Ludington’s Scenic Hikes & The Cozy Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast

Aerial view of Ludington Harbor
Aerial view of Ludington Harbor

Ludington, Michigan, nestled along the picturesque Lake Michigan’s Shoreline, offers a vast array of hiking trails for nature enthusiasts of all skill levels. Here you will find many hiking trails, some near water with beautiful vistas of a Ludington Lighthouse to others that are more wooded in the beautiful Ludington State Park. After your day of hiking, book a stay at the top-rated Candlelite Inn Bed and Breakfast.

With so many trail options, you’ll be tempted to stay longer, checking them all out to learn your favorites while being pampered with luxurious lodging and bountiful breakfasts to fuel your day in beautiful Ludington, MI. Lace up your hiking boots and immerse yourself in some of our favorite Ludington’s scenic hikes.

Innkeeper, Melanie has also added some of her favorite spots in Ludington, which are highlighted at the end, so that you can “Live Like a Local” during your stay.

Foursquare building with steps and flowers blooming- the Candlelite Inn
Front view of Candlelite Inn

Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast: Your Cozy Retreat

After a day of adventure, unwind at the Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast, a romantic and inviting turn-of-the-century American Foursquare Bed & Breakfast. The inn has a perfect location on Ludington avenue only a short walk to downtown eateries and shopping, lighthouse, pier, and the famed Stern’s Park Beach.

To innkeepers Melanie and her sons Chris and Kyle Barnard, Ludington has and will always be a magical, secret place.  However, the secret is out after Ludington grabbed the number one spot on USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards for the “Best Historic Small Town” in the country.
One of your outdoor sitting areas
Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast one of two Back Decks
Guests at Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast enjoy seven themed rooms with private baths and a wide variety of amenities from high-speed internet, smart tv’s to soft embroidered spa robes. The first-floor king Romantic Retreat Suite is the most spacious of all with a cozy loveseat and jacuzzi for two with candles to light. To go with the relaxed and romantic feeling at the inn, an enclosed front porch is a favorite place for breakfast, board games, wine, and conversation. Outside, pink knock-out roses bloom all summer long in the front garden, and a soothing water feature adds to the serenity and beauty of this remarkable bed and breakfast..
Candlelite Inn Ludington - The retreat Suite Jacuzzi
Candlelite Inn Romantic Retreat Suite Jacuzzi

The Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast is known for its delicious breakfasts served by candlelight each morning, all made by hand with fresh local ingredients whenever possible. Innkeeper Melanie comes from a long line of women who loved preparing desserts, both professionally and for their families. After several years of innkeeping, Melanie found that baking one dessert for guests led to baking more. Now the whole family has fun preparing a variety of scrumptious desserts daily for their guest’s enjoyment, including cream and fruit pies, cakes, and pastries.

CandleLite-Inn-Ludington-Creamy-Bed and Breakfast Cheesecake
Classic creamy Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast cheesecake is often waiting for guests.

Trails Near the Water: Where Land Meets Lake:
Ludington’s Scenic Hikes

Along the Lake Michigan Shoreline

Aerial view of Big Sable Lighthouse in Ludington
Aerial view of Big Sable Lighthouse in Ludington

Ludington Lighthouse Trail

This trail offers a pleasant hike, suitable for all skill levels. You can expect scenic views, sandy beaches, and a chance to see wildlife. It takes an average of 1.5 hours to complete. The Lighthouse Trail winds over and through open and wooded sand dunes. At one end is the Beechwood Campground and at the other end is the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse is open daily May through October for visitors to tour and climb the tower.

  • Distance: Approximately 5 miles round trip.
  • Highlights: Stroll along sandy beaches, marvel at the historic lighthouse, and breathe in the fresh lake air.
  • Tip: Sunset hikes offer unparalleled views – the lighthouse bathed in warm hues against the water.
Map of Ludington State Park- Ludington's Scenic Hikes
State Park Trail Map via Explore Ludington

 Sable River Trail – Ludington’s Scenic Hikes

Let’s first explore the fascinating history of Ludington’s Sable River Trail and the natural wonder of Hamlin Lake:

Trail Evolution: Originally spanning 1.6 miles, the Sable River Trail formed a semi-loop along both banks of the Big Sable River within Ludington State Park. In the mid-1990s, the park transformed a significant portion of the trail into a paved path. Current Trail Configuration: Today, the Sable River Trail is a 0.7-mile path that begins at post No. 16 near the footbridge across the river. It skirts the south bank, leading to the Hamlin Dam. Along the way, hikers pass the east-end stairway to the Skyline Trail.

Historical Significance of Hamlin Lake: Originally dammed by loggers in the 1880s, Hamlin Lake served as a large holding area for trees felled upstream along the Big Sable River. The village of Hamlin, located within the state park, milled the timber which was then transported to Lake Michigan by mules. Unfortunately, in 1888, disaster struck when the dam burst resulting in a catastrophic flood. The flood swept away the mill, 40 homes in Hamlin and more than a million board feet of lumber.

Today’s Hamlin Lake: The state now maintains the dam, regulating the water level of the 4,490-acre lake. Anglers flock to Hamlin Lake for its excellent bluegill, northern pike, and muskellunge fishing. Many inlets and bayous, including Lost Lake, serve as spawning grounds for pike and muskie.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a nature lover, Ludington’s Sable River Trail and Hamlin Lake offer a captivating blend of past and present.

  • Distance: About 3 miles.
  • Experience: Follow the tranquil Sable River, its waters reflecting the sky.
  • Nature’s Symphony: Listen to rustling leaves and the gentle flow of the river – a soothing soundtrack for your hike.
Ludington hiking trail
Miles of scenic trails of all types to be found in Ludington State Park

2. Trails in the Woods: Whispers of Ancient Trees

Exploring Ludington State Park’s Forests

 Lost Lake & Island Trail Loop

By far the most popular hike in Ludington State Park, this trail weaves through ancient forests, revealing beauty around every turn. The serene Lost Lake awaits, surrounded by whispering pines.

  • Distance: 2.1 miles.
  • Enchantment: Meander through ancient forests, where towering trees create a cathedral-like ambiance.
  • Wildlife: Keep an eye out for deer, foxes, and the elusive pileated woodpecker.

 Skyline Trail

Ascend to higher ground for panoramic vistas of Ludington State Park. Sunrise hikes reward early risers with breathtaking views.  Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 40 minutes to complete. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and walking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day

  • Distance: 1.9 miles out and back
  • Elevation: Climb to higher ground for panoramic vistas.
  • Scenic Rewards: Marvel at undulating dunes, dense forests, and distant glimpses of Lake Michigan.
  • Sunrise Magic: Early risers are treated to breathtaking views.

 The Logging Trail

Step back in time as you explore remnants of Ludington’s logging era. Imagine the days when timber barons ruled these woods. Interpretive markers provide fascinating insights into the past. The Logging Trail meanders through the wooded sand dune valleys, giving you plenty of shade on a hot summer day. This historic trail loops around, beginning and ending at the north end of the Pines Campground.

  • Distance: 3 miles long

Candlelite Innkeepers favorite spots in Ludington include

  •  Catch a sunset at gorgeous Stern’s Park- picked by USA Today as one of the 51 Great American Beaches in the nation (less than a mile away)
  • Stroll out a half mile to Stern’s Park North Breakwater Light, voted by the Weather Channel as one of the top 10 lighthouses to visit in the country.
  • Tour the state-of-the-art Ludington Maritime Museum and historic White Pine Village
  • Butterville Beach: a hidden secret that is usually a quiet beach.
  • Another local secret: catch the Lake Michigan views from the Ludington Pump Storage Plant.
  • Stroll down the historic Ludington Ave and enjoy a meal at beautiful Table 14 or the casual Q Smokehouse.
  • Enjoy an old-fashioned yummy ice cream cone from House of Flavors.
  • Check out the popular local brew pubs: Jamesport Brewing Company and Ludington Bay Brewing.
  • Pick up your favorite fried fish from sixth-generation Bortell’s Fisheries, and then picnic while watching the waves at a nearby Summit Park beach.
  • Indulge in a tasting at Love Wines and later sip a glass on one of the inn’s back decks.
  • Take a little drive to Nordhouse Dunes for some spectacular hiking along the dunes.
  • Hike or mountain bike the Ludington School Forest trails, which are only about a mile from the Candlelite Inn.
  • Enjoy bird watching and hiking along the paved Cartier Park Nature Trail. Extra bonuses include the gazebo with views of Lincoln Lake, and artwork on display year-round.
  • Check out Ludington’s Peter Pan Land, walking about 10 minutes to another semi-secret Lake Michigan bluff.
  • Kayak, bike, golf, play pickleball, sunbathe, snowshoe & cross country ski- Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast is a year round destination in beautiful Ludington.

Book your stay at a perfect bed and breakfast, recharge, and let Ludington’s magic envelop you. 🌿🏨✨

Note: The Michigan DNR has announced that the Ludington State Park will be closed from September 3rd, 2024 through July 1st, 2025 for renovations. Improvements include parking lot repaving and expansion, plus upgrades to warming shelters and traffic areas. Regular updates on closure dates and construction photos will be shared on the Ludington State Park Facebook.