Re-Opening of Mt. Baldy – A Few Things to Know
This post was contributed by our Community Engagement Director, Brooke Allen.
I’ve worked at Indiana Dunes Tourism for about a year and half, which means that in the entire time I’ve been employed here, I’ve never been to Mt. Baldy. This part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was closed to the general public a few years ago due to a safety incident, so I’ve never seen this particular spot.
Earlier this summer, the beach at Mt. Baldy re-opened. I figured I better check it out. We’ll call it “work.” Whether it’s been years since you’ve been to Mt. Baldy or you’ve never been at all, here are six things I discovered that you might want to know if you go for a visit.
1. The view is awesome.
I mean, seriously, look at the view from the day I went!
2. The dune is still closed, but the beach is open.
This is probably the most important part. Mt. Baldy and it’s fragile nature are still being investigated. Researchers continue to study this dune that moves four feet every year. So don’t show up ready to scale the dune. And PLEASE remember, the dune is closed for your safety; stay on the marked trail. If you just can’t help your Mt. Baldy climbing fever, you can sign up for ranger-led hikes by calling NPS at the Visitor Center. This is the safe way to experience Mt. Baldy and it’s views of Lake Michigan.
3. It’s a hike to the beach.
I learned that there is a .56 mile hike down to the water. If you don’t know this before you start walking, it’s quite the trek. There are a couple of inclines, and the hike is mostly packed dirt until the sandy hill down to the beach. It was long enough that I was glad I didn’t drag along a cooler and beach chair. But I give credit to the folks who did! If you’re traveling with a lot of gear or little kiddos, you might consider one of the other many beaches that have an easier walk to the water. If you need a wheelchair-friendly adventure, check out this link. Overall, I loved the hike; it was just enough for a feel-good sweat but not too much to make me miserable.
4. There are some amenities before you hit the trail.
I arrived at 4 pm on a Friday in summer and there was plenty of parking available. Restrooms are located right next to the parking lot, and there is a place to wash the sand off your feet. There’s a bicycle rack, a couple picnic tables, and a map of the area. Just off the parking lot, there is also a small picnic shelter with two tables. I like that this spot feels more secluded than the busier beaches, but that it still has a few “luxuries.”
5. No, that’s not a nuclear reactor in the background.
It’s a question/comment that I see pop up a lot on social media. That structure in the background is a cooling tower for the NIPSCO power plant. The Indiana Dunes area has a really interesting history when it comes to the combination of nature and industry existing side by side. Like did you know that the power plant was once the site of the tallest dune, Hoosier Slide? Back in the day, the sand was shipped out to make glass, leaving the dunes of the 3 Dune Challenge the tallest today.
6. You can still be in awe of it’s size!
Look at that thing! How does sand pile this high?! I mean, I know the science behind how it happens, but it’s still really cool and sort of hard to believe. My only regret from my trip is that someone wasn’t with me to take my picture. I love the way the sand stretches to the sky. It’s a different sight compared to any other part of the Indiana Dunes.
So put on your walking shoes, whether they’re hiking boots or flip-flops. I give a trip to Mt. Baldy two thumbs up.