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Monday, November 16, 2015

Ludington, Michigan / State Park Beechwood Campground

November 2015, Weekend-weeknight, 3 nights, Site 352

Lost Lake - photo taken from
Lost Lake Trail near Beechwood campground

State website and advance reservations

The activity information provided on the state website for Ludington State Park is great; however, the campsite photos and information for the campground are the worst I have ever seen. This is the only state of Michigan campground I have researched that does not provide the lot sizes. Not only that, many of the photos look deceiving as they are pictures of only the ground cover and no surrounding elements. Several photos are fuzzy, as well. The two photos below show the kind of photos on the campground reservation site.

Lot 311 - photo from state website
showing only the ground cover 
Lot 314 - fuzzy photo from state website

We thought lot 310 looked like the lot we wanted; however, since there were only two lots reserved in the entire park, and a few things about the lot information were unclear, we decided not to make an advance reservation and save the $8 reservation fee. Just our luck, that three days before our stay, someone checked into lot 310 for the rest of the week!


There was not anyone working in the ranger station when we arrived Friday evening, so we used the yellow telephone to check-in. When you register for your lot this way, you can pay by credit card over the telephone, or drop a check in a locked box. Several more lots had been taken before we arrived, and we ended up choosing lot 352. Beechwood campground is not close to the ranger station, and it was almost dark, so we did not drive back to look at the lot first. This was out first experience setting up in the dark! It was dusk when we arrived to check-in, and we needed our flashlights by the time we got checked in and backed on to our lot.

Beechwood campsite information - sites 352, 354, and 338 - 354

Lot 354 is the end lot in the row we chose; however, when I looked at the photos online, that lot looked smaller than 352, so we chose 352 instead. I examined several photos on the state website to try and see all of the surrounding details before choosing our lot. Lot 352 is a larger lot, and this would have been easier to figure out, if the lot dimensions had been provided on the website.

View from inside camper

All of the campsites in the row we camped in, lots 338 through 354, are against a hill, so they are secluded in the back, and not as windy as some of the lots out in the open. Most of them are shaded. Lots 339 and 340, which are located on the road curve, have more open area and sunshine.

Lot 352 is mostly level. It is a bit sandy and unlevel on the north end by lot 350. We chose to park on a slight angle and close to lot 350 (there was no one camping on that lot), which gave us a better view from inside, and more room on the lot. There is a small tree between lot 350 and 352. The fire pit on lot 350 is right next to the electric box and the lot lines, so we would not want to park this far back, if someone had been camping on site 350.

View out back window -
we had a bit of moisture in the morning, as it got cool in the evening!
Lot 354 is listed as a site that it can fit a trailer or RV up to 30'; however, we thought it would have been tight. In fact, someone in a motorhome (around 30') stopped to look at lot 354 the next day. It sounded like he thought he wanted that site until he actually saw it. He drove by it twice, and then he got out to look at it closer. He must have chosen a different lot because he did not return.

Beechwood and Cedar campsite information - sites 199, 205, 217, 219, 220, 235, 237, 238, 239, 248, 249, 275, 283, 309

My husband and I walked Beechwood and Cedar campgrounds with a map and took notes, since the state website does not provide much campsite information. Following are our observations of some of the lots. Keep in mind that we were looking at this from the perspective of camping with a 30' RV with two slide-outs.

199: This site looked deep enough for a 30' RV; however, it is only rated for up to 25'. Some of the other 25' lots in this same area also looked deep enough for a 30' camper or RV.
205: This is a nice large lot; however, it has low hanging branches at the back, if you have a tall RV.
217, 219, 220, 309: These lots are all quite narrow.
235, 237, 238, 239: These lots look kind of short for a 30' RV, unless you park sideways or on an angle.
248: This lot looked smaller than it looks in the photos on the state website.
249: This is a nice large lot, which is fairly secluded; however, it has low hanging branches, if your RV is tall.
275, 283: Both of these lots have a tar pad and grass! Lot 275 has more sun than 283. You are not actually butted up to the campsite behind you on these lots, because the ground is not level between the rows. Lot 283 sits lower than lot 275.

The other lots that we made notes about were consistent with what is shown on the state website. I hope this additional information is helpful for anyone looking to reserve a lot in Ludington.

Facilities and sanitation station

Although portions of this campground are open year-round, the restrooms and showers had been closed before our stay, and the water had been turned off in most areas. When we checked in, the staff member said we could get water in Cedar campground, although I do not recall where. We did not need water, so I did not make note of the specific location she told us. The sanitation station was open, and fresh water was available there, also.

Trail map obtained at the campground

Recreation  ~ sandy beaches, hiking trails, fishing, kayaking, boat launch

We were very impressed with all of the activities in this state park. There are many fabulous hiking trails, and the pathways between the campgrounds are paved for bicycling. Although the campsite information for this park leaves a lot to be desired, the trail map is excellent, and the trails are well marked. I am providing a few photos in this blog, and you can find more photos and information in the Ludington State Park album on my Facebook page.

A pileated woodpecker at the start of Lost Lake Trail
We stayed in Cedar campground two nights in September 2014, and Beechwood campground three nights this visit in November 2015. The trails we have been on include: Sable River Trail, Lighthouse Trail, Coast Guard Trail, Lost Lake Trail, Island TrailRidge Trail, and Skyline Trail. This is only a little more than half of the trails in the park. The trails we have been on were all fairly easy.

Lost Lake
There is a bit of climbing on a few of the trails--mainly on Skyline Trail, Ridge Trail and Lighthouse Trail--although none of these were as steep as the trails we hiked in Muskegon State Park.

The Lighthouse Trail probably took the most effort, because after the steep climb from Beechwood campground, the second half of the trail is through soft sand until you get to the lighthouse.
Lighthouse Trail

Skyline Trail is comprised of wooden steps and walkways from Sable River Trail. Sable River Trail is a combination of paved and wooden walkways. It is handicap accessible from the parking in front of Cedar campground to Hamlin Dam on both sides of the river.
Hamlin Dam

One of the benches along the trails

There are many benches along all of the trails in Ludington State Park, and a lot of fabulous views.

We observed people fishing along the river, and people in kayaks on Lost Lake. They launched the kayaks from the island off Beechwood campground near lot 309.

There is a boat launch near the picnic area into Hamlin Lake. The lake bottom is very sandy in Hamlin Lake, just like Lake Michigan.

Hamlin Lake

Misc. and overall

Ludington State Park is nearly 5,300 acres of scenic sand dunes, ponds, marshlands and forests. It is situated between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan with several miles of shoreline and beaches on both bodies of water.

This is one of our favorite state parks for the activities it offers. We prefer Hartwick Pines over Ludington State Park, mainly because along with the fabulous activities in that park, it also has some of the best campsites available.