What to Expect
The parking lot sits between the trailheads of the Upland Trail and Pinhook Bog Trail. The bog portion of Pinhook Bog Trail is only accessible via ranger-led tours.
Pinhook Bog Trail
The Bog Trail is a carefully monitored one-mile hike, including a floating boardwalk over the sphagnum moss. The bog is a depression in the moraine created when a large piece of ice broke off the melting glacier and features an incredible habitat with unique plants. Hours are limited to protect this fragile habitat, so be sure to plan ahead.
This two-mile trail winds its way beneath beech and maple trees as it follows the dips and swells of the 15,000-year-old moraine, the ridges of earth and stone left behind by the receding glaciers. As it climbs, the trail offers a marvelous view of the bog below.
Visitors must stay on designated trails at all times. We have created a video to help you learn about your role in enjoying the dunes area safely while minimizing your impact on the park.
The Geological Story of Pinhook Bog
Thousands of years ago, mighty glaciers advanced and receded across the Midwest. They carved the rolling hills of moraines, ground stone into sand, and eventually melted and formed the great lakes. Pinhook Bog was formed when a piece of these icy giants broke free and melted right here in what is today northwest Indiana. Its waters created a lake whose bed was sealed tightly with clay-like “glacial till,” the sediment left behind by the receding glaciers. With no springs, rivers, or streams to replenish the lake, rainfall or melting snow became the only available sources of fresh water. In these stagnant conditions, organic matter decomposed here over thousands of years and slowly filled the lake, depleting the oxygen and making the water highly acidic. This, in turn, slowed the process of decay and rendered the bog a prehistoric time capsule, preserving pollen and other relics deep in these murky waters. In time, the bog will fill completely and become solid ground.
An Interesting Pair
Staying on the trail helps visitors avoid the painful hairs of the Stinging Nettle plant. Its acidic sting uses the same chemical used in painful ant bites. Thankfully, there’s often a remedy close by called Jewelweed. The crushed stem of this plant soothes the irritated skin.
Since all the plants and animals in Pinhook Bog are federally protected, you’ll need to wear appropriate jeans or pants to avoid the sting altogether.
How to Help
We are all responsible for protecting our parks for future generations. The Indiana Dunes, as a whole, is one of he most biodiverse areas in the United States. Here are some tips to help you limit your impact on the natural habitats in the dunes area.