SAUGATUCK CHAIN FERRY
The only one of its' kind in the country! The hand-pulled Saugatuck chain ferry is yet another not-to-be-missed activity during your Lake Michigan vacation.
This one-of-a-kind, human-powered vessel is hand cranked across the Kalamazoo River on pulleys from its' launch in downtown Saugatuck to its' landing spot across the river at Mt. Baldhead Park
Here's what happens. The passengers load on the ferry. The "all-aboard" is announced and the horn (a can of compressed air) blows to halt boat traffic in both directions. Three different pullies keep the ferry in line as it's being pulled across the river.
Saugatuck claims that this is the only remaining chain driven ferry in the US. It dates back to 1838, but the ferry presently being used was built in the 1930's. This is really an unusual operation to watch and definitely "one for the memory book."
If you'd like to make a real event of this, take the ferry over to Mt. Baldhead Park and try out the new stairway up to the top of this monster sand dune. To the top of Mt Baldhead and the observation deck, you will climb 282 steps. Some call it the stairway to heaven because at the top of this 600' dune you can see Saugatuck and the Kalamazoo River Valley to the east and all the way to Lake Michigan to the west!
Then, you can hike down the other side of Mt Baldy, or better yet - RUN down the other side of Mount Baldhead just like we loved to do as kids. Boy, was that fun! Our legs would go so fast that we looked like cartoon characters.
And when you get to the bottom of the dune, you're right at the Lake Michigan Shoreline at beautiful Oval Beach Park. Take some time and walk the beach, take a swim, look for beach glass or Petoskey stones, build a great sand castle, or just enjoy the wonderful lake view.
But, save a little energy for the hike to your ferry ride back across the river. At least going back you'll be walking down those 282 steps from Mt. Baldy!
If you enjoy the Mount Baldy sand dunes, be sure to visit Saugatuck Dunes State Park just back across the river. Here's a Saugatuck Dunes State Park Map showing the layout as well as the various hiking and cross-country skiing trails You might also want to check out all of our handy downloadable Lake Michigan and South Haven to Saugatuck area maps!
The wonderfully restored Historic Felt Mansion shares a parking lot with Shore Acres Park, which is just a stone's throw from world famous Oval Beach. There are also tales of Felt Mansion hauntings you may want to hear about.
Saugatuck Chain Ferry
Located: (see #33 on Saugatuck Points of Interest Map)
Phone: (269) 857-1701
Hours of Operation:
Restroom facilities in both ferry landing areas.
GREAT picnic area (free to use) right at the parking lot that overlooks the Kalamazoo River and the impeccably kept gardens of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Museum. It's a perfect setting for a snack after your Mt Baldy climb!
Take advantage of this unique opportunity while you still can.
Saugatuck Chain Ferry Memories
Saugatuck Chain Ferry Stories
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