top of page

A Guide to Spring Flowers in the Dunes

Submitted by: Donna Lind

Spring can be elusive in Northwest Indiana; the calendar will say it’s spring but the weather may not always look the part. Nonetheless, new life springs forth even when we aren’t always able to see it and before you know it, the evidence is all around us. There is no better way to celebrate a fresh new spring than searching out those places in the Dunes where spring ephemerals bloom even before leaves fill the trees. Here are some of our favorite places.

Nothing rings in spring like Brinka Cross Gardens.  Located at 427 Furness Road in Michigan City, the gardens come alive during the months of April and May. Forsythia and Magnolia trees in full bloom decorate the garden and their petals shower down to carpet the paved pathways. Snow drops and Bluebells give way to Hellebores and over 400 varieties of Daffodils cover Daffodil Hill as far as the eye can see. Strolling through this garden is a great way to celebrate spring renewal in the Dunes.

Another favorite spot for spring ephemerals is the Heron Rookery Trail located at 1336 600 East in Michigan City with an alternate trailhead at 1301 North 450 East in Chesterton. Because this trail follows the Little Calumet River, it is the perfect place to find Dutchman’s Breeches, Trout Lilies and the umbrella leaves of May Apples. In May, start at the Chesterton trailhead to find plumes of purple lupine.

Speaking of lupine, one of the best Dunes displays can be found on the Paul H. Douglas Miller Woods trail located at 100 North Lake Street in Miller. Mid-May is the perfect time to visit and it won’t take you long, winding your way from the Douglas Center, before you are surrounded by waves of lupine dancing in the spring breezes, covering the hillsides and lining the path. If you ever doubt the magic of the Dunes, hike this path in the spring. It is truly breathtaking.

A spot less traveled, the Zona Wildlife Sanctuary, located at 601 E. 950 North in Westville, has a trail specifically named the Wildflower Trail and for good reason.  It was named by Rosie Zona, who raised her family on this land with her husband, Paul. The trail winds into the woods through carpets of white Trillium, Spring Beauties, Bloodroot and white and pink Hepatica. It was Rosie’s favorite spot.

Another great spot for carpets of white and red Trillium is the woodland trail at Warren Dunes State Park, located at 12032 Red Arrow Highway in Sawyer, Michigan.  Deep in the woods, you can find moisture beading up on their leaves and petals from the heavy dew during an early morning May hike.

Although these are some of our favorite spots, spring is a magical time in the Dunes and wildflowers can found almost everywhere.  Other spots to check out are Gabis Arboretum, the wild iris at Cowles Bog and Upland Trail, and Trail 2 in the Indiana Dunes State Park, and the beds of trillium at the J. Timothy Ritchie Preserve in Chesterton.  I use a wonderful guide called “What’s Doin’ The Bloomin’?“ by Clayton R. Oslund to help me identify the wildflowers I find. You can also search for a good phone app that can be downloaded to help you identify wildflowers like “Seek” by iNaturalist or PlantNet. Here’s hoping you can enjoy some of these spots or, better yet, find a favorite of your own.


Find all the trails mentioned here, and many more....right here!


bottom of page