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Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse

West Coast/Lake Michigan, Michigan

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Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse

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  • Paddlers often launch at the Ludington State Park Beach House.- Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • Lake Michigan offers endless paddling opportunities. - Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • The Ludington dunes make an impressive backdrop for a paddle.- Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • Paddlers approach the distant Big Sable Point Lighthouse.- Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • Sit-on-top kayaks are popular on the lake.- Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • The Big Sable Point Lighthouse is about 2 miles from the Beach House.- Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • Great views of the Ludington dunes are a highlight of the trip.- Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • A paddler enjoys a relatively calm day on Lake Michigan.- Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • The Big Sable Point Lighthouse.- Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
  • Waves crash near the lighthouse.- Lake Michigan Paddling: Ludington State Park Beach House to Big Sable Point Lighthouse
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Easy access. Adjustable length.
Cons: 
Very exposed to wind or bad weather.
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Region:
West Coast/Lake Michigan, MI
Access: 
Hike-in
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Distance: 
0.10 mi (0.16 km)
Site characteristics: Water: 
Lake
Motorized watercraft allowed: 
Yes
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Park entrance fee
Portage required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Put-in location (lat, long coordinates): 
44.033240, -86.508213
Shuttle required: 
No
Take-out location (lat, long coordinates): 
44.033240, -86.508213
Total Distance: 
3.90 mi (6.28 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Typically multi-day: 
No
Water difficulty: 
Moderate / Class B
Water temperature: 
70.00 °F (21.11 °C)
Current Local Weather:
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Paddle Description

Paddle Description

Contributor

Lake Michigan is the second largest Great Lake by volume and the third largest by surface area. While paddling opportunities are abundant, one of the most enjoyable in the Ludington area is the shoreline paddle from the Ludington State Park Beach House to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The trip is about 2 miles each way, and it passes several great views of the iconic Ludington State Park sand dunes.

The Beach House serves as the state park’s visitor center and has several informational displays about Lake Michigan and the plants and animals that call it home. There are also restrooms and concessions. The short walk across the beach is the only time boats must be carried, and launching into the waves can often be the most challenging part of the trip. A sprayskirt for closed deck kayaks or a sit-on-top is highly recommended, as even mild breezes can create large swells. The weather changes quickly, and a swim can be exhausting even while close to shore. The lake remains relatively shallow for a few hundred yards, keeping most motor boats well away from shore. This allows paddlers to enjoy the scenery without fear of being surprised by a large wake.

About a third of the way into the trip paddlers will begin to see the tip of the lighthouse. Be sure to appreciate the unique perspective of the sand dunes afforded by being out on the water. A small seawall extends into the lake near the base of the lighthouse. Depending on which direction the wind is coming from, one side or the other will likely provide a more sheltered place to land.

The 112-foot lighthouse continues to be used as an aid in transportation. Tours of the facility are also open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from early May to late October. The lighthouse was originally established in November of 1867 and was staffed until 1972. Today, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association maintains the historically registered lighthouse.

To return, paddlers will simply reverse their course.

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