Just outside of Saugatuck is one of the most beautiful state parks in Michigan. The Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a one-of-a-kind park, perfect for the outdoorsman or beachgoer. With miles of hiking trails, pristine beaches, and ideal birdwatching conditions, the park is at the top of the list of things to see and do in the area. Nature enthusiasts will relish in the opportunity to enjoy the sandy causeways and even observe endangered plant species. So, what’s the best way to enjoy Saugatuck Dunes State Park?
Saugatuck Dunes State Park is Teeming with Life
The day-use park is located along an isolated strip of Lake Michigan shoreline. When you come to the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, you’ll encounter over 1,000 acres of land and 2.5 miles of pristine sandy shores. The freshwater coastal dunes can reach up to 200 feet tall, some of the tallest freshwater sand dunes in the world. This incredible land feature creates a unique ecosystem that you can only find here. It also makes for some of the best hiking in the area.
Hiking in the Park
While much of the park is undeveloped, 13 miles of hiking trails lead you into the 1,000 acres of wooded dunes. Wide and well-marked trails wind like a labyrinth throughout the park. In addition to the incredible dunes, you’ll also have a great chance to enjoy some of the best birdwatching conditions in the area. The park is also perfect for nature photographers as many hikers have reported seeing a lot of friendly wildlife! Something to note: while the trails themselves are dog-friendly, the beach is not. Regulations dictate that your dog must be on a 6-foot leash at all times and must not be unattended.
In terms of difficulty, the hike has generally reported being moderately difficult due to the sandy trails. So, if you plan on hiking, be prepared with plenty of water for your trek. And, be certain to pick up after yourself! Don’t pollute what is one of the best-kept state parks in the area!
You’ll have a short hike to the beach, roughly 0.6 miles. So, pack a picnic, don’t bring any glass bottles or containers, and enjoy the solitude of a quiet, protected beach away from all the crowds! Also, fires are not permitted on the beach.
Other Activities in the Dunes
One of the most popular places in the area is Oval Beach, just 15 minutes away from Saugatuck Dunes State Park. The beach has earned an international reputation by being named one of the top 25 beaches in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, one of the top two freshwater beaches in the U.S.A. by National Geographic Traveler magazine, and one of the top five beaches in the U.S.A. by MTV. More recent recognition from the Chicago Tribune named the beach the #1 of the top five beaches and rated it the best beach on Lake Michigan. That’s quite a list of honors! With a concession stand, restrooms, showers, a playground, picnic tables, grills, and ample parking, Oval Beach is just outside of Saugatuck!