Top 10 Things Worth Visiting on Route US-12 in Michigan

  1. Charles Mears State Park

Nestled on the north side of Pentwater, the Charles Mears State Park owes its name to a lumber baron Charles Mears. He built a channel from Pentwater to Lake Michigan, and several years later built a 660-foot long pier into the Lake. The state was deeded the land for the park by Mear’s daughter in 1920.

  1. Silver Lake

Silver Lake is a large shallow lake lined with picturesque and petite cottages on the east side and incredible sand dunes on the west side. The dunes erode into the lake every year, so time is precious in this beautiful spot. Despite the erosion, the lake is so clear that the surface is almost like a silver mirror on a still day.

  1. Silver Lake Dunes

The Silver Lake dunes are remarkable pieces of nature. The sand erodes at a pace of nearly 20 feet per year, which is why the entire forests and even some of the picturesque cottages have been swallowed up while others have been exposed. The dunes are perfect for off-road vehicles and fun hikes. Be sure to keep track of landmarks and take a compass as the shifting sands can become treacherous if you get lost.

4 Little Sable Point Lighthouse

The Little Sable Lighthouse was finished in 1874 after a schooner called Pride was grounded in 1871. The government began construction of the lighthouse and finished it in time for the shipping season in 1874. The lighthouse sits near the shore at Little Sable Point and creates a beautiful breakup of the natural coast line.

  1. Luddington’s Hiking Trails

Luddington State Park is home to 16 miles of hiking trails that pass through a gorgeous array of different terrains. It passes through mature dune forests, interdunal wetlands, and windblown dune formations. A newly constructed walkway along the Big Sable River gives anglers and hikers great river access as well.

  1. Hamlin Lake

Hamlin Lake is located on the eastern side of the Luddington State Park. It is the largest artificial lake in Michigan. It was used as a storage pen for logs waiting to travel down the river to Lake Michigan. The mill town that was located there was washed away a long time ago. Now the lake is mostly used for fishing and recreation.

  1. Ludington Pumped Storage Plant

Visible from the west side of U.S. Highway 31 is the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant. What you’ll see from the road is just a steep and grassy hillside that conceals the plant. It pumps water from Lake Michigan through 6 turbines to produce electricity. At night the water is released into a reservoir. During the day water is pumped back into Lake Michigan to power the turbines.

  1. Manistee National Forest

Manistee National Forest sits on the northern edge of the Ludington State Park and is home to the Lake Michigan Recreation Area and the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness. It’s a small out of the way forest. It features a rustic but well-kept campground and gorgeous natural sand beach. There are beautiful scenic hiking trails leading through a wide array of forests with rich wildlife.

  1. Manistee River

The Manistee River changes its character multiple times as it winds through the forests of northern Michigan towards Lake Michigan. It’s fed into the Manitee Lake, and is considered to be one of the cleanest rivers making its way through this wooded area. It was very important during the height of the logging economy for transporting timber down to the lake.

  1. Manistee Lake

At the mouth of the Manistee River sits Manistee Lake. It’s a large natural impoundment that collects the water from the river briefly before it continues on a human made channel into Lake Michigan. The shoreline of this lake is heavily developed, and the waters have a pivotal role in the economy of the city of Manistee.