The trail follows the South Shore Railroad tracks and NIPSCO power lines. There is no shade. The trail can be impassible (i.e. wet shoes) due to standing water along much of the trail that can be 4-6″ deep in spots. The gravel trail is not suitable for road bikes.
The Beach Trail hike is a short hike with a steep climb down loose sand to the beach. Be sure to plan accordingly as the only way out is up the steep trail. Do not bring a large cooler or other large beach items as the climb up from the beach is difficult. The sweeping views of Lake Michigan are fantastic.
The trail winds through mature beech and maple forest as you hike over the undulating moraine topology formed at the end of the last ice age, approximately 15,000 years ago. There is a nice view of the bog near the south end of the loop.
The Paul H. Douglas Center has restrooms, picnic tables, and wetland boardwalk that are all wheelchair accessible. There are displays showing information about Indiana Dunes National Park. Hike the incredible Paul H. Douglas (Miller Woods) trail system. Families can enjoy the Nature Play Zone. Use the picnic table area to have a bite. There is an indoor Activities Room with games, crafts, books, and art supplies!
The center and trail are named after U.S. Senator Paul H. Douglas from Illinois, who was instrumental in the creation of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966 (renamed Indiana Dunes National Park in 2019).
The picnic shelters are located on the north side U.S. Highway 12, approximately 1/2 mile east of State Road 49 and the Dune Park South Shore train station. There are two entrances that are 50 yards apart. Restrooms are open seasonally.