Secret Sleeping Bear: Hike Alligator Hill

Forget your watch. If you want a way to make your exercise routine last for more than 20 minutes, Alligator Hill—without a timepiece—is the way to go. Sticking to the groomed paths is a good way to lose yourself in the woods without actually getting lost. 

Alligator Hill is one of the hidden highlights of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore—a scenic destination you have to hike to enjoy. A simple stroll there offers a cardiovascular challenge right off the bat—you meet the first of many steep stretches within the first five minutes or so. The National Park Service broke down Alligator’s 9 miles into three distinct loops, giving you the option to bail at several points. Still, it’s easy to extend a 4-mile hike into a 6-miler when there’s so much to observe along the way. 

You’ll hit your first reward after 1.3 miles—a lookout with an impressive view of Lake Michigan, including the Sleeping Bear coastline and the Manitou islands. The second comes less than a mile later, a restful overlook of Big Glen Lake and the forest behind it. The hills are huffers and puffers, but luckily the sun isn’t intense through the canopy of beech-maple. we guarantee you’ll feel tired yet inspired. 

Click for trailhead information + tasty trail mix recipes!