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Dune Ridge Trail - a trail for any season.

Location: East State Park Road, Beverly Shores, IN 46301

Hours: 6:00 am to 11:00 pm daily

Trail Length: .7 miles, 73 feet of elevation gain

Entrance Cost: Requires a National Park Pass; 1-7 da 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.

Parking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash.

Restrooms: Yes

Although this trail is less than a mile in length, it has some of the best the National Park offers in a short amount of time and is perfect if a quick hike is all you need. The trailhead is located at the south end of the Kemil Beach parking lot on East State Park Road and the sandy start leads you immediately up and into dense forest. The trail forks at the site of an old group meeting area where wildflowers and grasses have taken over the arched rows of weathered benches.

I usually choose the path to the right which leads through dense vegetation and cool shade from the canopy of oaks. Spring hikes here provide ephemeral flowers and curled fiddleheads. Summer boasts bright orange butterfly weed, plumed sumac and filtered sunlight through the leaves. Autumn hikes are a riot of color in every direction.

The trail gradually rises as it moves south through the forest, becoming narrow and sandy as it leads to the top of the dune ridge that gives the trail its name. Here you have a grand view of the Great Marsh far below and there are several good spots to stop and enjoy the scenery.

This is also the perfect spot for experiencing the sunrise or the sunset, especially in the fall and winter months when the days are shorter.

From here the trail leads back down into the forest where it will fork one more time – going right will connect with the Beverly Shores trail system and going left will complete the loop and lead ultimately back to the parking lot.

It is helpful to note that during the summer months, the parking lot can fill quickly because of its proximity to Kemil Beach so an early start or a late afternoon start might provide better opportunities for open parking spaces.

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