhead, a vault toilet is available as well as information about the area. Follow the trail as it meanders through a small valley that rests behind the dunes to the left of the trail. As the trail gradually climbs, a grove of birch trees will be encountered. These offer a beautiful contrast in the summer and spring, but when snow is on the ground they enhance a sense of purity to the white blanket that covers the landscape.

Within the grove, the first intersection will be encountered. Continue the climb north toward Pyramid Point. As the overlook gets closer, the trail will get steeper, and more sand will be visible. In early spring, the wind coming off Lake Michigan makes for a chilling headwind, so a jacket or barrier of some sort is helpful. Few views can compare to the deep blue vista that floods the adventurer's eyes when he or she crests the trail and arrives at the overlook. Endless blue is seen with the exception of North and South Manitou islands (additional members of the national lakeshore), and many an adventurer can get lost in the ever-changing hues.

Take a moment to enjoy the beauty. There are several perches and trees to rest on. Once ready to continue, climb back down the trail and return to the intersection. At this point, the loop portion for the hike begins and the trail starts to climb down into the dunes. As the path evens out and skirts the bottom of another dune, a canvas of sand dusted over snow can be observed in early spring, painting the landscape tan with hues of white, a novel sight for even the most experienced of adventurers.

The path eventually comes to another intersection, where turning left to continue northeast will guide the hiker into a pasture and deeper into the lakeshore park, but this loop turns south to begin the climb back out of the dunes. Another intersection is not far down the trail, the return loop of the aforementioned extension. Turn right to climb up the path back toward the trailhead. At the top of the climb, the trail merges with Basch Road, which will guide the hiker back to the trailhead on a steady downhill trek along the gravel path.

While atop the dunes, take care to mind the height and descend at your own risk. Sleeping Bear Dunes logs more rescue calls than the likes of Yellowstone, Glacier, and Olympic national parks. After the hike, a venture into Glen Arbor offers a multitude of seasonal food and drink offerings as well as Cherry Republic's brewery and wine tasting room. Thirty minutes away, Traverse City has a multitude of breweries and eateries to sample.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Beautiful vistas. Short to long hike depending on loops chosen.

Cons

Very busy in summer.

Trailhead Elevation

668.00 ft (203.61 m)

Highest point

999.00 ft (304.50 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Historically significant
Wildlife
Family friendly
Big vistas
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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