Location: 101 Rice Street (U.S. Highway 12), Michigan City, IN 46360
Trail Length: 0.56 miles
Hours: 7am to dusk
Entrance Cost: Free
Dog-Friendly: Must be on 6’ leash or shorter
Parking: One lot just off of the main entrance
Restrooms: Yes, in parking area
Blogger Thoughts: (Laura Niemiec)
– Think solitude. This is the place to be on a weekday afternoon if you are looking for a quiet piece of paradise in dune country.
If you grew up around Michigan City as I did, you probably climbed Mt. Baldy dozens of times as a kid. Heading from the parking lot to the new trail, I stopped in front of the mountain of sand I climbed as a kid and stood in awe of 4 years overgrowth. This spot was where the sidewalk ended and a wide berth of sand gave way to the only mountain I knew as a child. Mt. Baldy was a challenge that kids loved and adults dreaded as they lugged coolers, beach bags and the like up that steep sand dune. The best part, at least as a kid, was not the stunning view of Lake Michigan from the top, but running down the other side all of the way to the water. I hope future generations will be able to do that.
Even though the dune I once knew looked different, I was happy to be able to explore my old haven once more. Climbing the steps from the parking lot to the trailhead you will find a wide, sandy path leading to the beach. The trees on this short trail provided plenty of shade from the hot afternoon sun but hiker/beach goer beware that stopping on the trail to snap a photo could leave you prey to mosquitoes and deer flies. The trail is said to be 0.56 miles officially but my Gaia GPS app told me from the steps to the beach it was only 0.34 miles. The hike in had some elevation changes but were steady overall until right before you reach the beach where you will have a short, steep, climb but the view from the top is worth it.
Descending the roped off trail to the beach was a breeze but climbing back up the dune there was a burn in my calves. I know Mt. Baldy is a living sand dune, but even so, I was very surprised at all of the erosion and how much the landscape had changed since I had last visited 4 years ago. You will see visible layers of vegetation, sand, sediment, roots and even clay exposed along the shoreline. There is a lot of dune restoration in progress, so please heed the warning signs and do not tread in those areas. This is not only to save the dune, but for your safety, too.
As for the beach itself, the beachfront is shallow but there is plenty of it in either direction. I went on a hot summer afternoon around 4:30pm and there were only a dozen or so patrons on the beach along with a few boats anchored just off shore. If you are up for a short hike and solitude on the beach, I definitely recommend Mt. Baldy.