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The Dunes Region

Discovery Trail Guide

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Visitors from beyond the state of Indiana are often surprised to discover that Indiana not only has coastline, but that its coast is on Lake Michigan, the fifth largest freshwater lake in the world! And among visitors fortunate enough to know about this shoreline, many know it only for its beautiful beaches.

But just beyond the beach lie the some of the world's largest lakeshore dunes, including Mount Baldy, a 125-foot "living dune." Come visit and find out what sets a living dune apart from other dunes. Walk among native wild lupines blooming along the Inland Marsh Trail at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore-and perhaps spot rare Karner blue butterflies sipping nectar from their flowers. Visit one of the Dunes Region's many historic sites and museums. Explore the grounds of the beautiful Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve, or watch for shorebirds and waterfowl along one of the many lakeshore beaches.

In the Dunes Region of the Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail, you'll find 29 great sites to explore. Learn more about them below. For the Dunes Region itinerary suggestions, click here.

Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm

Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm

These two historic sites sit nearly side-by-side within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Honore Gratien Joseph Bailly de Messein, the first known non-native resident of northwest Indiana, set up a fur trading post here in 1822. The main house has been restored to its 1917 appearance and is ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Beverly Shores Museum & Art Gallery

Beverly Shores Museum & Art Gallery

This tiny, pink stucco museum pays homage to the town’s history and groundbreaking architecture. It’s also the spot where you can catch the only inter-urban train line in Indiana Dunes Country. While you’re waiting for your train, check out the intimate gallery—an ever-rotating display ... More

T: 219-878-1517 

Brincka-Cross Gardens

Brincka-Cross Gardens

Beautiful Brincka-Cross Gardens opened to the public for the first time in 2010. William Brincka, professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, put his artistry to work when he designed the 3.9 acres of gardens on this 25-acre site. The gardens hold 40 varieties of magnolias and 40 varieties of ... More

T: 219-465-3586 

Calumet Bike Trail

Calumet Bike Trail

Bike, hike, or ski this 9.1- mile gravel trail, which skirts the southern boundaries of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park from Cowles Bog to Mount Baldy. Prairie habitat lines the trail, and late-summer wildflowers—like cardinal flowers, blazing stars, asters, ... More

T: 219-465-3586 | W: View Website

Central Avenue Beach Access

Central Avenue Beach Access

During the spring and summer, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's shoreline near Central Avenue is a great place to watch bank swallows flying to and from their nest burrows in the dunes. Spring and fall offer great shorebird and waterfowl viewing. Just past the gate on the entrance road, you'll ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Century of Progress Homes

Century of Progress Homes

With the theme of a "Century of Progress," these houses were built for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair to demonstrate modern architectural design and new technologies such as central air conditioning and dishwashers. Real estate developer Robert Bartlett brought the houses to the dunes by barge in ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Chesterton Bandstand & Historic Business District

Chesterton Bandstand & Historic Business District

Don't miss the chance to explore the charming community Chesterton. After a major fire in 1902, townspeople rebuilt the downtown in brick, and this attractive business district is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Every Saturday from late May to late October, the downtown hosts a ... More

T: 219-926-1641 | W: View Website

Coffee Creek Park

Coffee Creek Park

Located next to the historic Chesterton business district, Coffee Creek Park protects a small lovely oasis of natural habitat—a good place to view wildlife or take the kids to enjoy the playground. A boardwalk trail passes through songbird-rich riparian woodlands that border Coffee Creek and ... More

T: 219-926-3000 | W: View Website

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

This beautiful 167-acre preserve showcases an inspiring and aesthetically stunning marriage of nature and culture. The natural landscape includes a mix of restored prairie, creek, wetlands, and woodlands. Preserve planners have added human infrastructure to that natural setting and have done so ... More

T: 219-926-1842  | E: info@coffeecreekwc.org | W: View Website

Countryside Park and Alton Goin Museum

Countryside Park and Alton Goin Museum

Located in Countryside Park and operated by the Portage Community Historical Society, the Alton Goin Historical Museum houses many artifacts from the Portage region. In it, you'll find such exhibits as a miniature model replica of parts of the city, Indian artifacts and reproduced clothing, one ... More

T: 219-762-8349 | W: View Website

Cowles Bog

Cowles Bog

Don't miss the chance to see Cowles Bog, one of the great natural areas in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Remnant of a once-widespread wetland system, Cowles Bog encompasses a marsh surrounding a small fen, where a stand of tamaracks and white pines grows on a floating mat of peat moss. ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Deer Trail Park

Deer Trail Park

This small park, opened in 2007, offers many recreational activities, including hiking, cross-country skiing, and fishing on the Little Calumet River. The City of Portage Park Department did extensive restoration work at this site, removing non-native plants from the forest understory. Along the ... More

T: 219-762-1675 | W: View Website

Gibson Woods Nature Preserve

Gibson Woods Nature Preserve

Thousands of years ago, as Glacial Lake Chicago slowly shrank in size (eventually occupying the present-day footprint of Lake Michigan), it left behind a series of dunes and swales lying parallel to today’s lakeshore. Though development has obliterated much of this dune-and-swale topography, 13... More

T: 219-769-7275 | W: View Website

Glenwood Dune Trail (formerly Ly-co-ki-we)

Glenwood Dune Trail (formerly Ly-co-ki-we)

Formerly called “Ly-co-ki-we” which is said to mean “sandy ground” in the Miami Indian language, you can guess what you’ll encounter on this 6.4-mile trail. Several cutoff trails offer shorter loop alternatives. The main trail crosses ancient beach dunes, which mark the shores of an ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird Sanctuary

Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird Sanctuary

Though just 16 acres in size and surrounded by industry, the park provides a critical stopover for neotropical migrant birds, which funnel through the Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird Sanctuary in astonishing numbers. That’s why birders have long referred to this site as “The Migrant Trap.” ... More

T: 219-659-7841 | W: View Website

Hawthorne Park

Hawthorne Park

Hawthorne Park offers a peaceful, well-maintained place to stop, stretch, and enjoy a picnic. In the developed portion of the park, you'll find picnic shelters, sports fields, playground, and a community center. The park borders a riparian woodland, through which the Little Calumet River ... More

T: 219-921-1687 | W: View Website

Heron Rookery trail

Heron Rookery trail

For more than 60 years, herons nested here along Little Calumet River. Though the heron rookery is no longer active, the 1.6-mile trail is a good spot for viewing other bird species. The oak savanna habitat near the abandoned rookery is also home to Karner blue butterflies, federally listed as ... More

T: 219-926-7561 | W: View Website

Imagination Glen Park

Imagination Glen Park

The largest park in the Portage Park system, 256-acre Imagination Glen Park is home to softball and soccer complexes, a BMX race track, and the 10-mile Outback Mountain Bike Trail. Woodlands cover much of the property, with Salt Creek meandering through the center. The park contains several rare ... More

T: 219-762-1675 | W: View Website

Indiana Dunes State Park

Indiana Dunes State Park

While thoughts of sunbathing and swimming in Lake Michigan might first lure you to this beautiful state park, there's so much more to do at Indiana Dunes State Park. The park encompasses 2,182 acres of beach, dunes, marshes, swamps, hardwood forests, and white pine groves. These varied habitats ... More

T: 219-926-1952 | W: View Website

Inland Marsh Trail (Tolleston Dunes Trail)

Inland Marsh Trail (Tolleston Dunes Trail)

In just 2.6 miles, this trail in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore traverses a number of different, beautiful, and wildlife-rich habitats, including black oak savanna, Tolleston Dunes, and remnants of the Great Marsh. Black oak savanna along the trail hosts plenty of wild lupine—the sole ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Lake View Picnic Area

Lake View Picnic Area

While Lake View can be filled with beach-goers in summer, it’s a good place to picnic and watch for birds in spring and fall. Ducks, loons, grebes, jaegers, and gulls regularly gather along the lakeshore during migratory seasons. The National Audubon Society has designated the area between the ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Little Calumet River Trail

Little Calumet River Trail

The Little Calumet Trail, located in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, is part of a 3.9-mile network of hiking trails that connect the Bailly Homestead, Chellberg Farm, and the Dunes Learning Center. Pick up a trail map at the trailhead or the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center to guide ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Marquette Park

Marquette Park

In 1921, the United States Steel Corporation donated lakefront lands along Gary's eastern boundary to the City to provide recreational access to Lake Michigan. The Gary Parks Department developed this area into the first lakefront park in Lake County. In 1932, Lakefront Park was renamed ... More

T: 219-866-7099 | W: View Website

Miller Woods

Miller Woods

Birders consider this 75-acre natural oasis amid the industry and urban environs of Gary among the best birding sites in the region. Black oaks dominate savanna woodlands that are home to 287 recorded species of plants and animals, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. ... More

T: 219-926-7561 | W: View Website

Mount Baldy

Mount Baldy

THIS SITE IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED. At roughly 125 feet tall, Mount Baldy is the largest "living" dune in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. As the dune moves, it buries everything in its path, including trees. Over the last several years, park officials at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore have ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Port of Indiana: Burns Harbor

Port of Indiana: Burns Harbor

Why include a major industrial site among the best cultural and natural sites in the Beyond the Beach region? Because this site offers a captivating look at both the nature and culture of this region. Twelve steel processors dominate the port landscape, and the site’s protected waters attract ... More

T: 219-787-8636 | W: View Website

Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

Formerly an industrial site for National Steel, this 57-acre lakefront site opened in 2008. Managed jointly by the National Park Service and the City of Portage, this area of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore features an enclosed pavilion with an educational classroom, kitchens and restrooms, an ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Porter Beach Area

Porter Beach Area

Porter Beach area is a good place to watch raptor migration. In March and April, hawks, especially buteos, fly north over the Midwest, riding balmy southerly winds. These soaring raptors avoid flying over large bodies of water, so when they reach Lake Michigan, they follow the shoreline. Thus, ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

West Beach

West Beach

Most of West Beach's Dune Succession Trail follows a boardwalk, so you can experience the dunes without struggling through sand (although you’ll encounter 250 stairs!). As its name suggests, this 0.9-mile long trail is a great place to see ecological succession—from bare beach to wooded dune... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Westchester Township History Museum

Westchester Township History Museum

Victorian era gardens welcome visitors to the elegant 1885 Brown Mansion, which houses the works of Northern Porter County artists and exhibits that detail the history of the area and saving the Indiana Dunes. Don't miss the exhibit that tells the story of the Prairie Club, one of the nation's ... More

T: 219-983-9715  | E: museum@wpl.lib.in.us | W: View Website

Woodland Park

Woodland Park

This 64-acre park offers good wildlife viewing in a suburban setting. Crabapple trees draw cedar waxwings. Mature oaks shelter small mammals and songbirds, and native wildflowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and songbirds. A paved trail leads through restored oak savanna forest, and ... More

T: 219-762-1675 | W: View Website