Location: Approx. 106 Center St. in Michigan City (Across the street from Dune Billies Beach Cafe)
Trail Length: Just under a mile. Steep hills
Hours: Dawn to dusk
Entrance Fee: Free
Parking: Small paved parking area right off the street in front of Canada Park
Dog-Friendly : Pets must be on leashes no more than 6′ and must have current vaccinations (there ís a full list of rules at the trailhead)
Blogger Thoughts: (Laura Niemiec)
Bismarck Hill wants to know if you like a challenge because it will challenge you. As you walk across Canada Park, past the playground, the trail head looms in the distance. For the meek, the steep climb to start the trek will detour them but for those who have the courage, the views are worth it. The trail was opened to the public on June 16, 2018 and winds roughly a mile through the woods over three dunes. With the newness of the trails and the trail make up, dirt and wood chips, be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes/boots. On your mark…get set…climb!
After making it to the top of the initial hill, you have the option of going in three directions – 1) left, which hooks around a ridge with a few short climbs then empties out to pavement leading you to Lake Shore Drive right at Guy Foreman Amphitheater, 2) straight ahead – which I opted against because it drops drastically and I knew a descent like that would mean another steep climb very shortly, or 3) right – which climbs even higher up the dune. I opted to go right. Just as I was about to reach the crest of the hill I was startled by wild turkey, though I think I startled it just as much. The wild turkey was the first of many woodland animals I encountered during the hike – two deer, a groundhog, and many squirrels also crossed my path.
There are a few more short climbs as you wander closer to Lake Shore Drive and reach the highest point of the dune, but as you come out of the trees and make the final push to the top you are rewarded with a new perspective of Lake Michigan and the East Pierhead Lighthouse. It was a foggy afternoon on my visit but, taking in the view from the top, I could only imagine how much more stunning it would be as the sun sank below the horizon and lit up the sky. From the crest, back track just a bit on the trail and veer off, to your right, onto a trail that will descend into a valley before winding around and bringing you back to your starting point. You could stop here and call it quits or follow the last leg of the trail as it gives you peeks of the city.
At the end of the trail you will either have to back track to return to the park or you can continue down the paved road that connects the trail to Lake Shore Drive. Curious where it lead, I followed it and wound up across the street from Guy Foreman Amphitheater. Following Lake Shore Drive back to Center Street, a short 10 minute walk, puts you back at your vehicle.