Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Day Hiking Overview

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Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

  • It's a short mile and a half trek across shifting sands to get up and down Mount Baldy. At 126 feet, it's the largest moving sand dune in the park. A nearby spur trail leads to the beach.
  • For a day hike showcasing the region's diversity, the three loops of the Cowles Bog trail offer up to five miles of trail through cedar stands, sand dunes, and wetlands.
  • The walk from the Bailly/Chellberg visitor center to the historic Bailly Cemetery is less than a mile, but it is part of a four-mile network that passes through wetlands and the restored Mnoké Prairie. It's also near the working Chelberg farm.
  • The crushed-stone Calumet Trail is more popular with cyclists, but open to hikers for a ten-mile trip that follows a railroad grade clear across the park's eastern unit.

Here are highlights of the park's trails. "Climbing dunes" are located at West Beach and Mt. Baldy. Prevent erosion; hike only on marked trails.

West Beach: dunes, woods, prairie, beach, Long Lake ponds

Bailly-Chellberg: historical structures, woods, river

Little Calumet River: woods, river, floodplain, old fields

Calumet Dune: woods, dunes

Cowles Bog: marsh, woods, dunes, ponds beach

Heron Rookery: woods, river, floodplain

Hoosier Prairie: wet prairie

Inland Marsh: marsh, woods, dunes

Ly-co-ki-we: woods, marsh

Miller Woods: dunes, ponds, woods, beach

Mt. Baldy: dunes, woods, vistas, beach

Pinhook Bog: classic bog plants (scheduled tours only)

Dune Ridge: woods, dunes vistas

Calumet Bike Trail: rugged trail along edge of woods and prairie

State Park: trails, dunes, beach, marsh, woods

West Beach Area

The West Beach Trails will take you on a journey through time as well as space. Beginning on a bare sand beach and ending in an oak forest, they trace a process in nature that took thousands of years to evolve.

The National Park Service today is studying the development of natural dunes and has set aside for special observation several areas in the park's West unit. For this reason, visitors are asked to stay on the trail and to refrain from picking wildflowers or disturbing animal habitats. Have a pleasant walk.

Cowles Bog Area

In this area, Dr. Henry Cowles did some of his first studies of plant ecology. The Cowles Bog Area was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1965. While the trails do not actually go into the bog, it may be viewed from a distance while exploring the interdunal ponds, marshes, and wooded dunes of the area. Access to the bog is for research only.

Visitors are asked to stay on the trail and to refrain from picking wildflowers or disturbing animal habitats. Respect the private property that surrounds the Cowles Bog area and be sure to keep away from electric lines and facilities.

Bicycles are not permitted on the Cowles Bog hiking trail.

Bailly Homestead, Chellberg Farm, and Little Calumet River Trail

The Bailly/Chellberg area offers a glimpse of settlement history over the past 150 years. The area needs your protection. Please stay on the trail, leave wildflowers for others, and carry out whatever you bring in.

The loop trail connecting the Bailly Homestead and the Chellberg Farm is 1.4 miles; the entire Little Calumet River Trail is three miles. Remember that steps and trails are slippery in wet weather.

Ly-Co-Ki-We Trail

Ly-co-ki-we is a Miami word meaning "sandy ground." The Ly-co-ki-we trail, with loops ranging from one to six miles in length, can be used for hiking and horseback riding during warmer months, and cross-country skiing in the winter. The trail crosses two ancient dune ridges separated by a wetland, which were created as Lake Michigan waters receded.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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