Empire Bluff

Location: Drive about 1 mile south of Empire on M-22 and turn right (west) on the first road (Wilco Rd.) The trailhead is located about half mile on Wilco Rd.

Parking Lot: Gravel

Restroom: A vault toilet is near the parking lot, but the slope to reach it is 12%. There is also a small curb barrier at the door to the vault toilet.

Water: No drinking water is available.

Trail Length:1.5 miles round trip from the trailhead to the overlook deck.

Terrain:Moderate hike with some hills through beech-maple forest to an observation deck on Empire Bluffs about 450 feet above Lake Michigan.

Trail Tread: Packed earth at least 36” wide except for a section of boardwalk near the overlook that is only 24” wide.

Difficulty: In some areas exposed roots create uneven tread.

Click on the link to see a detailed description of the trail. This report describes trail obstacles and trail surface. Cell phone coverage may be limited in the Park, so download and save. Empire Bluff Trail detail

Comments: This is one of the most popular trails in the Park because of the outstanding vistas of Lake Michigan, South Bar Lake, Empire, and Sleeping Bear Dunes. You will find many spring flowers on this trail. Photographs of the view from the end of this trail are often used when describing Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Most of this trail is in designated wilderness.

There are some abandoned historic farm implements along the trail about 0.1 miles from the trailhead. A bench is located near the trail about 0.6 miles from the trailhead. The view of Lake Michigan, South Bar Lake, and Sleeping Bear bluffs is spectacular from this bench. The trail goes a short distance to a relatively narrow boardwalk and observation platform.



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