Route: Sleeping Bear Dune Climb (MI)

Michigan, US
3.49 mi
Vertical Gain
4,137 ft

Located in Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, this is arguably the premier sand dune climb in North America! The FKT Route is 10 laps up/down (or down/up).  The vert on this compares favorably with other iconic hillclimbs, even in the mountainous west, yet this route offers a swim in a huge blue lake at the bottom and the joy of running downhill in soft white sand.  This is a popular and contested Strava segment, and really worth doing, regardless of your time.

Getting there: the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is the standard approach, which is a scenic and convoluted paved road up the backside to within 100m of the top of the dune. There is an NPS Entrance Fee. A nicer approach is to run north along the beach from the North Bar Lake TH.  This dune can be done anytime.

Start/Finish:  Touch the water at the bottom each loop, and go around the big "Warning" sign at the top each loop.

Footwear:  It certainly is fun to do barefoot, but one may hit an occasional stone. Running shoes are fine though they will fill with sand. Cheap beach slip-ons work the best.

Vert Comparisons:

  • Sleeping Bear Dune Climb (10 laps) - 4,137’ in 1.75mi (half the total up/down distance) = 24.2 degrees, 44.9% grade
  • Mount Washington Road race - 4,650' in 7.6mi = 6.61d, 11.6% grade
  • Broken Arrow VK - 3,135' in 4.25mi = 7.95d, 14% grade
  • The Rut Vertical Kilometer - 3,632' in 2.85mi = 13.57d, 24.1% grade
  • Mont Blanc VK - 3,333' in 2.35mi = 14.74d, 26.3% grade
  • Manitou Incline - 2,020' in .9mi = 23.03d, 42.5% grade
  • Mt. Marathon - 2,675' in 1.1mi = 26.3d, 49.4% grade
GPS Track