|Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in early April|
Its not often that you are able to easily access National Park lands by public transit. This is of course due to the fact that most National Park areas are deep in the wilderness. Nevertheless, there are several noteworthy areas which are accessible from massive cities and the Indiana Dunes are one of them. We actually ended up taking the South Shore Line right into the middle of the Park and got off the train at Dune Station. The Ogden Dunes and Beverly Shores stations on the South Shore Line also are within walking distance of the park
|Some of the largest dunes on the Great Lakes are preserved here|
The Dunes are managed as local, state and federal lands. Much of the groundwork was done by locals and the area is both a State Park and a National Park. I was surprised to see how large the area actually was. It would probably take several days of hiking and exploring to really see everything. As for us, we were content with walking along the beach and exploring the highest dunes at the State Park just off the Dune Park Stop.
|Classic Indiana Hiking|
Inevitably I am drawn to climb the highest dunes in the park and this was not too difficult. Here is a trail map. There's something like 25 miles worth of hiking in this state park area and some of the hikes are challenging considering there's less than 200 feet of real elevation gain. Our jaunt took us up the "summit" of Mt Tom which is 192' above lake-level (which is 769' above sea-level). The summit was steep and a sandy hike to get to but there were substantial views at the top. I was impressed.
|Summit of Mt Tom|
|Sandy trail up to the summit from the beach|
Back down to the beaches, it was nice to sit and relax for a while. Across the lake Chicago could be seen in the distance as well as the shores of Indiana and Michigan. I imagine the sunsets and sunrises here are also pretty!
|Small rivers and brooks are all throughout the park|
|Wish I could have seen a sunrise or a sunset!|
II'm continually impressed by the outdoor adventure opportunities of the Midwest in general. Indiana Dunes was a nice respite from the city but in my travels around all the Great Lakes States and heartlands, I've found there to be limitless opportunities for exploration. While there are some obvious and well-know adventures in Minnesota and the shores of Lake Superior, I seem to keep finding places like Indiana Dunes and the Baraboo Range of Wisconsin which challenge the idea that the Midwest is flat, dull and uninteresting. I'm looking forward to future opportunities to explore more of the area.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!