Ludington State Park is one of the most popular places to camp in Michigan. Located between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lakes, the nearest town is Ludington.
This state park boasts over 5,300 acres and has 360 campsites. Plus, there are plenty of activities to keep your family busy for your entire camping trip.
Read on to learn more about Ludington State Park camping!
History of Ludington State Park
Ludington State Park began in the town of Hamlin in 1852. Originally a logging community located on the banks of the Big Sable River, a dam was built alongside the Hamlin sawmill.
The area had an active community throughout the late 19th century. However, the dams broke on two separate occasions, and the community eventually faded away.
With such beautiful land already cultivated, the state of Michigan chose not to let it go to waste.
In 1933 the Civilian Conservation Corps established a crew of 300 men to build Ludington State Park. They built everything that would become part of the park, including trails, campsites, buildings, and roads.
In addition to the park, they also planted trees, dunes, and erosion control structures due to the damage left by the logging community in the decades prior.
Ludington State Park was officially dedicated and open to the public in 1936.
What to Expect When Camping at Ludington State Park
There is plenty to do while camping at Ludington State Park. With dunes, beaches, hiking, camping, fishing, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, outdoor recreation, and even a canoe trail, the whole family will have a great time!
The state park has 7 miles of beach along Lake Michigan and five miles of beach that borders Hamlin Lake. The beaches are perfect for sunbathing, playing sports, or just spending time together as a family. Specific areas of the beaches are wheelchair accessible.
While you’re there, visit the Lake Michigan Beach House. Built in 1935, it has concessions, changing facilities, and interactive displays.
Hamlin Lake is located further inland, so overall it’s shallower and warmer than Lake Michigan. The beach is smaller, but there’s a playground, watercraft rentals, a pavilion, and picnic tables for spending the entire day enjoying the sun!
Another place of interest is the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Constructed in 1867, it stands at 112 feet tall. It’s listed on both the state and national historic registers. The top of the tower has a panoramic view of the park and includes a gift shop and a museum.
In the winter, enjoy ten miles of cross-country ski trails. There is also a two-mile bicycle trail available for use throughout the year.
Performances at the amphitheater occur at designated times of the year.
Ludington State Park Camping
Fair warning: Camping at Ludington State Park is one of the most popular places in the state! You should book your camping reservations at least six months in advance.
All three of the modernized campgrounds feature restrooms and electricity. Note that there is no privacy between the campsites.
This campground has 147 sites and is located the closest to Hamlin Lake. It has access to the Lost Lake Trail and the Coast Guard Trail. There is also a boardwalk located on the eastern side of the campground.
Located between the Beechwood and Pines campgrounds, this location has 106 electric campsites and eight non-electric campsites. The Campground Host and Park Store are both located near the entrance. This is the only campground that is open all year long.
This campground connects to the Logging Trail and Lighthouse Trail. The latter hiking trail leads to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. It has a total of 99 campsites. It is the closest campground to the rustic campground located to the north.
Jack Pine Campground
This campground is considered rustic and is accessed as a walk-in-only campground. It has ten campsites with access to a vault toilet and hand pump. It is located one mile from the parking area, so everything needed for your camping trip must be carried in. This campground sits north of the Pines Campground and is one mile from the Big Sable Lighthouse.
Are you looking to camp at Ludington State Park but don’t want to sleep in a tent?
There are three mini-cabins available to rent, one cabin located at each of the electric campsites. Each cabin has one double bed and three single beds. They all have a microwave, refrigerator, and an electric wall heater.
Outside the cabin are a firepit, picnic table, and cooking grill. All cabins have electricity.
Additional Things to Do at Ludington State Park
You won’t want to only camp at Ludington State Park! There are plenty of other activities and fun to be had.
There are eight separately marked trails that total 20 miles of hiking. They lead through dunes, woods, and even wetlands. Bring a good pair of sneakers and enjoy a 30-minute walk or a three-hour hike!
Hamlin Lake and Big Sable River are popular places to go fishing. Catch walleye, bass, northern pike, perch, bluegill, trout, or steelhead. And don’t miss out on the fall Salmon run, where the fish attempt to jump over the dam on their way upstream!
Besides swimming at the beach, there are plenty of options for water activities while at Ludington State Park.
Hamlin Lake is the official boat launch area for motorized boats. There are also several access points along Hamlin Lake and Big Sable River for kayaking or canoeing. And there’s a one-of-a-kind canoe trail totaling four miles located along Hamlin Lake.
One of the most popular activities is going kayaking or tubing along the one mile of Big Sable River that connects to the lakes!
Plants & Wildlife
The wildlife is abundant at Ludington State Park! During your stay, you’ll see deer, river otters, muskrats, chipmunks, and raccoons. Bird watchers will enjoy seeing the local waterfowl species and other birds — keep your eye out for sightings of rare ones like the trumpeter swan, Eurasian wigeon, and boulder wren!
Also, be aware that bears occasionally make their way into the park, so take safety precautions with food storage so you don’t inadvertently attract a hungry one to your campsite.
Plan Your Ludington State Park Camping Trip!
That wraps up everything you need to know about Ludington State Park camping! This park is sizable, with lots to do! Plan to spend a full week there to experience all the activities with your family.
Looking for more state parks for your camping adventures? Check out our State Park Camping guides to help you decide where to go on your next trip!
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Laura L. Zimmerman is an author of both indie and traditionally published books. She lives in a tiny rural town in south-central Pennsylvania with her husband, daughters, four adorable kitties, and one energetic puppy!
After earning a BMUS with a Certification in Music Therapy, she decided to homeschool her children. Here she discovered a passion for learning and teaching, which led her to make writing a priority. She currently enjoys reading and writing YA sci-fi and fantasy, as well as middle-grade mysteries.
Her hobbies include spending time with her family, hiking, playing outdoors with her dog, and doing yoga. You can find her drinking coffee, singing loudly, or consuming another Jane Austen novel.
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