Department of National Resources
P.O. Box 30028
Saugatuck Michigan 49453United States
Annual vehicle permits $24$29; daily vehicle permits $6$8.
Rigorous hiking leads through hilly woods and over dunes to a totally uncrowded beach.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park sits just a few miles from downtown Saugatuck and Douglas (popular, artsy lakefront vacation towns) yet it feels very secluded as soon as you're on the park entrance road. The focus here is on natural beauty: dunes that top out over 200 feet tall, rolling wooded hills, unique plant communities and 2.5 miles of remote shoreline. Birdwatching is fruitful here. This 1,000-acre day-use park sees a fraction of the visitors that other lakefront parks receive, primarily because of the relatively long hike to the beach: it's a healthy, 20- to 30-minute hike. Saugatuck Dunes is also very much a wilderness-type DIY park: maintenance is light, and you'll probably not see a ranger or other park staff person. In fact, it would be smart to print a map from the website before you hit the trails here. You will find pit toilets and a picnic shelter with grills, but that's it for amenities. That said, the 13 miles of trails really are gorgeous, with clear signposts and periodic map boards. They're roughly divided into north, middle and south sections, but all the trails interconnect, so you could make a day of hiking. Some sections are challenging, as they follow dune ridges.