Ludington State Park Michigan: 10 Best Things to Do This Summer! Hint: See River Otters, Go Camping, Climb Sand Dunes, Kayak and Enjoy Beaches!
Ludington State Park: Best Things to do! Hiking, biking, kayaking, camping and beaches!
Ludington State Park Michigan | By Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan
My friends, this park is hands down, one of the best Michigan State Parks. The amenities, campground, things to do, cleanliness, safety, nature, hiking, beach and scenery are super diverse and top notch.
If you love hiking, you need to explore the diverse hiking trails in this Michigan State Park. You will follow rivers, pass over bridges, see kayakers, hike across islands, walk along boardwalks, see the Hamlin Dam, and traverse sand dunes. There are so many things to do at the Ludington State Park Mi!
"A national park is not a playground. It's a sanctuary for nature and for humans who will accept nature on nature's own terms."
Grab Some Ludington Swag for Your Trip!
This vintage Ludington sweatshirt is perfect for your vacation!
How much does it cost to get into Ludington State Park Mi?
- Vehicles: $12 when purchased with your license plate registration renewal through the Secretary of State.
- Vehicles: $17 when purchased at state parks, (cash or checks only) or at the Secretary of State outside your license plate registration renewal cycle.
- Motorcycles: $6 when purchased with your license plate registration renewal.
- Motorcycles: $11 ($6 passport fee, plus $5 convenience fee) when purchased at state parks (cash or checks only) or at the Secretary of State outside your license plate registration renewal cycle.
- Annual nonresident: $34
- Daily nonresident: $9
Ludington State Park Camping and Campgrounds
If you love camping, there are 3 campgrounds (Beachwood, Pines and Cedar) inside Ludington State Park.
Beechwood Campground is fantastic as it flanks Lost Lake. You will enjoy a long boardwalk that extends over Lost Lake near Beechwood Campground. The boardwalk and views are just fantastic.
The video above is the boardwalk that passes the Beechwood Campground. Lovely, isn't it?
There are tent only sites (non electric), hike in sites, 50 amp sites and 20/30 amp sites within the 3 campgrounds. Mini cabins are also available.
Jack Pine Campground are hike in sites and non electric.
Camping Rates (subject to change):
- 20/30 AMP Modern Campsite $33 per night
- 50 AMP Modern Campsite $37 per night
- Mini Cabin $52 per night
Campgrounds Near Ludington State Park
Are you looking to go camping near Ludington, Michigan and need a few great campground options?
Cartier Park Campground - 1254 N. Lakeshore Dr., Ludington, MI 49431 Water, electric and sewer hook ups.
Kibby Creek Campground - 4900 W. Deren Rd., Ludington, MI 49431, Great family camping between Ludington and Pentwater. Full hook-up or water & electric sites are perfect for RVs to tents.
Lakeview Campsite - 6181 Peterson Rd., Ludington, MI 49431. Located on Upper Hamlin Lake ten miles north of Ludington. 110 large sites with tables, firepits, bathhouses, electric and water hook-ups, dump station, swimming pool and more!
Recommended Hotels Near Ludington State Park
Not into camping? Don't worry, you can still hike, kayak, swim and explore but sleep at night in comfort and style! Here are a few hotels we recommend near this incredible Michigan State Park:
Comfort Inn Ludington - only 7.2 miles away! Close to Historic White Pine Village and Big Sable Point Lighthouse is a 5 minute drive.
- Heated indoor pool
- Hot tub
Cartier Mansion - only 6.2 miles away. This place is incredibly beautiful and historic, check it out! As a bonus, the Cartier Mansion offers an American or vegetarian breakfast.
Best Western Ludington - Rated 8.5 on Booking.com, this nice hotel is only a 10 minute drive to Lake Michigan's beach!
More recommended Ludington hotels are here!
Ludington State Park Map
Ludington State Park Address: 8800 W. M-116, Ludington MI, 49431
If you love hiking, you need to explore the diverse hiking trails in this Michigan State Park. You will follow rivers, pass over bridges, see kayakers, hike across islands, walk along boardwalks and up over sand dunes.
Ludington State Park Map
Ludington State Park Hiking Trail Descriptions and Distances
The trail miles listed below are for the complete loop, or round trip.
*If you only have time for one trail, we highly recommend the Lost Lake Trail (yellow) due to the diversity of scenery. You will see walk across islands, pass over bridges, discover sand dunes with scenic views and walk through cool woods.
Coast Guard Trail (Gray)
Distance: 1.5 miles long, 1 hour walking time -- This trail winds through the wooded dunes from the Lake Michigan beach to the Beechwood Campground so it's a perfect hiking if you are camping at this Ludington State Park. It crosses the Logging Trail and Ridge Trail.
Cool Features: Check out the historic site of the US life-saving service. You will see lovely marshes and wildlife along the way.
Lighthouse Trail (Brown)
3 miles long, 2 hours walking time -- This begins at the Beechwood Campground (head north on the Lost Lake Trail) and passes through lots of rolling sand dunes until you reach the Big Sable Point Lighthouse.
- The Big Sable Point Lighthouse is open daily May through October to tour and climb the tower. It's a very cool experience!
The Lighthouse Road (unpaved)
1.8 miles long, 40 minutes walking time - The Lighthouse road stretches from the main entrance parking lot to Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The trail made of hard packed sand and gravel.
Logging Trail (Green)
3 miles long, 2.5 hours walking time -- The Logging Trail is a shady trail (perfect for hot days!) that leads you through wooded sand dune valleys.
- This trail loops begins and ends at the north end of the Pines Campground.
You will see two trail shelters along the way that were constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp Camp. The Logging Trail is groomed during the winter so it's a perfect place to cross country ski.
Ridge Trail (Purple) and Island Trail (Blue)
4 miles, 3 hours walking time -- If this sounds like too much to walk, just do the Island Trail, it's fantastic!
- The Ridge Trail and Island Trail make an awesome hiking loop.
The Ridge Trail begins just east of the Park Office. The Island Trail begins at the Hamlin Lake boat rental area.
The Ridge Trail follows the top of a tall wooded sand dune that continues for several miles. You will be in awe of the views!
The Island Trail follows the beautiful sandy shoreline of Hamlin Lake. (It's our favorite trail!) Keep your eyes open for birds, ducks and otters! Be sure to pack snacks, water, sunscreen and wear hats!
Sable River Trail (Red)
1 mile, 30 minutes walking time -- The Sable River Trail is an accessible trail (perfect for wheelchairs) to see the Hamlin Dam and Big Sable River. Enjoy a peaceful walk along the dam, river boardwalks and scenic paved pathway.
There are several informative signs along the way to learn more about the historic sites and changes over the years. The Hamlin Dam is also a great place to fish for salmon during the fall salmon runs. You can hike the trail in the winter too as you can spot migratory waterfowl, bald eagles and river otters.
*Lost Lake Trail (Yellow)
1.5 miles, 1 hour walking time -- Our favorite trail!! The Lost Lake Trail follows a lovely watery cove off Hamlin Lake where you can see kayakers paddle by.
The trail begins and ends near the Hamlin Lake Beach House. This scenic trail shares part of the way with the Island Trail which crosses over lovely bridges to connect a series of small islands.
The north end of the trail passes through a wooded sand dune ridge overlooking scenic Lost Lake. Feel free to climb down to the water if you like! We love this trail due to the diversity of scenery - islands, bridges, sand dunes and woods.
As you continue along the trail, you will enjoy a long boardwalk that extends over Lost Lake near the Beechwood Campground. Gives you the amazing feeling of being on the water. Keep your eyes out for deer, muskrats, river otters, waterfowl, turtles and several species of birds in this scenic area area.
If you are not camping at the Beechwood Campground you can park at the Hamlin Lake day use area.
Skyline Trail Boardwalk (Pink)
.5 mile, 30 minutes walking time -- The short Skyline Trail follows a tall sand dune ridge, on the south side of the river between the footbridge and Hamlin Dam. The Skyline trail begins at the west end of the parking lot and exits onto the Sable River Trail.
This trail is elevated with an incredible wooden boardwalk. There are lots of viewpoints to see miles of sand dunes and sparkling Lake Michigan.
On a clear day, you can see 20 miles to the Silver Lake State Park Sand Dunes, a perfect place to either drive on the dunes or take a guided tour!
South End Ski Trails
6 miles, 3 hours walking time -- These cross country ski trails are actually three looped trails; Evergreen, Juniper and Dune trails. The trails start from the west stairway of the Skyline Trail.
It passes through the sand dune valleys of jack pines and wetlands. We love that you are protected from high winds and cold while skiing in the valleys. If you are hiking these in the summer, it can be very hot so be prepared.
Above is a great Ludington State Park Trail Map with distances. Very helpful for the South End Ski Trails.
Since You Will Be Hiking, Pack Smart!
Best Seller Men's Hiking Shoes-Budget Friendly
Check out these #1 Best Seller and Affordable Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoes! They have 5 stars on Amazon with 12,000 reviews.
- Stable and comfortable for long hikes!
Best Overall Men's Hiking Shoes
Salomon X Ultra 3 Low GTX Hiking Shoes - Men's
- Durable, lightweight, impressive grip on the trails. Also moisture wicking. Be in style and comfort while exploring Ludington State Park!
Best Seller Women's Hiking Shoes-Budget Friendly
Merrell Women's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot is perfect if you need some ankle support while walking over unsteady terrain. These Moab Hiking Boots have a removable insole so you can add inserts if you like. Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability.
- They come in several colors, so check them out!
Excellent Women's Hiking Shoes
Salomon X Ultra 3 Low GTX Hiking Shoes - Women's
Gore-Tex® waterproof bootie liners let your feet breathe while protecting them from the elements. I like that these women's hiking shoes hold your feet in place which prevents slippage for more stable descents. (Less blisters!)
- Plus, there are some wide sizes for extra toe room.
- Two color options
Ludington State Park Canoe Trail (Red Dashes)
Ludington State Park Mi Canoe and Kayak Trail: 2-4 hours, depending on your skill level -- (see about rentals below).
The Kayak or Canoe Pathway is about 4 miles long and begins and ends at the Hamlin Lake Watercraft Rental/Dune Grass Concessions area near the swimming beach.
Here is a PDF of the Canoe Trail. Provided by the DNR.
You will begin your scenic trip by paddling across the river and entering Hamlin Lake. Paddle close to the south shore and enjoy swamp regions and inland marshes filled with reeds and cattails. There are also several scenic marshlands that are popular hang out spots for duck, geese, herons and other aquatic animals.
Wear water shoes in case you need to portage your craft. It takes about 2.5 hours depending on how far you go and how fast you paddle.
There may also be guided canoe trips, so just ask!
This bridge is part of the Sauble River Trail. Isn't it a fantastic place to kayak, tube or canoe?
Can I Rent Kayaks or Watercraft at Ludington State Park?
Absolutely! The Hamlin Lake Watercraft Rental/Dune Grass Concessions area near the swimming beach rents lots of summer water craft! I would contact them prior to your trip to see if you need to reserve ahead of time.
Ludington State Park rents:
- Single and Tandem Kayaks
- Paddle Boats
- Row Boats
Bicycles of all sizes are available for rent at the Cedar Camp Store and are rented by the hour or day.
Incredible Ludington State Park MI Beach
The Ludington Mi beach is just fantastic at this Michigan State Park! Lots of sand, close parking, safe and the water is clear! Grab some creamy ice cream at the Lake Michigan Beach House!
Hike Over the Scenic Hamlin Dam
There is a very scenic boardwalk that begins at the Hamlin Dam parking lot. You can walk over the dam and continue along the boardwalk on the other side for quite a distance. Very scenic views of the Sable River in Ludington!
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