Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is unique because it is a patchwork of protected lands broken into sections by harbors, factories, towns, and the state park. The beaches it protects are very popular with sunbathers and families in the summer. The winter brings great views and draws smaller crowds.
The patchworkness of the park (yes I just made up a word) can make visiting the park for the first time (or second) a little confusing. The visitor center is located at 1215 IN-49 Porter, IN 46304, which seems to be an address only Google Maps recognizes. Basically you take exit 26B off of IN-94 and drive a couple minutes north – the Visitor Center is on the right hand side before the bridge going over IN-20. I highly recommend stopping at the Visitor Center and speaking with a volunteer or Park Ranger about where you’re wanting to go or to get suggestions of things to do. They have maps of the trails and can give directions to the trail-heads. (Each trail-head has a container for trail maps, but they’re not always stocked.) Most trail-heads / historic sites of the National Lakeshore can be reached via IN-12.
The first time I visited Indiana Dune National Lakeshore was in January of 2015 with Lizzie. We visited the West Beach Area and hiked the Dune Succession Trail, you can read more about that adventure here. I had never seen ice on a beach before – it was a very cool experience. We also hiked the short loop of the Tolleston Dunes Trail, but managed to only take two photos. It was a pretty hike through trees and sand dunes that date back 10,000 years ago to when Lake Michigan was 25 feet higher than it is today.
I returned to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in April of 2018 and hiked the Mount Baldy Beach Trail and the Cowles Bog Trail.
You can read about my Mount Baldy adventure here.
You can read about my Cowles Bog adventure here.
Still on my Bucket List are:
- Ranger led hike to Mount Baldy Summit
- Little Calumet River Trail
- Dune Ridge Trail
- Heron Rookery Trail