On the west side of Michigan, the City of Ludington rests along Lake Michigan and is home to one of the most beautiful Michigan state parks. Ludington State Park offers enough recreational activities to keep you busy for days. It’s sandwiched between Lake Michigan and the 5,000-acre Hamlin Lake, featuring miles of shoreline. Even the Big Sable River flows through the park for about 1 mile.
Let’s take an in-depth look at everything that you can do at Ludington State Park this summer!
Activities at Ludington State Park
The park features more than 21 miles of marked trails that pass through forests, wetlands, marshlands, and scenic sand dunes. The trails — all of which are open for walking — have a range of terrains and gorgeous views. In fact, the ½-mile Skyline Trail has an elevated boardwalk with an observation platform where you can look out at the sand dunes.
If you want to go biking at Ludington State Park, you can hop on the 1.5-mile Sable River Trail. The paved path follows the Big Sable River and connects to the park campgrounds, day-use areas on the lakes, and amphitheater. Although made of sand and gravel, cycling is allowed on the 1.8-mile Lighthouse Path that leads to Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The closest bike rental is at Dune Grass Concessions near the entrance of Cedar Campground.
Because of the park’s position, it has a 4-mile beach along Hamlin Lake and a 7-mile beach along Lake Michigan. Designated swim areas with accessible beaches and walkways are located at both, alongside Dune Grass Concessions where you can get beach equipment, purchase snacks, and use the restrooms. At the historic Lake Michigan beach house, you can view interpretive exhibits.
Paddlesports, tubing, and fishing are also very popular at Ludington State Park. Hamlin Lake has a boat launch with parking for boat trailers and vehicles. The nearby Dune Grass Concessions has canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals too. To access parts of the park that aren’t easy to reach on foot, you can paddle down the challenging 4-mile Canoe Trail on Hamlin Lake if you’re adventurous.
As for fishing, there is a multitude of opportunities to fish for bass, panfish, perch, pike, and more in Hamlin Lake. A small fishing pier is situated on the lake a short distance from the Hamlin Dam, a functioning dam with nearby parking. You can even fish along Lake Michigan and the Big Sable River.
Other Ludington State Park Features
In the day-use area at Hamlin Lake, there’s an accessible playground with climbers, slides, and other interactive components. It has a rubberized surface for children in wheelchairs. Another playground is located next to Cedar Campground.
If you want to take your dog to Ludington State Park, there’s a pet-friendly beach between the Lake Michigan beach house and Big Sable River. You must keep your dog on a leash that’s no longer than 6 feet and pick up after it.
You can have a picnic at the Hamlin Lake day-use area or across from the Cedar Campground along the river. The picnic areas have charcoal grills and tables. The day-use area has a picnic shelter that you can reserve as well.
Accessible via the Lighthouse Path, Big Sable Point Lighthouse is an iconic feature at Ludington State Park. It’s open for tours during the summer. The Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association charges a fee to climb the tower, and you can purchase souvenirs in the gift shop when you’re done. The association hosts several afternoon concerts throughout the summer too.
Camping at Ludington State Park
You can make reservations at one of the three campgrounds at the park. Beechwood Campground is a modern campground with shaded and spacious tent and RV sites. Located near Hamlin Lake, it’s split into three loops, each of which connects to a hiking trail. The 2-mile Island Lake Trail is one of the most popular.
Cedar Campground has open and sunny tent and RV sites divided among two loops. At the Pines Campground, you’ll see two loops with shaded, modest-sized sites for tents and RVs. The north side of the campground is where you’ll find the 4-mile Logging Trail, and the Lighthouse Path connects to the grounds as well.
Downtown Ludington Shops & Restaurants
If you decide to explore more of Ludington, head into the downtown area for unique shopping. You’ll find a variety of galleries, consignment shops, jewelry stores, and gift shops lining the streets.
Downtown Ludington is beautiful to just walk around, and it has several restaurants. You can get organic coffee any way you like it at Red Rooster Coffee & Community, which also has a selection of baked goods. The Q Smokehouse is known for its Southern-style barbecue and home cooking. Beloved for its ice cream and other frozen treats, House of Flavors is in the Guinness World Records for creating the longest ice cream dessert.