Trail 8 - 3 Dunes Challenge
ElevationAscent: 238' 72 m
Descent: -237' -72 m
High: 724' 221 m
Low: 604' 184 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 10% (6°)
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“The hardest hike in NW Indiana, but totally worth it. Incredible views.”— Rafi Wilkinson
There is an entrance fee to the State Park every day from mid-April through mid-November. Fees are collected on weekends only in the winter. $7 per car for Indiana residents, $12 per car for out of state visitors. $2 walk-in and bike fee.
First up is Mt. Jackson (176 feet). Don't let the small elevation change above the lake fool you. The dune climbs are on open, loose sand. Some people will use their hands for support at times. After climbing down the back of Mt. Jackson, the trail immediately starts up Mt. Holden (184 feet). At the top, veer to the left and avoid the unmarked trail down to the lake. After scrambling down the back of Mt. Holden, cross the junction with Trail 7 to the base of the Mt. Tom stairs (Note that Trail 4 shares the stairs with Trail 8).
Climb the stairs to the boardwalk at the top. Mt. Tom is the tallest of the Indiana Dunes. Enjoy the long views above the tree canopy. To reach the halfway point, turn right (north) leaving the boardwalk and scramble down to Lake Michigan. Make sure you touch the water.
For the those with enough stamina, double back over all three dunes. For those looking for an easier route, combine Trails 4,7, and 8 to reduce the number of dune climbs on the way back.
Visit the State Park's website for information on programs, camping, and other activities.
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Land Manager: Indiana DNR - Indiana Dunes State Park