The cross-country ski trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offer gorgeous wooded scenery, overlooks of Lake Michigan and trail options for all ages and abilities.
Before hitting the trails, check out this MyNorth video for a look at the ever-changing ice formations along the lakeshore, the moon-like dunes and the expansive forests.
Note that with the exception of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, these trails are not groomed. It’s always recommended that you ski with another person.
Two loops, each about 2.5 miles in length, run through maple and beech forest. The Green Arrow Loop (easy) and Black Arrow Loop (advanced) both offer a scenic overlook of Lake Michigan. Parking and trailhead located off M22 near Sutter Road intersection. Located about 14 miles southwest of downtown Empire.
The mostly flat terrain at Platte Plains offers trail options for every user: easy, intermediate and advanced.
Easy: Park at Esch Road trailhead for a beautiful 4.6-mile loop around Otter Creek and Otter Lake. For a longer route, connect to the 3.5-mile Bass Lake Loop.
Intermediate: A 1.1-mile intermediate trail connects Bass Lake Loop to the trailhead and parking lot located off M22 near Trail End Road.
Advanced: The 6.6-mile Lasso Loop offers three scenic overlooks of Lake Michigan. Some short, steep hills. Access the trail from Platte River Campground.
A hilly 1.5-mile loop (with very steep downhill section) offering views of Glen Lake, Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Trailhead is located off Welch Road near M109 intersection.
A 2.4-mile designated cross-country ski trail (pets are not allowed between December 1 and March 31). Hilly terrain. The trail crosses Shauger Hill Road and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, watch for vehicles. Parking is available off Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in a side lot (access road before the kiosk).
Total of 9 miles split into three loops: easy, intermediate, advanced. The trailhead is located off Stocking Road near the intersection of Day Farm Road.
Easy: 2.7 miles with easy access to Islands Lookout.
Intermediate: 2.4-mile loop plus 1.4 miles along Easy Trail (to access the Intermediate Trail). Optional 1.6 mile round trip to Big Glen Lookout.
Advanced: 3.3-mile loop plus .4 mile on Easy Trail (to access the Advanced Trail).
Good Harbor Bay
Flat 2.8-mile loop with access to Lake Michigan beach near the trailhead. Take M22 to County Road 669 and make left on Lake Michigan Road. Trailhead located before picnic area.
Three trail loops totaling 8 miles. Views of historic Olsen Farm and Lake Michigan. Hilly terrain.
Easy: 2.3-mile Farms Trail loop goes past Olsen Farm and Miller Barn. Access at Thoreson Road trailhead.
Intermediate: High Trail (1 mile), Moosewood Trail (1.5 miles). Access at Thoreson Road trailhead.
Advanced: Ridge Trail (.6 mile)—leads to Lookout Point offering a panoramic view of Lake Michigan. Access off of Farms Trail at trail junction post 3.
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is groomed when there’s sufficient snow. The trail, which will eventually run for 27 miles, currently stretches 22 miles from Empire to Bohemian Road in Maple City. Trailheads are at Bar Lake Road, Pierce Stocking, Dune Climb, Glen Haven, Alligator Hill, Crystal River, Bay View and Port Oneida.
Update and map for Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is here.
For more information and trail maps, check out the National Park Service website.
More Outdoor Winter Activities in Northern Michigan:
Guide to Sleeping Bear Dunes Hiking Trails
Roundup of Northern Michigan Sled/Ski Hills for Kids (and adults!)
Northern Michigan Winter Fat Tire Biking Trails & Races