They have discontinued mowing the path from the upper parking lot, so you now need to access the trail from the Picnic Area parking lot, or from the disc golf course. These directions will be those using the golf course from the Lower Parking Lot on the east side of Lakeshore Drive.
Follow the pavement toward the Upper Parking Lot. Tee 6 of the Beast golf course will be on your left. This is a mowed fairway. Follow that course to the cage and beyond. Turn right at the cage and take a wide mowed path to the paved service drive. Turn left and stay on the drive for 200 feet. Tee for Beast 2 is on your right take the left-most mowed path which goes to the right off the drive. Follow that course to the cage at the top of a hill. From that cage you can see 3 rocks painted green with numbers on them on the slope of the next hill with a valley between. Go to the bottom of that valley. At the very bottom turn into the woods on the right. There is the faintest of openings here, this is not a maintained path. But as soon as you are in the woods you will see that a pathway continues at the bottom of the valley. This soon joins with other golf fairways and leads to the trail.
The trail turns left and crosses rolling hills in short but moderate ups and downs over a vertical range of about 80 feet. In 7 minutes you are directly east of the recreation area where there is a pavillion, playground, picnic area, and toilet facilities (open in summer only). There is a signpost here at a junction with the "official" trail to the pavillion. Cages and tees for frisbee golf are located along the trail. Several more ups and downs will bring you to the end of the woods and to the Chauvez Road crossing in 12 more minutes.
There is another marker sign on the north side of the road. Follow the mowed path and enter a field dotted with young spruce and a stand of white birch. There is a gated, gravel service drive to the west of the trail; do not be confused and follow this. Just a few steps north of Chauvez Road the mowed path turns right (east) so that the spruce and birch will be on your left. I had no trouble following this even in early spring, but just stay parallel to the pavement if you are not sure, and you will be fine. In 5 minutes the trail makes a dip to cross Inman Road, and there is another marker sign here.
Continue east across the open field, passing behind a pavillion used by the model airplane club. From here, even if you are unsure of the actual treadway, you can see several boulders across the field to the east. Pass between these, cross another service drive, re-enter the woods, and after 400 feet you will reach the campground loop drive. There is a marker sign here so you can be assured of finding this terminus of the trail. (Although it is aligned with the paved drive, not the trail!) It is located between campsites 18 and 19. A site map kiosks is located by the campground toilet building (closed in winter). Note that it is not oriented with the direction you are facing when you look at it.
Access- Park in one of two paved lots on the east side of Lakeshore Drive. The lower lot is open all year, while the upper one is gated in winter. OR in summer you can drive to the Picnic Area and access the trail near the mid-point of the description. If you are camping at the campground, you can access it from the north end, but there is no public parking there. People sometimes park where the trail crosses Chauvez Road at the end of the service drive there, but I'm not sure if this is legal.
Restrictions- No motorized vehicles allowed.
Distance and time- 1.2 miles, about 35 minutes (one way). Mileages were measured on a topographic map and verified by pacing, at which I am fairly accurate.
Trail Markers- brown free-form signboards with yellow lettering
Condition of Marking- at junctions only, but treadway is well-maintained and easy to follow
Treadway- Packed gravelly soil through woods, mowed grass through field north of Chauvez Road. Stable footing- few roots
Grades- gentle to moderately steep
Ecosystem- Mixed hardwood of maple, oak and beech. Some open grassy fields with one beautiful stand of white birch. The Disc Golf Course is used a lot and traffic for this activity has compacted the area quite a bit.
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- July 2006
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Camping- Mason County Campground has 49 full hook-up sites, modern bath house, playground, picnic tables, grills, fire rings. There is no public parking in the campground.
Picnicking- large grassy picnic area with pavillion, rest room and water in summer, tables, grills
Playground- swings, climbers, slides and more at the picnic area. Grass surface.
Scenic Views- observation towers on both Vista Point and Overlook Trails
Disc Golf- three, 9-hole courses- Beauty, Beast, and Goliath- ($1 donation per day requested- collection boxes on site)
Handicap Accessibility- restrooms are accessible
Rest Rooms- full rest rooms open only in summer at the picnic area and campground
Potable Water- summer only at the picnic area and campground
Access- parking on Lakeshore Drive open all year; road to picnic area gated in winter
Restrictions- no motorized vehicles off road
Seasonality- campground closed in winter, no drive in access to picnic area in winter, rest rooms closed in winter
Ecosystem- rolling hills on bluff above Lake Michigan, large man-man impoundment reservoir, meadows and woods
Other points of interest- Ludington Pumped Storage Project, Mason County Model Airplane Club flying field
Most recent date this info personally checked- see individual trails
Maintained by- Mason County Parks Commission
P.O. Box 271
Ludington, MI 49431
More- Mason Co. Disc Golf Assoc
2136 W. Kistler Road, Ludington, MI 49431