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Sleeping Bear Dunes: Cottonwood Trail

  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive & M-109
  • Empire, MI 49630
  • (231) 326-4700
  • E-Mail  |  Website
  • Seasonal Experience: spring summer fallk
Maps & Directions

This 1.7-mile loop winds through the perched dunes above the Dune Climb and provides a close look at the beauty of these shifting hills of open sand as well as the vegetation such as bearberry, buffaloberry, beachgrass and cottonwoods that are slowly stabilizing them. Cottonwood is an interpretive trail with nine posts that correspond to a self-guided brochure available at the trailhead or can be downloaded from The brochure describes the plant life and geology of the area and explains why the mounds of advancing sand in this ever-changing land are so special and so fragile.

Stop by the Traverse City Tourism Visitor Center for a printed map or download a map from Michigan Trails Maps for a small fee.