Saugatuck Dunes State Park and Natural Area is a beautiful, lakeside trail system that has become a gem in western Michigan. This figure-eight hike combines trails in both the northern and southern sections to provide a recommended route for visitors. As all trails in the State Park and Natural Area can be traveled in either direction, this hike can be split in half, traveled in the opposite direction, or further adapted for time and/or ability.
Pick up a trail map at the Contact Station or check out the Hiking Project mobile app
for on-trail navigation.
Exposed sand can be hot in the sunny, warmer months of the year. Be cautious when visiting with a dog. Traveling through sand is tough, expect time and effort to be greater than traveling on hardpack dirt. Ticks, flies, and mosquitoes present in the wooded sections, especially when it's warm.
From the main parking area to the north (southern parking is for the Livingston Trail and Shore Acres Township Park), find the North Trail (White) trailhead. It starts abruptly with a challenging climb through the woods, before descending along the North Trail: Inner Loop (White)
toward the View to Lake Trail
. Enjoy the sweeping view of the lake at the one-mile mark, before heading south along the lakeshore to link up with the Beach Trail
at Trail marker C. For visitors looking for an easier option at this point, simply take the Beach Trail
back to the starting point for a ~two-mile roundtrip.
For this hike, continue back into the woods, ascending toward Township Park, keeping an eye out for a connector to the right (southeast). Take the connector and turn right again on the Connector
toward Trail marker 9 and Livingston Trail (Red)
. Bear right again (south) to take the Livingston Trail (Red)
out toward the lakeshore along some short and somewhat steep hills.
Emerge from the woods to the lakeshore once again, this time at Trail marker D. Enjoy a flat stroll along the lake to the south for the final winding, two-mile return on the northern section of the South Trail (Blue)
loop around Pelican Peak. This trail is in the Saugatuck Natural Area and adds a good amount of elevation to the hike, though it's a great way to see fewer people.
Deer, songbirds, shorebirds.