Saugatuck Dunes State Park: This Hidden Lake Michigan Beach is Worth the Hike

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach

All Trails Lead to Lake Michigan at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

You’ll almost have the Michigan sand dunes, along with a sweeping Lake Michigan beach, to yourself at Saugatuck Dunes State Park in Saugatuck MI.

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

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: 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. Some of the dunes are 200 feet tall!

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423

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FAQs Saugatuck Dunes State Park

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.

What 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

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 $17 per vehicle (at the park gate) for a pass valid until their next license plate renewal. Residents can also get a yearly recreation passport/park pass for $12 at the Secretary of State when renewing a license plate.

Michigan Recreation Passport

A Michigan Recreation Passport or Non-resident Day Pass is required to enter Saugatuck State Park.

How long does it take to hike to the beach at Saugatuck State Park?

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.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach Hike
Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach Hike

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.

The Beach at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

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

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach

For the most secluded beach experience, take one of the North Trail Loops.

For the shortest walk, take the Beach Trail.

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, at the beach – bring your own water.

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

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

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Hiking Trails  

Hiking Trails Overview

Enjoy natural- surface hiking paths through hardwoods, dunes, a creek & hills, leading to Lake Michigan

Trail Length: 4 trails ranging from 1.5 to 5.5-mile loops
Trail Difficulty: Moderate, with some bigger hills.
Dogs Allowed? Yes, this is a popular spot for dogs–but they are NOT allowed on the beach, just on the trails.
Facilities: Port-a-potty facilities are available at the trailhead and at the lake.
Stroller Friendly? No
Time of Year Accessible: Open year-round

I have a gravitational pull toward Lake Michigan, so I was thrilled to explore and write about the lakeshore at Saugatuck Dunes State Park!

Saugatuck Dunes State Park offers four different trail loops at varying lengths (from 2.5 to 5.2 miles).

I would recommend checking the trail map before you go since there wasn’t one readily available at the trailhead when we visited.

We hit the beach trail (the yellow trail). It featured 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 my kindergartner tackled them with enthusiasm. 

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

Map: Saugatuck Douglas Visitors Bureau

Saugatuck Dunes State Park has some of the 50+ great hiking trails in West Michigan.

While we didn’t check every trail, I would not recommend a stroller for this hike.

The beach trail goes through a hilly, wooded area and ends at Lake Michigan (with another port-a-potty located at the end of the trail).

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

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach Hike

We had a lot of fun climbing, hiking, and wave watching once we got there.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park has 2.5 miles of shoreline, so feel free to explore a bit!

According to the trail map, all the trails end with a scenic overlook of the lake–which makes any hike worthwhile.

With multiple trail options, this is a place you could visit again and again with your family!

Lake Michigan dune view
Saugatuck Dunes State Park in Spring

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.

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

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
Click image for best things to do in Saugatuck

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