These trails offer a great combination of hiking and relaxing at the beach. The trails are varied and encompass many habitats. There are great views from the top of the Dune Succession Trail stairs, a beautiful pinery of jack pines, birding opportunities along Long Lake and secluded sections of forest.
There is a $6.00 per car parking fee from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. There are picnic shelters; some are reservable on www.recreation.gov.
The Tolleston Dunes Trail winds amid 4,700 year-old sand dunes that were formed when Lake Michigan’s water level was 25 feet higher than today. Tolleston is the second youngest of four distinct dune systems found within the national park. Together these dune ridges provide a glimpse into the changing shoreline of Lake Michigan.
Tolleston Dunes has varied habitats ranging from globally rare black oak savanna to wetlands and plants such as prickly pear cactus, butterfly weed, and the wild blue lupine flower (Lupinus perennis) which grows in abundance. Another plant with a large population is the eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa).
This popular location is a great place to view the ever-changing seasons along Lake Michigan and watch dramatic weather and clouds build over the lake. It’s an easy location to watch for migrating birds in the spring and summer, and observe shelf ice that forms along the beach edge in the winter. Visitors can enjoy easy access to the lakefront and trails that highlight dune succession. A 3,500 square foot public pavilion includes restrooms, a seasonal snack bar and a glass walled classroom/meeting space.
No lifeguards. Swim at your own risk; rip currents and large waves can make swimming hazardous.
No lifeguards. Swim at your own risk; rip currents and large waves can make swimming hazardous. The beach is located a quarter mile from the beach. Parking lot fills up very quickly on summer weekends and holidays.
The visitor center is open daily and is staffed with national park rangers and Indiana Dunes Tourism agents. The center, restrooms, and picnic tables are wheelchair accessible. The 100-vehicle parking lot includes bus & RV parking spaces. There are displays showing information about Indiana Dunes National Park, Porter County, and Indiana Dunes State Park. Enjoy the activity room and learn more about the park. Watch two short orientation videos. Shop in the Eastern National bookstore. Pick up brochures about Indiana Dunes National Park and Porter County. Purchase federal park passes.
Hobart Prairie Grove consists of forested ravines and a portion of scenic Lake George, which is part of the Deep River. The Hobart Woodland trail offers views of forest ravines and has an overlook of Lake George.
The Hobart Prairie Grove preserves several habitats including wetlands, prairie remnants, white oak flatlands, and a rare bur oak savanna. At about 300 acres in size, it contains 343 native plants and an abundance of wildlife. This area is also noteworthy because of a unique soil that is made up of at least 70 percent silt and clay with the smaller portions of sand. This type of soil is one of the reasons for the outstanding diversity of life here at Hobart Prairie Grove.
The Heron Rookery Trail follows along a portion of the Little Calumet River that once featured over 100 Great Blue Heron nests. After 60 years of nesting here, the herons have moved on to new nesting grounds. These woods remain alive with dozens of birds including kingfishers, woodpeckers and a wide variety of migrating and nesting warblers.
In spring, before the trees leaf out, the woodlands along this trail are blanketed with the most extensive display of spring wildflowers in the national park. Trillium, spring beauties, and Dutchman’s breeches are just a few of the flowers you’ll see along this trail. Most years, the wildflowers peak from late April through mid-May.
A really nice birding hike with views of the largest wetland complex in the Lake Michigan watershed. Flocks of coots, mallards, and wood ducks now glide over the wetland’s surface. Kingfishers, tree swallows, and rusty blackbirds rest during migration. Green herons stalk the shoreline while beaver play in the channels.
The Great Marsh abounds in the diverse animal activity of a healthy wetland ecosystem. During the migration periods, the wetland will be frequented by flocks of ducks and geese. The wading birds like herons and egrets, and the song birds such as warblers and red-winged black birds are abundant.
This extensive trail system features interconnected loops ranging from less than a mile to nearly 15 miles and is popular with hikers, runners, horseback riders and cross-country skiers. In addition to the Glenwood Dunes Trail, the 4.4 mile round trip Dunewood Trace Campground Trail connects the Glenwood Dunes trail system to the National Park’s Dunewood Campground to the east. The 2.6 mile round trip Glenwood Dunes Extension Trail connects the system to the Dune Park South Shore Railroad Station to the west. In the center, the Glenwood Dunes Trail connects to the Calumet Dunes Paved Trail.
Bring a trail map as there are 13 trail junctions. The trail system is accessible from either the Glenwood Dunes Trail or Calumet Dunes Trail parking lots.