Ludington is the perfect place to unplug and instantly connect with nature – and a perfect way to do that is on a trail. There’s something for everyone, depending on your desired views and appetite for adventure.
Trails by Water
These trails provide up-close water views (so do others down the list as well!).
Lost Lake Trail – This flat, one-mile one-way trail from Hamlin Lake Beach of Ludington State Park* passes a watery cove, with a scenic boardwalk over the lake. It’s also a good fit in our “short trails” category. You can return the way you came, or see below for a scenic loop.
Lost Lake-Island Trail Loop – If you enjoy Lost Lake Trail and want to continue, pick up the Island Trail for a clockwise, two-mile loop that circles Lost Lake. Or add an extra one-mile out-and-back tail of the Island Trail beside Hamlin Lake and its secluded coves for a longer hike. Enjoy lunch at the historic trail shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Waterfront Walkway – This series of walking routes (4.58-mile Waterfront Loop, 1.5-mile Downtown Loop, and 1.42-mile Beach Loop) follows Ludington’s waterfront via roads and sidewalks and can be done individually or combined. (A popular combo is the 2.75-mile Beach and Downtown Loops.) Sites include Waterfront Park, Pere Marquette Lake, U.S. Coast Guard Station, Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, and Stearns Park Beach, among others.
If you prefer using wheels or oars, try one of these adventurous trails:
Ludington School Forest Trails – Grab your mountain bike and hit the dirt on this five-mile urban biking and hiking trail system in a forest conveniently located in the city limits.
Cartier Park Mountain Bike Trail – This more challenging 3.5-mile trail offers technical features like a rock garden, bridges, elevation and off-camber sections to test your handling ability and endurance.
Canoe Trail – Ply your kayak or canoe on this unique, four-mile water trail in Hamlin Lake in Ludington State Park as it winds along the shoreline, passes through small ponds and features three portages across marshy areas. Waterfowl sightings abound.
Trails with Views
These trails have stunning vistas – though you may have to work for them.
Skyline Trail – While short on mileage, it makes up for it in elevation as you climb a tall staircase and follow a half-mile wooden boardwalk along a dune ridge in Ludington State Park, providing breathtaking views where you can see as far as 20 miles to Silver Lake Sand Dunes on a clear day. You can even run down a sand dune.
Ridge Trail-Island Trail Loop – This four-mile roundtrip hike in Ludington State Park also is probably the hardest as it climbs a forested back dune ridge along the Ridge Trail side. Once at the top, enjoy stunning vistas of Lake Michigan before returning clockwise via the Island Trail.
Lighthouse Road – Follow this flat, two-mile gravel road to the iconic black-and-white Big Sable Point Lighthouse standing sentinel in Ludington State Park since 1867. Bonus hike: Climb 130 stairs of the 112-foot tower for 360-degree views from the watchtower deck. The lighthouse is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily between May and October.(Admission fee to climb the tower.)
Short Trails with High Impact
If you don’t have the time (or energy) for a long foray, try a short yet high-yield trail:
Ludington North Breakwater Light – Enjoy this easy, half-mile walk from Stearns Beach along the breakwall to the 1924 lighthouse offering stunning views of the harbor, lighthouse, sunsets, and – if you can time it right – the S.S. Badger rounding the point. The lighthouse is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily between May and October. (Admission fee to climb the tower.)
Cartier Park Pathway– This paved, ADA-accessible one-mile loop is a popular in-town trail in a?68-acre natural area. It’s also a great cycling destination for families with young children and first-time riders.
Ludington State Park Bike Path – This paved, ADA-accessible two-mile pathway through Ludington State Park parallels the road yet gives walkers and bikers a nice woodsy route. Connect to the Sable River Trail for a loop.
*NOTE: A Michigan Recreation Passport is required to enter Ludington State Park.