top of page
Screenshot 2024-03-29 at 7.25.33 PM.png
The Story of Sleeping Ber Dunes Nationa Lakshor

We first camped at the Platte River Campgrounds  in 2017 and it’s been a biannual pilgrimage ever since. With 35 miles of lakeshore, the turquoise shores of Lake Michigan meet massive sand dunes to provide a stunning landscape unique to the Midwest. Adjacent forests and spring-fed lakes and rivers provide even more opportunities for outdoor recreation. ​ The park gets its name from one dune in particular, located on Sleeping Bear Point, based on the legend of the Ashininaabek people: Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but soon the cubs tired. Mother bear reached the shore first and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. The cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the eternal vigil of mother bear.

Hikes, Beches, and NPS Areas

Esch Beach 

Whether you come for a perfect beach day, hike for miles down along the lake, or enjoy the Otter Creak Trail this beach has it all. If you have a furry friend along with you you'll want to head north from the parking lot to find a beach spot. Piping plovers nest to the south of the parking lot, so pets are not allowed. Be sure to verify any new changes that will be posted before you get onto the beach. Three out of three passersby agree we have the best beach spot, so if you're around after the wedding and up for an 45min/1hr hike along the beach come find us! 

Otter Creak Trail Head: 44.76204776984709, -86.07375850061278

4.7-mile Loop

Easy. 1.5 hours. 

82-ft elevation gain

Beautiful views of Otter Lake. 

Our Spot: 44.78554822022374, -86.07586477226846

3-mile round tip from parking lot. 

Easy. 45min

No elevation gain.

A lovey walk along Lake Michigan. 


Alligator Hill Trail 

This NPS sanctioned hike not far from the resort that provides a spectacular view of Lake Michigan and North and South Manitou Islands as well as Sleeping Bear Point from the lookout. From the trailhead, take a left at the first juncture (follow easy loop signage) and it’s a wooded 1.5-mile gentle climb to the lookout. Patches of blackberries and raspberries can be found along the way. There is a bench at the lookout to sit, relax, and enjoy. Follow “easy loop” signage back to the trailhead.

Trailhead: 44.889691330284705, -86.02156164836634

3-mile loop in total.

Easy/Moderate. 1-1.5 hours.

360-ft elevation gain.

Panoramic views of Sleeping Bear Bay.


Bay View Trail  

Abandoned farm field. Witches liar. Cemetery. Bluff views. This hike has everything! This out and back hike starts at the Bay View Trailhead. Head directly north on the farms trail, which winds itself through some wooded areas before opening up to an abandoned farm field. The path skirts the edge of the meadow, but eventually the paths dives back into the forest and out again. Instead of continuing further south towards the open field, head northwest onto the unsanctioned trail that heads into the forest. The path continues in dense forest past a wooded lean-to structure and a tiny cemetery. Continue north while gaining elevation along the wooded ridge line, where the waves crashing can be heard below, but the dense forest obscures a view of the lake. Eventually the forest turns into a bald sand dune with rewarding 360° views of Lake Michigan and the rolling forest inland. Perfect stopping point for a picnic prior to heading back. You can continue north, and the path makes a steep decline to the Port Oneida beach access, but expect an additional 30-45 mins of strenuous hiking there and back.


Trailhead: 44.9340544901731, -85.94966055027714

1.75-mile out to lookout and back, with an additional 0.25 miles to and back from beach .

Easy (with some steep inclines along ridge lines near Lake)

1-1.5 hours.

200-ft elevation gain.

Panoramic views of the Lake, Manitou Islands, and rolling forest. 


Treat Farm Trail 

This hike begins through the woods and ends up at an abandoned farm. Continue along the path through the abandoned farm meadow to reach the start of the ridge. Climb the path up the ridge for a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan and the surrounding beach and dunes. To the right you can climb to the top of Old Baldy Dune for a higher perspective. Head to the left and the forest takes over, perfect for hanging a hammock with a view. All are perfect places for a sunset picnic as you face directly west. Our favorite spot on Esch Beach is directly below this overlook. 

Trailhead: 44.79287680767948, -86.05796310007004

2.3-mile out and back.

Moderate. 1-1.5 hours.

230-ft elevation gain.

Westerly facing views of Lake Michigan. 


Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

This scenic drive provides a greatest hits list of thins to see in the park without having to break a sweat. There are numerous scenic views to stop along the drive, including the famous Sleeping Bear Overlook. 

Drive Entrance: 44.85275913131936, -86.03651492927605

Driving in a 7.4 mile loop. 

Resturant ad Shops

Restaurants and Shops

Crystal River Outfitters

6249 River Rd, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Closet to the resort, the outfitter is your go to for beach, canoe, kayak, surf, and bike rentals. Pick up a souvenir and stay for a the outdoor wine tasting. 

Cherry Republic

6026-B, 5109, S Lake St, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

While we wouldn't recommend it for their food, we would for everything else! A great indoor/outdoor pet friendly space with live music, great wine and beer, an ice cream shop, and a gift shop you can pick up anything from chocolate covered cherries to cherry quest dip made from local MI cherries! 

Art’s Tavern

6487 W Western Ave, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Close to the resort in downtown Glen Arbor. Standard diner fare for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Cash only.

Empire Village Inn

11601 S Lacore Rd, Empire, MI 49630

If you wandering south of Glen Arbor, this tavern is known for their pizza and beer selection.

Millie's Pizza and Ice Cream

6281 W Western Ave, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Down the street from the resort with limited hours, but a must stop for Detroit style pizza lovers. Be sure to get there early as they often sell out. 

Market 22

497 E Harbor Hwy, Maple City, MI 49664

Just north of the resort, this place is known for their Detroit style pizza.


5705 S Lake St, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

For those looking for a more refined dining experience. Watch the sun set over Lake Michigan from their patio. 


L'Chayim Delicatessen

6400 W Western Ave, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Good place in downtown Glen Arbor to get a sandwich. Online ordering available.  

The Mill Glen Arbor

5440 W Harbor Hwy, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Located near the resort, this recently opened venue has the best coffee in town.


Shipwreck Café

11691 S Lacore Rd, Empire, MI 49630

The pizza is fine, but their sandwiches are great for a trip to the beach!

Iron Fish Distillery

14234 Dzuibanek Rd, Thompsonville, MI 49683

If driving, be sure to stop by on your way in or out for lunch/dinner.  Pick up a bottle of locally made (and delicious) barrel aged gin if you're into that sort of thing.

Downtown Glen Arbor Shops

The intersection of the M-22 loop. 

Glen Arbor hosts a variety of boutique shops where you are certain to find anything you are looking for. Be sure to browse through the local section at the Cottage Book Store.  

bottom of page