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.