Pyramid Point Trail

Hikers on the wide trail through early spring-green trees
A wooded trail leads to a spectacular overlook.

NPS credit

Quick Facts

Toilet - Vault/Composting, Trailhead

Loop 2.7 miles long. With a spur to a lookout point high over Lake Michigan. Lookout point is about 0.6 miles from the trailhead


Beech-maple forest, fields and pine plantation

A vault toilet is available at the trailhead.

Trail leads to a lookout at the top of Pyramid Point. To protect the bluff from erosion and for your safety, do not descend the bluff. Note that the last portion of the trail Basch Road. Watch for traffic. 

More details
In an area of the state known for its stunning panoramas of sand dunes, islands, and the many blues of Lake Michigan, Pyramid Point is one of the best. The 2.6-mile trail traverses three diverse landscapes: old farm fields and meadows, century-old beech-maple forests, and the high bluffs overlooking the lake.

Hike 0.6 miles to the overlook and take in the awe inspiring views of Lake Michigan, the Manitou Islands, and sometimes a Great Lakes freighter. Find the North Manitou Shoal Light-or "the Crib"- protecting the passage from a dangerous shoal. It often looks like a large white sail on the lake. Varying depths and shoals create beautiful shades of blues and greens in Lake Michigan. The hike up to the point is fairly easy and appropriate for all ages.

Going down the steep dune to the water's edge is not advised. It's farther down than it looks (you can't actually see the bottom from the top).

Most people hike to the the lookout for the view and then return, a 1.2-mile round trip. Continue on the trail and you'll find yourself off the beaten path. Explore the length of this trail and you will be rewarded with gorgeous views, large sand bowls to wander through, meadows of wildflowers, and shaded, leafy forests. You'll often have the trail to yourself. The last 0.4 miles of the loop follows Basch Road, a quiet dirt road.

There is a connector trail between posts, numbered 2 and 3. This connector shortens the trail to 2 miles. At the end, be careful on Basch Road as you return to the trailhead.

A vault toilet is available at trailhead.

Hike Safely

Before you take off down the trail, take time to prepare for a successful hike. Make sure the trail is appropriate for your ability, and travel with a companion and notify someone of your route and expected return time.

Take plenty of drinking water, bring sunscreen, wear a hat, and be prepared for mosquitoes.

Be careful of your footing-trails have uneven ground, exposed roots, etc.
Sand slide danger is always present on steep dunes. Stay off steep bluffs to avoid falls and dislodging rocks that can injure people below. Because of heavy treefall, avoid forested trails on windy days.
Remember, deer rifle season is November 15-30. Other hunting seasons occur throughout the year. Wear bright-colored clothing to be seen and safe in the woods.

And please stay on designated trails and help prevent erosion and damage to vegetation. Off-trail hikers can quickly produce paths that take years to revegetate. Threatened and endangered species occur in the park, avoid disturbing plants and animals.

Poison Ivy: leaves of three, leave it be!

Poison ivy grows plentifully in many areas of the Lakeshore as a vine or low shrub. The leaves are red in early spring, shiny green in summer, and an attractive red or orange in the fall. Each leaf consists of three leaflets. Most people are sensitive in varying degrees to the sap of this plant, which makes the skin itch, blister, and swell.
Avoid contact with all parts of the plant. Avoid plants with three leaflets.
If exposed, wash the affected skin with soap and water as soon as possible.

Don't get ticked!: protect yourself from tick bites

Avoid ticks by walking in the center of trails and avoiding contact with vegetation.
Use a repellent (on skin or clothing) and wear close-toed shoes, long sleeves, long pants, and socks. Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to easily spot ticks.
Check your clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks. Avoid sitting directly on the ground, fallen logs, or stone walls.

After being outdoors
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, and remove any ticks you find.
Check your clothing for ticks. Place clothes into a dryer on high heat for at least an hour.
Shower soon after being outdoors; it may reduce your risk of being bitten.
Check these parts of your body and your child's body for ticks:
Under the arm, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, in and around hair, between the legs, around the waist.

If you are bitten by a tick
Remove an attached tick as soon as you notice it. Using fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, and then slowly, but firmly, pull it straight out. Immediately wash the bite area and your hands with soap and water, then apply an antiseptic to the bite wound.
Watch for signs of illness.


Take the Trail Trekker Challenge

Do you think you can hike all of the trails in one year? Want to explore the landscape of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, exercise, and have fun all at the same time? Join the Trail Trekker Challenge! Earn a prize and bragging rights by successfully completing each of the 13 mainland trails in the National Lakeshore. Hiking is a great way to get daily physical exercise and promote health while also discovering the beauty of the area. What better way to get your muscles warm, your heart pumping, and your senses savoring the views!

Pick up a copy of the Trail Trekker Challenge brochure/logbook at the visitor center in Empire.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Last updated: February 7, 2024