Saugatuck Dunes State Park: Hike to this Gorgeous Lake Michigan Beach – and Leave the Crowds Behind

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach

All Trails Lead to Lake Michigan at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Saugatuck Dunes State Park is more than just a gorgeous Lake Michigan beach.

It’s one of the beautiful sand dunes spots in Michigan – but one with smaller crowds.

And it’s in West Michigan, right near the adorable beach town Saugatuck and their super fun Saugatuck Dune Rides.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach
Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach

Here’s a look at what to expect when you go and how to prepare:

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Accessing Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach

6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423

Reach the beach by hiking through the wooded dunes for 10 minutes.

  • For the most secluded beach experience, take one of the North Trail Loops.
  • For the shortest walk, take the Beach Trail. It is sandy and somewhat hilly.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park wooded hike to the beach

Emerge from the woods on a perch overlooking the lake and decide how to make it down the hill to the water.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park overlooking Lake Michigan

This hike-in, harder-to-get-to beach keeps the number of people down in the summer, especially on the north end.

Plus, the park is quite rustic and there are no boat launches here, which also reduces the park’s attendance.

That’s a bonus for those willing to put in the work.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Overview

As mentioned, the beach at Saugatuck Dunes is much less crowded than Oval Beach or the beach at Grand Haven State Park.

The delightful 300+ acres of parkland here not only includes 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan, but it’s also home to 13 miles of hiking trails through the sand dunes.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park trails in the spring - Hunt

Some of the dunes are 200 feet tall!

Before You Visit

If you’re toting a lot of beach gear, a wide-wheeled wagon might be your best friend. You’ll be going over sandy spots and up and down hills, so be ready for that.

There are no amenities, other than a vault toilet in the parking lot, at this destination. You’ll want to bring your own water.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach
About as busy as it gets, July 4th weekend, 2022

There is a small covered pavilion with picnic tables near the parking lot. We grabbed a picnic table and rewarded our hard work with a snack.

A Recreational Passport sticker on your license plate is required for entry to Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

Once you’re at the lakeshore, you have 2.5 miles of sugar-sand sunbathing spots to choose from. Enjoy!

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Hiking Trails  

If you’re interested in more than a beach day, and have a gravitational pull toward Lake Michigan like we do, you can explore more at the lakeshore by hiking at Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

This State Park is among over 50 hiking trails in West Michigan and offers four different trail loops of various lengths (from 2.5 to 5.2 miles).

Map: Saugatuck Douglas Visitors Bureau

We recommend checking the trail map before you go. Sometimes you’ll be able to pick up a map at the trailhead, but they are not always readily available.

Beach Trail (Yellow)

One of our favorites is the beach trail (the yellow trail). It features markers along the way stating “beach trail, to the beach” which is helpful if you get turned around.

The trail has some decent hills, but our visits with a kindergartner proved this aged kid could tackle the dunes with enthusiasm. 

If you want to head straight to the beach, the shortest trail is 0.6 miles one way and takes you over a sandy trail. Follow the black dotted line on this map to follow the shortest route to the beach.

Ditch the Stroller, Bring a Big-Wheeled Wagon Instead

While we haven’t hiked every trail at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, we would not recommend a jogging stroller for hiking here.

The beach trail goes through a hilly, wooded area and ends at Lake Michigan.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach Hike
Pine Grove on the North Trail at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

The North Trail goes through a wonderful grove of pines and involves a hearty climb at one point.

Open for Hiking All Year Long

On a early spring hike, our family had a lot of fun climbing, hiking, and watching the waves crash on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan dune view
Saugatuck Dunes State Park in Spring

All Saugatuck Dunes State Park trails end with a scenic overlook of the lake somewhere on the 2.5 mile-long shoreline, which makes any hiking routes worthwhile.

We find hiking here in the fall, with the fall colors, to be another great way to spend our family time.

Nearby Things to Do

If you’re looking to extend your visit we have you covered with family-friendly things to do in Fennville and Saugatuck.

Click image to see the best things to do in Saugatuck

FAQs

Where is Saugatuck Dunes State Park located?

The state park is about 5 miles north of the city of Saugatuck in Michigan.
To get there from Grand Rapids, take I-196 West for approximately 40 miles.

How long is the hiking trail at Saugatuck State Park?

saugatuck dunes state park pine tree hike

4 trails ranging from 1.5 to 5.5-mile loops.

The shortest trail to the beach is about 0.6 miles long (one-way) and takes most people 10 minutes. It’s sandy in places and ranked as moderate to difficult.

What is the difficulty level of the hiking trail?

Moderate, with some bigger hills.

What other activities are available at Saugatuck State Park?

This park is a perfect destination for hiking, beach days, and watching the sunset, and picnicking.

Adjacent to the park: The Felt Estate and Shore Acres Township Park. Amenities offered at the township park include a 2-mile mountain bike trail, a BMX track, a 19-hole disc golf course, basketball courts, hiking trails, a Lake Michigan beach, and more

Is Saugatuck Dunes State Park accessible?

No, this park is not accessible or stroller friendly.

What time of year is Saugatuck State Park open?

Open year round

Are dogs allowed at Saugatuck Dunes State Park?

Yes, this is a popular spot for dogs–but they are NOT allowed on the beach, just on the trails.

How much does it cost to get into Saugatuck State Park?

A non-resident day pass at a state park in Michigan, including Saugatuck Dunes State Park, is $10 and is good for entry and re-entry to any state park for the day.

Michigan residents can opt to pay $19 per vehicle (2024 pricing, at the park gate) for a pass valid until their next license plate renewal. Residents can also get a yearly Michigan Recreation Passport for $14 at the Secretary of State when renewing a license plate.

Can you camp at Saugatuck Dunes State Park?

There is no camping at Saugatuck Dunes State Park in Michigan. It is a day-use park, open daily from 8 AM – 10 PM.

Does Saugatuck State Park have sand dune rides?

No, the Saugatuck Dune Rides are located 3 miles south, on private property.

The dune rides are operated by a private business at 6495 Blue Star Hwy, Saugatuck, MI 49453.

Map of Grand Rapids Parks and Trails

Find your next outdoor adventure near you with this map of the best hiking trails, playgrounds, and parks in West Michigan.

Legacy Park is the latest kids park and playground to hit Ada.
Legacy Park in downtown Ada

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