Ludington State Park in Michigan is located in the harbor town Ludington, and bordered by one of my favorite great lakes, Lake Michigan! This adorable town sits on the west side of the state (Michiganders: right by the pinky knuckle) – and is just a 4-hour drive from Detroit or Chicago, which is great for weekend trips. The town draws visitors year-round (despite the bitter winter Michigan is infamous for) with a ton of recreation activities and adventures.
Ludington is easily one of my favorite summer camping spots. The Ludington State Park is the most popular park in the state, so if you plan on camping there, make your reservations early! You’ll need a recreation passport or day pass to enter (both can be purchased at the park entrance). Go pack your bags, and take a road trip to Ludington!
Here are 5 reasons I absolutely LOVE Ludington State Park
hiking trails in Ludington state park
Ludington has trails EVERYWHERE. Hiking trails? Check. Biking trails? Check. Water trails? Double check. There are 8 trails that cover around 18 miles of the state park.
The landscape of the trails varies- I found myself in giant sand dunes at the head of a trail that eventually led into the thick of the forest- finally popping me out on a paved walking path. Pack a backpack and get lost on the trails for a couple of hours, I promise they won’t disappoint.
hiking through the sand dunes can be disorienting, make sure you stay on the trail at all times and follow the trail markers
Sunsets along lake Michigan
Do you know the best part about sunsets? THEY’RE FREE. And no matter how many times you see them, no two are the same. What makes Ludington’s sunsets so amazing? The sun setting over Great Lake Michigan.
Lighthouses in Ludington State Park
With 3,200 miles of shoreline, the state of Michigan has more lighthouses than any other US state (Alaska holds the title). Ludington has not one, but TWOOO lighthouses that are both active.
An easy 3.6-mile round trip hike brings you to Michigan’s tallest and most iconic lighthouse-Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Not up for the hike? Take a walk down the break wall leading out to the North Breakwater Light instead.
Sand Dunes for miles
I hope everyone likes sand! Ludington State Park is covered in sand dunes. You’ll hit the sand before you’re even in the park. I like to pull off M-116 before getting into the park. There are spots all along the road where you can walk down the dunes to Lake Michigan (and essentially your own private beach). If you decide to make the trek to the Big Sable Point lighthouse- you’ll experience the dunes AND a lighthouse!
This is Michigan, so I understand the word “water” is pretty ambiguous. First there’s Lake Michigan- whose turquoise blue waters make you feel like you’re on a tropical island except for way colder- even in July/August the water temperature will only reach highs of 60-65 F. If you’re looking for something a little warmer- head 4 miles north of Ludington over to Hamlin Lake. This inland lake is 12 miles long! So you can hang out at the beach, go boating, or picnic without feeling crowded.
Go burn your picnic calories off and get some exercise! There’s a Canoe Trail that starts at Hamlin beach where you can bring kayaks to. The trail is around 4 miles, and you can canoe or kayak through marshland to check out the wildlife or towards Lost Lake where you can explore some small islands. For those who just want to spend their time relaxing and not paddling- there’s tubing down the Sable River (Expert Level: bring a floating cooler full of adult beverages).