“A great trail to see all that the dunes offer from stunning views to diverse habitats and wildlife.”
— Rafi Wilkinson
Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Close to the beach, and an easy route for children with good opportunities to view wildlife. Great overlook of the marsh habitat.
Open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. No bicycles or motorized vehicles allowed. Stay on the trail to protect the wildlife and yourself.
The 0.7 mile Dune Ridge Trail
highlights the great views of the extensive wetlands and forests south of this tall forested dune. The different habitats you'll see along the trail help make Indiana Dunes National Park one of the most botanically diverse of all the National Parks.
Average Hike Time 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Need to Know
Free parking and access. Seasonal restrooms and potable water are available from mid-April through mid-November at the parking lot. The trail is not accessible to wheelchairs. The parking lot has 81 spots and will fill up on summer weekends. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves, and tuck long pants into socks to avoid ticks and poison ivy.
The featured hike is a lollipop shaped trail. From the parking lot trailhead, head south with a short tour through a foredune complex on sandy soil. It transitions into an oak savanna with a more stable soil structure, which provides better footing. At the junction with the loop trail, turn left to hike the loop in the clockwise direction. The loop starts on an old roadbed and you'll need to turn right to leave the wide road onto a sandy singletrack trail. The trail will climb to the top of the dune offering sweeping views of the Great Marsh. Follow the trail along the ridge line before hiking down a steep section of loose sand. The trail will wind back to the loop junction. At the junction, turn left and follow the trail north to the parking lot.
Flora & Fauna
Perhaps no other area in the national lakeshore will take you through as many diverse habitats in a 0.7 mile loop trail. Begin your habitat adventure by following the trail located in the southeast corner of the parking lot through the foredune habitat. Foredunes contain many pioneer plants such as marram and little bluestem grasses and cottonwood trees. These plants are specially adapted to live in the dunes where moving sand sometimes partially buries or uncovers plant stems and roots. Although those grasses may seem hearty, they may die when stepped upon. Able to withstand battering by sand and wind, grasses will eventually succumb to the shade of taller plants providing the necessary soil for the oak forest that lies ahead.
History & Background
Indiana Dunes National Park (formerly national lakeshore) was established to preserve portions of the Indiana Dunes and other areas of scenic, scientific, historic and recreational value. Up to two million annual visitors enjoy the park's 15,000 acres of wetlands, prairies, sand dunes, oak savannas, forests, and historic sites. The park's 15 miles of beaches hug the southern shore of Lake Michigan from Gary, IN, to Michigan City, IN. For more information, visit nps.gov/indu/index.htm
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