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Outdoor Project | 10.09.2019

Ludington, Michigan, offers something special to the outdoor-minded visitor each and every season, but there is something serenely magical about visiting Ludington during fall. Located halfway up Michigan's Lower Peninsula, along the shores of scenic Lake Michigan, the quaint harbor town is surrounded by forests, beaches, dunes, and waterways composed of inland lakes and rivers, all of which take on a quieter and tranquil side after the peak summer tourism season winds down.

Fall is a time when the weather in Ludington is still typically pleasant, yet one can experience beaches and trails all to themselves. Come mid-October, the lakeshore's mixed deciduous forests burst with vibrant color, when hiking, biking, and paddle trails tantalize the senses with ephemeral autumn hues.

Below are five reasons we love Ludington, Michigan, during fall.


Ludington's trails are the perfect place to take in the autumn turn. Photo courtesy Visit Ludington.

1. Fall Foliage Along Lake Michigan's Shore

Ludington's very own Mason County is one of the top fall foliage destinations on the Lower Peninsular, where an abundance of state parks, hiking trails, and paddle trails afford access to a myriad of fall adventures. Typically by mid-October, the region's mixed deciduous and conifer forests show off their fall color and peak during the last 2 weeks of October. The abundant beech tree found in the region is particularly stunning. Consider exploring the trails of Ludington State Park and the biking trails of Ludington School Forest to experience the best of Ludinton's fall color. Or take to one of the area's water trails to for a leaf-peeping adventure from the water.

2. Autumn Adventures in Ludington State Park 

Multi-use trails, sandy beaches, a historic lighthouse, and paddling adventures all await you in Ludington State Park, a jewel along Lake Michigan's shoreline. In addition to the lakefront and Big Sable Point Lighthouse, the park has multiple campgrounds, sand dune ridges, an inland lake, and 18 miles of trails, many of which are bike friendly. Paddling options include the Ludington Canoe Trail to the Big Sable River paddle, and if lake waters are calm, an option to paddle to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. All of this is at your fingertips within one park, with a backdrop of fall foliage to boot!

3. Wildlife Viewing from the Ludington Canoe Trail

This 4-mile paddle trail meanders through the coves and small ponds along Hamlin Lake's southwestern shore. The paddle provides protection from the elements when it's less welcoming or windy on Lake Michigan. Bring your binoculars as the Ludington Canoe Trail is a haven for wildlife found among its marshes, reeds, and backwater areas. Kingfishers, great blue herons, and bald eagles all reside here, as do deer and other small animals.


Sunset from Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Eric Adsit.

4. Shoulder-Season Sunsets from Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Fall is one of the most spectacular seasons for sunsets, when partially clouded skies allow the light to reflect in ways unique to autumn and a low-angled sun. Add to that Ludington's west-facing shoreline and the setting of the historic Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington State Park, and you've got all the pieces of a brilliant postcard-worthy sunset just begging to be enjoyed.

5. Tranquility Following the Summer-Season Bustle

The excitement and tourism of summer is fun, but the crowds and bustle change the look and feel of a place. By October, Ludington quiets down immensely, and it's not uncommon to find beaches, trails, and favorite overlooks empty. The quiet shoulder season makes for better wildlife viewing, peaceful getaways, and less stress in organizing last-minute travel. We invite you to rejuvenate this fall by exploring the quieter season and autumn adventures in Ludington, Michigan.


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Located on the shores of Lake Michigan with more than 28 miles of beachfront and water access, Ludington offers a quintessential “Up North” experience close by. Ludington and surrounding Mason County deliver the perfect combination of unspoiled natural resources and unrivaled outdoor recreation with quaint, small-town charm. When adventure-filled days come to an end, visitors can enjoy unique dining experiences and bars, then rejuvenate in any one of the welcoming lodging accommodations the Ludington Area offers.