Sunday, August 3, 2014

Empire Bluff Trail, Sleeping Bear Dunes

A mere seven tenths of a mile hike on a relatively level terrain through mostly dense woods, with a sprig of wildflowers growing here and there, and you find yourself approaching a sign that warns to stay on the trail as "Steep Bluffs" are ahead. This is the trail at Empire Bluff just south of the tiny town of Empire, Mighigan. It is also the southern most point of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

As you peer out over the landscape looking north, you catch a portion of South Bar Lake which sits just inland from Lake Michigan. There are many inland lakes around this "thumb in the mitten" portion of the state of Michigan as locals call it.

Most of the images I captured from Empire Bluff looked north toward the massive dune. In the far left of this frame sits South Manitou Island. North of South Manitou is Manitou Island. I would have liked to have taken the ferry over to the island to walk around while I was in Leland earlier on this particular day, but I wanted to drive south and hike to Empire Bluff.

The actual bluff itself with the boardwalk didn't afford the prettiest views of the dunes so these images were taken about a tenth of a mile before you reach the boardwalk. This viewpoint is where the trail ends in winter due to the hazardous snow and ice conditions on the boardwalk and bluffs.

One has to wonder peering down from the boardwalk at this tree trunk just where it began its journey, having found its resting place here on the side of the bluff. I tried to imagine winter's wrath bearing down on this bluff and the sand dunes to the north. Imagine, if you can, five to six feet of lake effect snow covering this bluff and the dunes. It's hard to imagine, but is very real here in winter. ENJOY!


  1. I read about Manitou Islands in Gary's blog" Me,Boomer and the Vermilon River", they are in Lake Nipissing,Ontario, and now here is the other one, what a superb outlook so high up, and I can only imagine how stunning when covered with huge snowfalls. Lovely analogy, a mitten and thumb, looks so like that. Beautiful blue water. Cheers,Jean.

  2. This is such a beautiful wilderness area. My friend, Mary, summers at her family cottage in the UP - I visited her there several years ago and would love to go again, but it's a long flight and then drive! I'm glad there are still these untouched spots in the world.

  3. very lovely views; great location, and I am imagining.... Carole, at