They don’t call Ludington State Park the Queen of Michigan’s state parks for nothing. The 5,300-acre dune, forest and water wonderland, located just north of the city of Ludington, reigns supreme in the state park system for its miles of pristine dunes, access to water—Lake Michigan, Hamlin Lake and the Sable River—two beaches, a lighthouse, year-round camping, an interpretive center and 18 miles of trails. Read on for all the information you need to know for a Ludington State Park vacation.

Directions: From Ludington, take Lakeshore Drive north until it becomes M-116; follow to the park entrance at the end.

Park Pass:  You’ll need an $11 (per car) Michigan State Park Recreation Passport to enter Ludington State Park. You can either purchase it at Ludington State Park, or Michigan residents can purchase the passport when they renew their Michigan license plates. Just check the box on your license renewal form.

Take a video tour of Ludington State Park.

Visit the Big Sable Point Lighthouse

A two-mile sandy stroll through jack pines leads to this 100-foot-tall classic black and white lighthouse built in 1867 and operated today by the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers—an association that manages three historic lighthouses within a thirty mile stretch of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Visitors are welcome to explore the grounds, tour the original Keeper’s Quarters which have been converted into a Gift Shop, stroll along the sand dunes or climb the tower.

Hike & Cross Country Ski Over Dunes

  • Coast Guard Trail: This 1.5-mile trail meanders from the Lake Michigan beach through the park’s three campgrounds. Along the way, you’ll pass the site of what once an early life-saving station.
  • Lighthouse Trail: This 3-mile trail winds from the Beechwood Campground to the 1867-built Big Sable Point Lighthouse—a black-and-white classic maritime building perched amid Lake Michigan’s dune-swept shore. The lighthouse is open for daily tours between May and October.
  • Logging Trail: This dune and woods looped trail begins and ends at the Pines Campground and winds past two trail shelters built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp Camp. In the winter, this trail is a popular groomed cross country ski trail.
  • Ridge and Island Trails: The Ridge Trail begins near the Ludington State Park office and leads along a tall wooded dune that treats hikers to inspiring lake vistas. The Island Trail begins at the Hamlin Lake boat rental and follows the Hamlin Lake shoreline past a lovely picnic shelter that overlooks the lake and adjacent dunes.  About 2 miles out, the trails link up to form a loop for a combined total of about 4 miles.
  • Sable River Trail: A 1.5-mile long paved pathway that is wheelchair accessible leads along the Hamlin Dam and Big Sable River.
  • Lost Lake Trail: A charming 1.5-mile trail that meanders around small islands in a cove of Hamlin Lake.
  • Skyline Trail: This half-mile boardwalk along a dune ridge is packed with lake vistas. On clear days you can see 20 miles to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. 
  • South End Ski Trails: Six miles, three loops. Sheltered by pines in the winter–a strenuous hike for the hearty in the summer.

Paddle Hamlin Lake

The Ludington State Park Canoe Trail: The water trail begins at the Hamlin Canoe and Concession and meanders 4 miles along the Hamlin Lake past marshy areas and a variety of wildlife. Great for novice paddlers.

Beach It

Seven stunning miles of sugar sand Lake Michigan beach await you, your towel and sunscreen. A portion of the beach is outside the Ludington State Park gate, so no permit is needed. Families love heading over to the beach at Hamlin Lake with its warm, shallow waters. Concession stands and restroom facilities are available in the park.


Choose from three modern campgrounds and one rustic. For reservations go to

  • Beechwood: 147 sites ($29/$27); ($16 off season) Mini cabin $45 ($35)
  • Cedars: 106 sites, $27 $16 off season) Mini cabin $45 ($35)
  • Pines: 99 sites, $27 ($16 off season) Mini cabin $45 ($35)
  • Jack Pine Hike-In 10 rustic sites $16 ($12 off season)

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More in Ludington

Cornerstone: Ludington State Park

Photo(s) by Kris Riley