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Heron Rookery Trail

Easy/Intermediate
 3.7 (6) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A river trail featuring some of the very best spring wildflowers in the region.


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Map Key

3.3

Miles

5.2

KM

Loop

648' 197 m

High

641' 195 m

Low

12' 4 m

Up

12' 4 m

Down

0%

Avg Grade (0°)

1%

Max Grade (0°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · River/Creek · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Easy flat trail with quick access to wildflowers, birding and spawning fish.

Open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. No bicycles or motorized vehicles allowed. Stay on the trail to protect wildlife and yourself. Pets are permitted on a leash (6' or shorter).

Overview

This trail features some of the very best spring wildflowers in the region from late March until early June. Birding is also excellent on this trail, particularly during the spring and fall migrations. This trail could easily be ranked a 5 during the spring wildflower season.

Need to Know

Free parking and access. There are no restroom facilities or potable water source. This trail is not wheelchair accessible. Mosquitoes are abundant along this trail during the summer. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves, and tuck long pants into socks to avoid ticks and poison ivy.

There are parking lots on the east and west ends of the trail. The east lot holds 20 cars and is large enough for buses & RV's to back up, turn around, and park. The west lot is very small with room for only 4 cars.

Description

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.

The trail surface is mostly packed dirt and clay. The clay makes this trail very slippery when wet. Wear adequate footwear. The trail length is 3.3 miles for a round trip hike from one parking lot to the other and back.

Flora & Fauna

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 lakeshore. Trillium, spring beauties, and dutchman's breeches are just a few of the flowers you'll see along this trail.

Fishing is also popular during the spring and fall when salmon and trout are making their spawning runs from Lake Michigan into the Little Calumet River. Indiana state fishing regulations apply.

History & Background

The Heron Rookery was so named because Great Blue Herons in the past had developed a "rookery" with over 100 nests.

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 or facebook.com/IndianaDunesNPS.

Contacts

Shared By:

Rafi Wilkinson

Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 6 votes

#3949

Overall
  3.7 from 6 votes
5 Star
17%
4 Star
50%
3 Star
17%
2 Star
17%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#28

in Indiana

#3,949

Overall
22 Views Last Month
762 Since Dec 17, 2015
Easy/Intermediate

50%
0%
50%
0%
0%
0%

Photos

Dutchman
Dec 21, 2015 near Beverly…, IN
Trillium are everywhere!
Dec 21, 2015 near Beverly…, IN
Taking a break and enjoying the views.
Dec 21, 2015 near Beverly…, IN
The forest floor comes alive during wildflower season.
Dec 21, 2015 near Beverly…, IN
The Calumet River at the western end of the Heron Rookery Trail trickles peacefully in the afternoon sun.
May 29, 2017 near Beverly…, IN
Dense undergrowth surrounds the Heron Rookery Trail in May, surrounding the visitors with wildflowers.
May 29, 2017 near Beverly…, IN

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 13 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Jun 20, 2020
Debbie Clark
1.7mi
Apr 24, 2020
Cathy Slusher Buhring
Feb 2, 2020
Debbie Clark
Aug 31, 2019
Steve Clark
4h 00m
Jul 18, 2019
Liz Tittrington
Lots of mosquitoes and plants seemed to be growing over the trail 1mi
Jun 29, 2019
Cynthia Shank
Mar 28, 2019
Anne Muntean
Late Spring this year, no wildflowers yet. 3.3mi — 1h 45m
Aug 17, 2017
lober face