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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

April 5, 2012

During our spring road trip, besides visiting Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio, we also stopped at the Indiana Dunes. We arrived in Chesterton, IN around 4pm and stayed overnight in Spring House Inn. M had stayed there in the 90's with his parents and had fond memories of the place. The inn, according to M, had not changed since he was last there. He gave me a quick tour and we then drove to the lake to see the dunes. 

The area surrounding the dunes was a marsh and various communities sprouted in the woods adjacent to the dunes. The Great Marsh had some maintained trails but we did not hike them as we were running out of time and daylight. Instead, we drove down Wabash Ave. which was next to the Dune Acres community before parking in the lot at the end of the road. The unruly wind made the waves gray and choppy and kept us from feeling any of the sun's warmth. We walked east on the soft sand, for about 1400 ft, toward the abandoned pavilion/beach house. We explored the faded, dilapidated structure before leaving to trek up the Dune Ridge Trail. After we descended from the trail, we retraced our steps back to the car and drove to Mt. Baldy on the far east end of the lakeshore.

We drove down Beverly Road alongside the marsh and then arrived at the parking lot for the Mount Baldy trailhead. Mt. Baldy was a looming sand monster, eating 30 ft tall trees that stood in its path with nothing to stop it except a small wire fence. The wind was and has been pushing the giant away from Lake Michigan thus causing the NPS to try to preserve this massive moving giant by using tactics like closing old trails and a fence to block the ever shifting dune. 

We started the strenuous sandy hike to the summit of Mt. Baldy around 7:15pm and reached the summit 10 minutes later though it felt much longer than that. The view from the top was well worth the climb but we did not dawdle for too long as the area closed at sunset.  As we drove back to our hotel, we were able to get some fantastically colorful pictures of the sun setting on Lake Michigan. The dunes were serenely beautiful in the winter, with no crowds to congest the beaches thus making this trip extra delightful. It was peaceful, majestic, and more than we could have asked for.

Hikes are highlighted in purple

Indiana Dunes

Lake Michigan,  Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Gary, IN in the distance

Me and M

Pavilion/beach house

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Beautiful and desolate

Pavilion/beach house

View from pavilion/beach house

Inside pavilion/beach house

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Dune Ridge Trail

High on top of Dune Ridge Trail

Woods on top of Dune Ridge Trail

Descending from Dune Ridge Trail to the beach


Chicago in the distance, across Lake Michigan

Hiking back to the car

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Mount Baldy overtaking trees

Summit of Mount Baldy

Old power plant next to Mount Baldy

Deer in the woods/marsh next to the lakeshore

Great Marsh surrounding the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Chicago again

Pond in Great Marsh outside of  Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore 

Sunset on the beaches of  Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore 

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