There are over 16 miles of trails at Indiana Dunes State Park. Of the seven trails, I’ve done five of them so far. I’ll give a short description of the trails in this post. Sometimes I didn’t exactly go on the best day for photos (overcast with a misty rain at times) but there was always a cool temperature perfect for hiking.
Trail #9 is the first trail I did and my favorite. It’s 3.75 miles long and rated moderate difficulty. It starts near the Nature Center and is a lasso-shaped trail. The first part of the trail is through a forest. I went counter-clockwise at the split.
The trail went through more forest and then passed by the Furnessville Blowout. A blowout is a depression in a sandy environment where strong winds have removed the sand. Shortly after, the trail climbs up a bit. Some spots along the way have great views of Lake Michigan.
Later on, I came to the Beach House Blowout, which is much easier to observe than the Furnessville Blowout. As I walked along the ridge, I was able to see thousands of treetops looking all the way south. From there, the trail had a quick and steep descent. It was back to a relatively flat forest trail until the end.
Trail #10 is rated moderate and is 5.5 miles long. It runs about 2.5 miles along the beach and the rest through the forest. I picked it up by taking Trail #7 to the beach from the Nature Center, walking the trail in a clockwise direction. It was 2.5 miles of walking on the beach.
There wasn’t much beach to walk on as the waves washed right up to a small ridge along the shore for most of this stretch. It was a windy day and Lake Michigan was very choppy.
The view of the Chicago skyline in the distance was one of the highlights of this part of the trail, as well as passing a few blowouts along the way.
After the long walk on the beach, the trail cuts back into the forest through a gorgeous stretch called Paradise Valley. It then turns into a boardwalk passing several colorful flowers.
The final part of the hike goes through an area called The Pinery, but strangely, there are no pine trees to be seen. There’s also a wooden bird observation deck overlooking a marsh but it was closed for safety purposes.
Trail #8 is a rugged trail that’s 1 ½ miles long and climbs to the top of the three highest sand dunes in the park. Parts of the trail run on 40° slopes. That may not sound bad to some people, but try climbing up in the sand! Make sure you have plenty of energy for this trail. It starts at the Wilson Shelter, but it’s also possible to catch it from near the Nature Center. The trail makes up a part of the 3 Dune Challenge, which you can read about here.
Trail #4 is a trail from the beach to the campground. It climbs up the stairs to Mt. Tom and back down through a black oak forest. I took only a part of the trail. It’s ¾ of a mile long and is rated moderate. It shares part of the trail from the beach with Trail #7.
Trail #7 runs between the beach and the Nature Center. It’s 1.1 miles long and is rated moderate. Like Trail #4, it goes through a black oak forest.
When I get to the other trails, I’ll add them to this post. I’m missing Trails #2, #3. I’m not sure why there isn’t a Trail #1, #5, or #6!