Lighthouse Trail is a 5.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Hamlin Township, MI that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from March until September.
Directions from Daisy Farm Campground: Paddle from the campground or take a guided day trip from one of the visitor centers.
Great hike, but on a hot day take more water than you think you need! Much of this trail is sand and dunes, so wear appropriate shoes. Very nice payoff at the end with the beach and Big Sable lighthouse. We camped at Pines and hiked from there - was just under 4 miles round trip...Take a camera!
The map on this page is misleading--it shows the dirt road running between Pines Campground and the lighthouse (called the Lighthouse Road), not the actual Lighthouse Trail, which runs between Lost Lake and the lighthouse. You can indeed easily walk (or bike) the Lighthouse Road, starting from either Pines Campground or the Lake Michigan Beach House just southwest of it, but it's a far prettier and more satisfying hike to take the Lighthouse Trail, where you can enjoy the succession from beach to foredunes to interdunal wetlands to dune forest that makes Ludington SP special. (See the park's trail map here: http://www.michigandnr.com/Publications/PDFS/RecreationCamping/ludington_hiking.pdf.) Our favorite route is to start at Hamlin Beach, from which the Lost Lake Trail takes you to the Lighthouse Trail, then return after visiting the lighthouse (restrooms, gift shop, tour) by walking about a mile down the Lighthouse Road to the Coast Guard Trail, which takes you through some lovely dune forest back to Hamlin Beach (the Coast Guard Trail ends at Beechwood Campground; just cut across the campground to pick up the Lost Lake Trail taking you back to Hamlin Beach). This adds up to about 5 miles of moderate hiking, with around a quarter of it involving soft sand and/or climbing. Good chances of seeing deer, birds, butterflies and dune wildflowers.
Our family has hiked this trail at least a half dozen times. We have always begun at the Ludington State Park beach house and walked up the beach to the lighthouse and then back to the parking lot on the trail/road. Walking on sand can be uncomfortable if you have never done it before. We try to spend as much time as possible on the harder, wet sand. After a short while you will be able to see the lighthouse in the distance, but seeing it does it not make it actually close. We usually go up to the top of the lighthouse for spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding forested sand dunes. A beautiful trip every time.
Good mix of woods and sand hiking with an awesome view of the light house at the end! Many other LSP trails in the area as well all very well marked. Highly recommend them all.