Located on the shores of Lake Michigan with 28 miles of beachfront plus 2,000 miles of streams and 40 inland lakes, Ludington and Mason County offer a quintessential “Up North” experience of natural beauty with small-town charm that is magical in the fall — whether hiking a trail, driving a color route or paddling a canoe.
“Autumn is an ideal time to visit Ludington, even more so now as visitors seek safe outdoor activities,” said Brandy Miller, executive director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We offer everything from self-guided attractions to fall-themed events in addition to Mason County’s stunning natural show of fall colors.”
Here are some ways to experience Ludington in the fall.
Walk in the woods
Boasting 25 miles of trails, Ludington State Park is a 5,300-acre piece of paradise with trails in varying lengths for a full fall color nature experience. Popular hikes include the Lost Lake-Island Trail Loop and Skyline Trail (staircase to a boardwalk providing views of up to 20 miles to Silver Lake Sand Dunes on a clear day). Want to get a little more off the grid? Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area offers 10 miles of trails along Lake Michigan and in the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
Take a drive
See fall colors while learning about the area’s culture and history by driving a self-guided Mason County Cultural Trail with cell phone-accessible narration. Routes include Lumber Heritage, Barn Quilt, Sculpture, Maritime Heritage, Music Heritage, and Agriculture. Try the Agricultural trail with 17 stops, including autumn-themed places like farm markets with fall produce. Or follow this 10-mile fall color loop starting in downtown Ludington, going in a counterclockwise loop through the countryside passing parks, orchards, small towns and groves of trees that turn brilliant color in autumn.
Visit a U-pick market
Nothing says autumn in Michigan like a trip to a U-pick market or fruit stand. Mason County is dotted with them, including Christofferson Farms with cherries, peaches and other fruits for “U-pick” and to purchase; Kistlercrest Farms, a fifth-generation family farm growing sweet and tart cherries, apples and produce plus pure maple syrup; the Jam Farm with 30 varieties of jams made by the “Jam Lady” using fruit from her farm; Fox Barn Market & Winery with local food items, fresh produce and wine tasting; and Orchard Market (Ludington and Free Soil locations) with U-pick produce, bakery items, homemade jams and salsas and fall-themed items like cider, pumpkins and other fall produce.
Paddle a river or lake
With more than 2,000 miles of streams and 40 inland lakes in the county, you can get a unique view of Michigan’s fall colors from the seat of a kayak or canoe. Pere Marquette River, a designated national scenic river with 66 miles of clean-flowing water, is a favorite choice in the fall with the reflection of fall colors dancing on the river. Local outfitters rent kayaks and canoes if needed. Another popular spot to paddle and take in fall colors is Hamlin Lake in Ludington State Park.
Wet a line
Ludington is a top fishing port on Lake Michigan, with more trout and salmon caught here than any other port in Michigan. October brings steelhead to the big lake, and November is ideal for steelhead fishing in the Pere Marquette River.
One final reason to visit Ludington in the fall — lodging deals! Book a stay at a Mason County participating lodging property through Oct. 31 and get a second night at 50% off (excludes Fridays and Saturdays). Deal must be mentioned at the time of booking. See participating hotels at pureludington.com/fallspecial.