Canoeing & Kayaking at Ludington State Park

Photo by Craig Sterken Photography

Let the Streams, Lakes, and Rivers Take You on an Adventure

Michigan has an abundance of lakes and streams that are not only beautiful, but are perfectly tailored to the wonderful pastime of kayaking. Whether you like swift-moving streams with some action, or idyllic ponds and lakes for smooth gliding, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for not far from where you live. One such place to experience this pastime is Ludington State Park. Within the park are several options to satisfy the explorer in each of us.

Upon entering the park, you’ll see the Sable River as it wends its way from Hamlin Dam and empties into Lake Michigan. Although a very short trip, it is a suitable introduction for beginners to float around and get comfortable in their kayak.

Further into the park you will find a lovely beach on the shores of Hamlin Lake. If you are in need of a rental, you can visit the Hamlin Concession and Canoe Rental. They have a variety of kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats. There is also a well designed boat ramp, and ample parking for those who bring their own craft. Both beginners and experienced kayakers can stop in and pick up a map of the Ludington State Park Canoe Trail.

A family canoes through the Big Sable River at the Ludington State Park. | Craig Sterken
Google map of the Lost Lake Waterway

The Lost Lake Waterway

The Lost Lake Waterway is technically part of the 5,000 acre body of water known as  Hamlin Lake. Yet, the Lost Lake Waterway is calm and protected from the harsh winds which can blow across the the main lake. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely paddle, with little islands and inlets to explore. 

After launching your watercraft from the Hamlin Lake Concessions, head north along the western shore of Hamlin Lake. This will bring you to a small inlet with a footbridge rising over it. Maneuver under the bridge and you will find yourself on Lost Lake. This serene section of peaceful waters is carved into a wooded area between Hamlin Lake and Beechwood Campground.

Gliding along on Lost Lake, you’ll pass a boardwalk and a small island next to the campground. But paddle beyond that and you’ll find yourself on a beautiful little lake dotted with hundreds of water lilies. As you reach the far end of the lake you’ll discover another foot bridge. Paddling under this will take you out along the shores of Hamlin Lake. As you follow the shoreline, you’ll discover many inlets and small islands. The area is teeming with wildlife; swans, ducks, deer, eagles, and more may be seen in this area. Kayaking here in early spring, you may discover wildlife tending to their newborns.

The trail is an enjoyable paddle and is comfortable for even novice kayakers. The trail follows the shoreline of Hamlin Lake for four miles, but many people just take on portions of the trail. Prepare to spend up to three hours for your trip and plan to portage the marshy areas. Keep in mind that early morning forays require lots of bug repellent. In addition, you want to bring your sunscreen and bottled water. Keep a sharp eye out and bring your camera, as it is not uncommon to spy bald eagles along this trail.

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Ludington State Park has so much to offer the kayaker.  Kayaking is a wonderful outing for couples, families, or even the soloist looking for solitude. So gather up your gear and your loved ones, and head out on the water for some fun!

Ludington State Park Contact Info:

Camping Reservations (Michigan DNR) or Ludington State Park Michigan DNR reservations- (800) 447-2757 
Ludington State Park Local Office- (231) 843-2423
Concessions & Watercraft Rental- (231) 843-1888
Snowshoe Class Reservations/Special Programs- (231) 843-9261

More About the Ludington State Park...

Ludington State Park

One of the most popular state parks in the Midwest offers a vacation within itself. Enjoy beautiful natural resources and endless activities.

Aerial View of Big Sable Point

Big Sable Point contains Hamlin Lake and Ludington State Park. Big Sable Point Lighthouse is at the tip which stretches into Lake Michigan.

Dune Grass Concessions

Dune Grass Concessions offers watercraft & bike rentals, concession food, ice cream, convenience items, State Park & Hamlin Lake souvenirs!

Ludington State Park Events

The Ludington State Park holds events year-round. There’s something for the whole family to enjoy at Michigan’s most popular state park!