Now that we have a National Park, we need to get out there and explore it, right?
Not so fast! This National Park is a little different than a lot of the other National Parks. There’s not just one gate that gets you access into the whole park. (that’s the State Park, folks!). Our National Park is unique. There are so many different places to go and see. Fun! But…that can get confusing. We’ve decided to do a series of articles on our 61st National Park to try to help you navigate it. This first post brings you our favorite trail for every season.
Keep it in you back pocket and use it all year long!
FALL – Cowles Bog. There’s nothing more beautiful than a run or hike at Cowles Bog in the fall. The Cowles Bog trailhead is located at 1618 N Mineral Springs Road in Dune Acres. This is a longer trail (full length is 4.7 miles) that will take you all the way to the beach if you do the full route. There are also shorter loops for those looking for less mileage. Want to keep going? You can also find the “secret trail” at Cowles Bog for a shorter out and back. Consider heading to Wagners Ribs or Plat 35 Brewery in Porter before or after you tackle this one! More info here.
The shelf ice in the winter is beautiful, but stay off it!
WINTER – Glenwood Dunes. What gets most duners through the winter? Cross country skiing! And Glenwood Dunes is the best place to go. This trail system can be accessed in 2 spots (1475 N. Brummit and 1596 N. Kemil, both in Chesterton). The accessway off of Brummit is flatter and better for beginners, while the loop at Kemil has some fun twists, turns and little hills. You do need to bring your own skis for this trail. (Want to rent some? Head to the Douglas Center in Miller!) More info here.
Not a skiier? Head North on Kemil road for a quick hike through Dune Ridge Trail and a walk on the beach in the winter time. There is plenty of parking at the end of Kemil and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the shelf ice. But don’t walk on it!
Looking for a spot to eat? The Goblin & The Grocer is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
SPRING – Miller Woods (Paul H. Douglas Trail) AND Heron Rookery. We couldn’t pick just one for springtime in the dunes. Miller Woods recently renamed the Paul H. Douglas Trail, is located along Lake Street in Gary. It is a gorgeous out and back trail that will take you past many ecosystems, wildflowers (lupine!), lagoons, dunes and the beach. Make sure to head inside the Douglas Center for all sorts of fun. Stop along Lake Street in Miller for something to eat or drink! More info on the trail here.
Heron Rookery, if timed just right, is like being inside a fairytale. The trillium is everywhere, the creek flows beneath you and the birds are chirping. This trail can be accessed in both Michigan City and Chesterton. We recommend parking at the small lot off of 450 east. (a little difficult to find, pull up your map and look for the lot). More info here. Head into downtown Chesterton after tackling this one. Third Coast Spice is great for a full breakfast, Red Cup for something a little lighter or Octave Grill for one of the best burgers in the dunes!
The Dunes at West Beach
SUMMER – West Beach. We love hitting West Beach in the heat of the summer. This is the area’s largest beach parking lot. It also has a concession stand and plenty of bathrooms. Our favorite part, though, is Succession Trail. No one should leave the 61st National Park without doing this trail. It’s not for the faint of heart though. You will climb hundreds of stairs, but oh, the view is worth it! And, the best part is that you can cool off in the lake when you are done. More info on all the trails at West Beach, right here.
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