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Trail 3 - Indiana Dunes State Park, a favorite for birders.

Location: 1600 N 25 East, Chesterton, IN. 46304

Hours: 7a – 11pm daily

Trail Length: 1 mile - moderate

Entrance Cost: $7 for in-state vehicles; $12 for out-of-state vehicles; Annual State Park entrance passes can be purchased for $50 for Indiana residents and $70 for non-residents.

Parking: Yes, across from the Gatehouse.

Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash.

Restrooms: Yes, at the Pavilion or at the Southwest Shelter.

If you are looking for a moderate trail less traveled, Trail 3 could be just the ticket. The trailhead starts to the south of the gatehouse across from the Park Office and right after the limestone buildings that mark the entrance to the State Park.

Although the trail is moderate, it starts with a sandy climb to the top of the ridge and overlooks the entrance road and the gatehouse from above before looping towards the beach. This sandy one-mile hike remains high above the beach and the park as it loops through the Dunes Prairie Nature Preserve. The prairie is home to many different varieties of dune grasses, cacti and scrubby pines which does not provide a lot of shade, so it may be important to remember sunscreen on sunny days.

From several points along the trail, you have great views of the beach house pavilion to the North and the summit of Mount Tom to the East.

This trail is also a favorite for birders and its farthest point towards the lake leads to the Bird Observation Platform where birders keep track by marking the different species sightings on a board at the top. The platform also provides a great view of the beach, the lake and on a clear day, the Chicago skyline.

The trail finishes up by looping back through the Dunes Prairie Nature Preserve and ending at the roadside trailhead where it started.

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