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Ludington State Park Michigan: Complete Guide to Beach, Hiking Trails, Camping and More

big sable point lighthouse at ludington state park

Ludington State Park 2023 Ultimate Guide

If you’re looking for the perfect place to experience the beauty and magnificence of Lake Michigan, Ludington State Park is the place to go!

Situated in Mason County, between the picturesque Lake Michigan and the 5000-acre Hamlin Lake, it’s no wonder Ludington State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Michigan. The beautiful scenery, endless miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and the countless ways to experience the park will make your trip unforgettable, and you’ll be coming back every year!

Find the perfect hiking trail, canoe trail or relax at the park campground; there are endless opportunities for outdoor fun here.

Ludington State Park is a wonderful place for a weekend getaway, a day trip, or even a week- long stay! However long you plan to stay, make sure you check out all of the highlights, places to eat, stay, and do that we have compiled into an Ultimate Guide to help you plan your next trip to one of the greatest state parks in Michigan!

Read on to learn everything you possibly need to know about for your next visit to Ludington State Park and start planning your outdoor adventure now.

aerial view of ludington state park

Things to Know Before Entering Ludington State Park

How to Enter Ludington State Park

A Michigan State Park Recreation passport is required to enter the park. The Michigan Recreation Passport purchased at the park entrance for $20, or Michigan residents have the option to buy the $13 annual Recreation Passport when they renew their Michigan license plate at the Secretary of State office. This pass not only allows access to Ludington State Park, but to all of the state parks in Michigan!

Where to Park at Ludington State Park

Once you enter the park, you can park in any of the various parking lots. There is a parking lot by the beach entrance that also has an accessible walkway right to the water. Each of the four campgrounds has a nearby parking lot. There is no need to pay for parking since you already paid to enter the state park. Especially in the summer, the parking lots fill up fast, so make sure to plan ahead and leave early if you can!

Accessibility at Ludington State Park

Ludington State Park is one of top parks for ADA accessibility in the state. Accessible walkways provide access to the beach from the parking lot to the water. There are also handicap accessible campgrounds, fishing piers, trails, and picnic areas. The state park has been very conscious in their design decisions to ensure that everyone has a chance to enjoy the wonderful Ludington State Park. Two track wheelchairs are also available for use; the disability resources were donated by the Friends of Ludington State Park,

PRO-TIP: Click here for a Ludington State Park Trails Map from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources; the Michigan DNR maintains the trails at the park.

Beach at ludington state park

Best Things to Do at Ludington State Park

Ludington State Park Hiking Trails

With eight marked park trails covering over 18 miles of this beautiful park, hiking is a great way to
explore the scenic Ludington State Park and experience all it has to offer.

Each trail offers a different way to experience the park, and the trails vary in distance and difficulty so people with different skill levels and interests can hike in Ludington State Park.

The Lighthouse Trail is one of the more popular trails because of its beautiful scenery and you get to hike through the wooded dunes and end up by the famous Big Sable Point Lighthouse. This trail is 3 miles long and takes about 2 hours to complete, depending on your preferred pace.

Another favorite is the Sable River Trail. In recent years, the trail has been improved to accommodate people in wheelchairs who would like to access the Hamlin Dam and Big Sable River. This trail is only 1 mile long and takes about 30 minutes to walk. This is a great trail to enjoy a leisurely walk out in nature.

Other trails include the Coast Guard Trail, Logging Trail, Ridge Trail and Island Trail, Lost Lake and Island trail Loop, Skyline Trail, and the South End Ski Trails. While hiking these trails, you will witness some of the most beautiful views you have ever seen, and you will get to hike on some of the nation’s best sand dunes!

Whichever trail you choose, it is guaranteed that you will have an amazing time, and you’ll always want to be coming back!

PRO-TIP: In the winter you can cross country ski on the trail system through the park. Cross country skiing is also a great way to take in the beauty of a Ludington beach in winter.

beach at ludington state park

Top Water Activities at Ludington State Park

The unique canoe pathway is a fun and different way to experience the nature of Ludington State Park. The marked pathway takes about 3 hours to complete, which is the perfect way to spend a beautiful summer morning.

You can rent canoes from the Hamlin Lake Concession Stand, as well as kayaks, paddle boats, rowboats, and more. They offer plenty of options for you to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Hamlin Lake. The boat launch is located at Hamlin Lake Beach, which is on the eastern shore of the lake.

The Ludington State Parks Beach

You can have a great beach day in numerous spots in the park. The Hamlin Lake Beach inside the state park offers a quiet and peaceful environment. The calm, shallow waters and clean beach makes this a great spot for families to enjoy a fun day at the beach. There is also a playground, picnic area, restrooms, and concessions in the area.

The shore of Lake Michigan stretches for seven miles in Ludington State Park. Play in the waves, lay out on the beach and read a book, and listen to the calming sounds of the waves lapping on the shore.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse

The iconic black and white striped, 112 foot tall, Big Sable Point Lighthouse is right here in Ludington State Park!

Visitors can tour the famous lighthouse from 10am to 5pm from May 1 to October 31. You can climb to the top of the Big Sable lighthouse to take in vistas of the sand dunes and Lake Michigan, or visit the gift shop, which is located in the original Keepers Quarters.

Plan a visit to this historic lighthouse and marvel at the beauty of Lake Michigan from the top!

The Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association is currently fundraising to repair the lighthouse, consider making a donation to help restore one of the most scenic sites on the West Michigan coast.

Fishing at Ludington State Park

Ludington State Park is a fisher’s paradise! Hamlin Lake is full of walleye, bass, northern pike, perch, and bluegill. People also love to fish in Lake Michigan and the Big Sable River to try their luck at catching a big one!

A boat launch provides easy access to the lake for boats up to 22 feet, and there is convenient parking for trailers. In the fall, people flock to the Hamlin Lake Dam to witness the salmon run. The salmon look like they’re flying when they try to jump over the dam on their way upstream. It’s a cool phenomenon you won’t want to miss!

Performances at Ludington State Park

Enjoy a performance at the Amphitheater on select nights at 7pm. The Amphitheater usually features folk music performances, but sometimes animals and magic shows make an appearance!

Things to Do at Ludington State Park in Winter

Ludington State Park is typically a summer destination, but the park can be enjoyed all year long. Snowshoeing is a very popular activity in the winter, and even if you don’t have your own snowshoes, you can borrow one of the 40 pairs from the state park on a first come first serve basis.

People who have visited the park in the winter have enjoyed the peace and serenity, and they
get to experience a new perspective of the park.

map of river camping in michigan

Where to Stay at Ludington State Park

Lake Michigan Camping at Ludington State Park

One of the top Michigan camping sites, Ludington State Park has four campgrounds so you can fully immerse yourself in the gorgeous nature around you. The 355 sites, including 3 mini-cabins, are surrounded by natural woodlands, water, and dune, and there are a variety of modern and primitive sites to meet everyone’s camping preferences.

The four campgrounds are spread out around the park, each offering a different experience.
The Beechwood Campground is closest to the Hamlin Lake Beach. The 147 modern sites include electricity, showers, restrooms, a playground, and recycle center. There are also sites here that are handicap accessible. From the Beechwood Campground, you can access the Lost Lake Trail, the Coast Guard Trail, and a boardwalk.

The Jack Pine Campground is only one mile from the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. This campground is for hike-in only and has 10 remote tent sites. There is no electricity and the restrooms are rustic. The parking lot is one mile away from the campground, so you have to backpack with all of your supplies and hike a mile in to the campground.

The Pines Campground is near the shore of Lake Michigan. There are 98 modern sites with electricity, showers, restrooms, and handicap accessible sites. You can access the Logging Trail from here or the Lighthouse Trail, which will take you to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse.

The Cedar Campground, between the Beechwood and Pines campgrounds, features 110 modern campsites with electricity, showers, restrooms, a playground, and 8 sites for tents only with no electricity. From the Cedar Campground, you can access the Campground Host and the Park Store.

The Cedar Campground is also the only campground at Ludington State Park that is open all year long. The spots usually fill up fast, so be sure to reserve your site as soon as you can! Most people reserve their sites by the beginning of spring for the following summer. You can make your campground reservations at

If there are no campsites available by the time you go to reserve one, don’t worry! There are plenty of other campgrounds in the surrounding Ludington area, including the Cartier Park Campground and the Lakeview Campsite.

20 Top Hotels with Outdoor Pools in Michigan

Hotels Near Ludington State Park

If you decide not to camp, there are so many nearby hotels to choose from. Below are a few of the best hotels to stay in near Ludington State Park:

Best Western Lakewinds
5005 US-10, Ludington, MI 49431

One of the highest rated hotels near Ludington State Park is the Best Western Lakewinds. Only
18 minutes away from the park, this is a great place to stay to visit the state park while also being able to enjoy the city of Ludington itself. Breakfast is included so you can fuel up before a long day of hiking at Ludington State Park!

Summer’s Inn Ludington
717 E Ludington Ave, Ludington, MI 49431

This charming inn is only 13 minutes away from Ludington State Park and it is guaranteed you will have a relaxing and peaceful stay at this inn. This adult-only establishment ensures that you will have a nice getaway and that you deserve. Breakfast is also included at the Summer’s Inn so you can start your morning off right!

Comfort Inn Ludington near US-10
5323 US-10, Ludington, MI 49431

This family-friendly hotel is the perfect place to enjoy a mini family vacation. They have newly renovated Kids Suites that the kids are sure to love. Everyone will be having fun at their heated indoor pool at the Comfort Inn. Breakfast is also included and it’s only 13 minutes away from Ludington State Park.

Ludington House Bed and Breakfast
501 E Ludington Ave, Ludington, MI 49431

This historic little bed and breakfast is an 1878 Queen Ann Victorian home. Guests can book
one of the 8 guest rooms and enjoy a peaceful and relaxing stay at this delightfully sweet bed

and breakfast. They offer a delicious two-course breakfast with french-pressed coffee or tea, and homemade cookies are always available! It is only 12 minutes from Ludington State Park and is four blocks from the center of town!

The Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast
602 E Ludington Ave, Ludington, MI 49431

The Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast is the highest rated bed and breakfast in Ludington, and it’s not hard to see why. Situated only 12 minutes from Ludington State Park and in the heart of the charming town, it is the perfect place to enjoy both nature and the town of Ludington. The historic, 1890s Victorian house is the place to get some rest and relaxation and enjoy a fun little getaway.

the cartier mansion in Ludington Michigan

Cartier Mansion Bed and Breakfast
409 E Ludington Ave, Ludington, MI 49431

This gorgeous bed and breakfast is a wonderful place to stay to experience all Ludington has to offer! This is yet another historic building located in the heart of town and is only 12 minutes away from Ludington State Park. You are sure to appreciate the 1905, neoclassical architecture and exquisite woodwork when you stay at the Cartier Mansion for a weekend getaway.

Holiday Inn Express and Suites Ludington
4079 US-10, Ludington, MI 49431

Located 16 minutes from Ludington State Park and just down the road from town, the Holiday Inn Express and Suites is a great place to stay for your trip to Ludington. Enjoy a dip in their indoor hot tub after a long day of exploring the state park. Holiday Inn is perfect for families with lots of kid-friendly amenities. Enjoy their included breakfast before you embark on your beach day!

most unique restaurants in michigan

Where to Eat at Ludington State Park

Dune Grass Concessions/Stores

Lake Michigan Beach House

On the shore of Lake Michigan, the parks Beach House provides a spot in the park to grab a bite to eat, pick up some beach toys and souvenirs, and if you forgot your sunscreen, don’t worry!

There is no better way to start your morning than sipping a warm cup of coffee while you overlook the lake from the Beach House. From 11am to 9pm, you can enjoy pizza, hamburgers, chicken strips, hot dogs, subs, snacks, beverages, and hand-dipped ice cream.

Cedar Camp Store

The Cedar Camp Store is conveniently located at the entrance of the Cedar Campground to provide for all of your camping needs. Here you can find wood, ice, groceries, toys, apparel, and souvenirs. There is also a variety of bait, bug spray, sunscreen, hats, candy, and more.

You can also rent bikes by the hour or day at the Cedar Camp Store. The Cedar Camp Store is open 9am to 9pm daily from May to October.
Hamlin Lake Concessions

Located near the Hamlin Lake boat launch, Hamlin Lake Concessions is another great spot to grab a bite to eat, as well as rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, pedal boats, and row boats. The food offered is the same as the Lake Michigan Beach House, but since the establishments are on opposite sides of the park, it makes it very convenient for visitors to grab a snack wherever they are in the park.

Restaurants Near Ludington State Park

Jamesport Brewing Company
410 S James St, Ludington, MI 49431

With its great food and atmosphere, it’s no surprise that the Jamesport Brewing Company is one of the most popular restaurants in Ludington. The burgers are to die for, and their food is just what you need after a long day of hiking!

Chuck Wagon Pizza
971 N Lakeshore Dr, Ludington, MI 49431

If you are craving pizza after your day at the beach, Chuck Wagon Pizza is the place to go! Here you will eat some of the best pizza you will ever taste. You will be having dreams about the ooey-gooey and melty cheese!

House of Flavors
402 W Ludington Ave, Ludington, MI 49431

House of Flavors is one of the most iconic restaurants in Ludington. This is the place to go when you are visiting Ludington or even just passing through. People can’t seem to stop coming back! It has also been said that the ice cream at House of Flavors is the best in West Michigan, so come out and see for yourself!

Chef John’s Bakery and Cafe
110 W Filer St, Ludington, MI 49431

This hidden gem is one that you will never forget. The quaint and charming bakery serves breakfast, lunch, and brunch, as well as lots of mouth-watering bakery treats. After your meal here, you will be recommending this cafe to everyone you know!

After your long day of hiking, beaching, canoeing, and exploring all that Ludington State Park has to offer, get all cozy on the beach, perhaps with a delicious ice cream cone, and watch the sunset. Ludington is famous for its sunsets; they have some of the best sunsets you will ever see.

The gorgeous oranges, yellows, pinks, and purples paint the sky while the waves gently kiss the shore, and it is the perfect ending to a perfect day at Ludington State Park.

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About the Author-
Michaela Triemstra is a Content Writer for She is currently a fourth-year college student studying English and Writing at Grand Valley State University. She loves to spend her days exploring different parts of Michigan, and having grown up in West Michigan, Michaela loves to go to Lake Michigan and enjoy a beach day with a good book!