The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is located in northwest Indiana along the south shore of Lake Michigan. The national lakeshore was established in 1966 and includes 15,000 acres of wetlands, prairies, sand dunes, oak savannas, forests, and historic sites.
West Beach offers approximately 3.5 miles of trails. This includes the Long Lake Loop, that I wrote about previously at “Wandering the Region-The Long Lake Loop”. I also wrote about the West Beach area in January during my last visit. You can check out that post here at “A Walk On the Lake: Lake Michigan In Winter”
West Beach offers three trails:
The Dune Succession Trail (ecological succession) is a 1 mile loop trail that highlights the stages of dune development. It is an incredible and scenic trail that offers a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan from atop a 2,000 year old sand dune.
On a clear day, you can see the the city of Chicago, Illinois in the distance. As you hike along with path (and up some stairs, I promise it’s totally worth it) you will enjoy the shade so generously offered by the Jack Pines, Black Oak Trees and other species. I especially love watching the prairie grass as it sways in the wind.
The West Beach Trail is a more flat and easier 1.4-mile hike through an area that was sand mined in the 1920’s. This area is being restored as an oak savanna and is a great place to see prickly pear cactus. If you checked out my blog post about the Long Lake Loop, I showed a few photographs that included the prickly pear cacti that were technically on the West Beach Trail and were involved in the recent controlled burn.
Lastly, The Long Lake Loop that runs along the south side of West Beach. The loop is 1.5 miles in length and connects to the West Beach Trail Loop. You will pass by the shoreline of Long Lake which is popular for birding, running and offers much more solitude than the busier sections closer to the beach area.
I should mention that West Beach is also close the Marquette Trail. I haven’t ventured down that trail yet so I can’t tell you much about it. Click on the link and check out more information and see what others have had to say. I’ll write about that trail in the future.
Below is a gallery of photographs that I took during my most recent visit to West Beach. I hope that you will check it out.