Location: 618 N. Mineral Springs Rd, Porter, IN
Trail Length: 0.7 miles
Hours: Sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset
Entrance Cost: Requires a National Park Pass: 1-7 day vehicle pass: $25 per carload/$20 per motorcycle; Walk-in, bike-in, boat-in 1-7 day pass: $15 individual/$25 family; Indiana Dunes National Park Annual Pass: $45/year; America the Beautiful Annual Pass (entrance to over 2,000 federal recreation sites): $80/year. Passes can be purchased at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, 1215 N. State Road 49, Chesterton, IN.
Bloggers Thoughts: (Donna Lind) The south shore of Lake Michigan and the Dunes area is so rich in history and one of my favorite places to become immersed in some of that history is the Bailly Homestead in Porter. Early on Saturday morning, my husband, Greg, our four-legged hiking companion, Cooper, and I began our hike at the Bailly/Chelberg Comfort Station, with our destination being the Bailly Cemetery, a .7 mile hike into the woods from the homestead.
The trail starts past the Chelberg farmhouse and barn as a wooden boardwalk with some steps, but soon gives way to a well-marked path through bright green, sun-dappled woods. It is an easy hike that crosses Oak Hill Road, continues another .3 of a mile, and spills out into a grassy clearing. A cement-stepped walkway leads to the walled cemetery boundary that resembles the same architectural features of the two-story house back at the homestead.
I am always in awe of places like this and I can’t help wondering about the people whose lives are forever memorialized here. The markers built into the wall surrounding the cemetery of Francis Howe, his wife, Rose Bailly, her brother Joseph Bailly and his wife, Marie LeFevre can be easily read. There is also evidence of other gravestones, long gone, that had once marked the final resting place of other family members. Having done some research, I learned that a few of the unmarked graves are known to date as far back as 1814, but because this spot was also used for the local community of Swedish settlers, burials here were many and unmarked. The large wooden cross at the center of the cemetery silently keeps watch, with the morning sunlight casting the shadow of the cross over the secluded space, even on days when no one is there to see it.
We headed back the way we came, crossing back over Oak Hill Road and taking a fork in the path, over a small wooden bridge in the opposite direction from where we had come, enjoying the flowers and hidden treasures of the woods along the way. Completing the .8 of a mile loop past the Bailly Homestead, where Francis, Rose, Joseph and Marie once lived, we finished our hike back at the Comfort Station where we started.