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Paul H. Douglas Trail

Intermediate
 4.4 (13) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

An incredible trail with oak savanna, interdunal ponds, towering dunes and Lake Michigan.


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Map Key

3.4

Miles

5.5

KM

Out and Back

612' 187 m

High

587' 179 m

Low

46' 14 m

Up

46' 14 m

Down

1%

Avg Grade (0°)

4%

Max Grade (2°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The trail is 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.

Overview

Take the Paul H. Douglas Trail (formerly the Miller Woods Trail) through a globally rare oak savanna. The National Park Service conducts small, carefully controlled burns that mimic historic fires. These fires reduce the growth of woody species and the build-up of leaves on the forest floor. The savannas native grasses and wildflowers, including lupine, thrive in the sunlight and more open forest floor. The wild lupine, the only food for the caterpillar of the endangered Karner blue butterfly, grows close to the trail. Please stay single file on the narrow trail to protect yourself from the abundant poison ivy along the trail edges as well as the fragile lupine habitat.

Need to Know

The main trail is not accessible to wheelchairs. However, there is a short paved trail from the back of the Paul H. Douglas Center that is accessible to wheelchairs. The parking lot has spots for 40 cars and is open daily from 6:00 am - 11:00 pm.

Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves, and tuck long pants into socks to avoid ticks and poison ivy.

There are restroom facilities and potable water available inside the Paul H. Douglas Center. The center is open daily from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend) and from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm for the remainder of the year.

Description

The trail starts at the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education and winds its way around a wetland full of wildlife including beavers. The trail then turns north, featuring beautiful scenery with small interdunal ponds nestled among oak savanna covered dunes teeming with wildflowers in the spring and summer.

Once you cross the bridge over the Grand Calumet River, the landscape changes dramatically into a world of towering sand dunes. The trail winds around and through the dunes all the way the shore of Lake Michigan.

The trail surface is mostly sand with some sections of packed soil, gravel or boardwalk. The round trip trail distance is 3.4 miles. This route will take longer than you think due the loose footing of making your way in the sand.

The trail starts in relative shade but ends in the full sun. Please bring plenty of water, sun protection and dress in layers. The weather on the beach can be dramatically different than in the woods.

History & Background

This trail is a partnership between the National Park Service and the City of Gary, IN.

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 or facebook.com/IndianaDunesNPS.

In 2019, the trail name was changed from the Miller Woods Trail to the Paul H. Douglas Trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Rafi Wilkinson

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 13 votes

#1246

Overall
  4.4 from 13 votes
5 Star
46%
4 Star
46%
3 Star
8%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#8

in Indiana

#1,246

Overall
42 Views Last Month
1,526 Since Dec 17, 2015
Intermediate

18%
0%
64%
0%
18%
0%

Photos

The hike is so worth it!
Jan 7, 2016 near New Chi…, IN
Dunes hike Cowles Bog Trail
Oct 23, 2018 near New Chi…, IN
On the beach during our hike at Cowles Bog Trail
Oct 23, 2018 near New Chi…, IN
Towering sand dunes and interdunal ponds.
Jan 7, 2016 near New Chi…, IN
An interdunal pond with globally rare black oak savanna in the background.
Jan 7, 2016 near New Chi…, IN
Perfect weather to enjoy this nice little trail.
Jul 30, 2017 near New Chi…, IN

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 12 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Aug 17, 2020
John Bruder
3.4mi
Aug 15, 2020
John Bruder
3.4mi
Aug 5, 2020
Peter Z
Did short loop 1mi
Aug 4, 2020
Jaclyn Bormann
Jul 21, 2020
Ami Jester
Wow, so hot! Cool to hike through sand and get to the lake as your reward though 3.4mi
Jul 13, 2020
Ryan Thompson
Jun 12, 2020
Susan Slivka
Jun 4, 2020
Alexa Ross
3.1mi — 1h 29m