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Four spring hikes and where to refuel after you hit the trails.

Feature photo: Heron Rookery by Stephen Lehman

Spring is here and all of us are itching to get outside, hike and see our flowers come back to life. But where do you go? Time is limited and there is so much out there to see! We’ve picked our top four spring spots along with a good place to go eat and drink (before or after) you hit the trails.

  1. Miller Woods and Miller Bakery Cafe  Miller Woods is one of our all-time favorite hikes. There is a parking lot near the Douglas Center on Lake Street. It’s an out and back trail that will take you all the way to the beach if you are adventurous enough. Along the way you will pass prairie, oak savannah, lagoons, dunes and more. It truly shows you how biodiverse this area is. Once you are done, head right down Lake Street to Miller Bakery Cafe. If you are over 21, have a seat at the bar and enjoy a beverage and some small plates. All of which are delicious. The atmosphere is great, the pours are perfect and the food will not disappoint. If the kids are with you, there is family seating in the dining room.

  2. Heron Rookery and Hunter’s Brewing For Heron Rookery, we suggest you park at the alternate lot in Chesterton. (1301 North County Road) and start the trail from there. The flowers in April are absolutely beautiful here. The trail runs along the Little Calumet River and you could actually go all the way through to MC or you could head about halfway down and turn back. The trail is 3.3 miles when you go out and back. Fishing is also very popular here. When you are finished, take a quick drive over to Hunter’s Brewing, located at 1535 S. Calumet Rd for a cold beer and a light lunch or dinner. This nano brewery brings some high-quality, small batch brews. Under 21? how about fueling up at Third Coast Spice Cafe for breakfast before you head out.

  3. Brincka Cross Gardens and Smokey’s Southern BBQ Brincka Cross Gardens is one of the area’s hidden gems. Developed by artist Bill Brincka and his companion Basil Cross, this area of 21 acres has some beautiful gardens. Tucked away on Furness Road just off of US 20, many of you have seen the signs, but how many have taken the time to check it out? There are over 1.5 miles of trails now and it’s worth a stop! Once you’ve visited the gardens, head over to Smokey’s Southern BBQ for some carry out. Perfect to take home or enjoy on their outdoor seating on nice day. Specializing in ribs, sides and to die for desserts, it will be sure to satisfy.

  4. Warren Woods and Staymaker Warren Woods is where Dig the Dunes picks it’s Botany Hike each year. Because of the variety of spring flowers, this is the perfect spring hike. Warren Woods is a 311 acre state park and has some beautiful trails that follow the Galien River. Warren Woods is in perfect proximity to Three Oaks, where you can head over to Staymaker and have a Journeyman cocktail and some delicious pizza or a sandwich off their menu. The atmosphere is open, airy and gorgeous and after the day you will  feel like you’ve taken a little weekend get-away!


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