MEARS, Mich. -- Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state in the union. While these lighthouses draw huge seasonal crowds, most are not the easiest to get to, and many don't offer access inside.
The lighthouse at Silver Lake State Park in Oceana County is one of the most easily accessible lighthouses to visit in West Michigan.
A walkway just a few hundred feet off the parking lot at Silver Lake State Park leads directly to the beach on Lake Michigan and the Little Sable Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse is one of four that is maintained by the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers' Association (SPLKA). It costs about $70,000 annually to maintain just this one facility. There's a three dollar donation per person to climb to the top (adults), which goes directly to the maintenance fund...but the view is fabulous!
You'll find a 130 stair climb to the top of the lighthouse and a "view to a kill" once you enter outside where the lighted beacon resides. The facility was built in 1874 and at one time contained a keepers house, which has since been removed. There have been 14 keepers at Little Sable Point Lighthouse over the years, the last of whom was Henry "Hank" Vavrina, who transferred to Big Sable when Little Sable became automated.
The walls of the lighthouse itself are about five feet thick at the base and about two feet thick at the top. The climb to the top takes you more than 90 feet above Lake Michigan for a panoramic view in all directions. There are plaques on the railing at the top that show Grand Traverse Bay is 111 miles to the north, Marquette 204 miles, Crisp Point Lighthouse 212 miles, and the Mackinaw Bridge 170 miles to the northeast.