Life In the Big Green Jolly

Embrace local. Explore often.

Embrace local.  Explore often.

Indiana Dunes National Park

Sunset over Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Park

We, the land bound, often fantasize about living on the ocean shore. Oh, to hear the sound of the waves lapping upon the sandy beach as we gaze out to the endless watery horizon.

Well, the good news is we can have that experience in the Midwest on any of the Great Lakes. Indiana Dunes National Park is a perfect choice.

I had the pleasure of visiting Indiana Dunes National Park on Lake Michigan. It had the waves, the beaches, the endless horizon. And at sunset – it had the Chicago skyline silhouette.

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan – looks like an ocean

Kemil Beach

Our first beach was Kemil beach off of East State Park Road.  It has a large paved parking lot with restrooms approximately 1/8 of a mile from beach. The beach is accessible via a paved walkway but you can drop off/pick up passengers at beach via the road. 

There are numerous signs instructing visitors to stay off the dunes and other beach rules but beyond that there was no apparent oversight. There are no life guards or beach patrol.

The beach is clean with wide sandy areas and small round gravel at the waterline. It is rumored that at the extreme ends of the beach some people engage in topless sunbathing.  We see nothing of this at the main entrance with many families enjoying the summer day. 

Dune Ridge Trail

Adjacent to the Kemil Beach parking lot hiking trail is the Dune Ridge Trail.

Great Marsh View at Indiana Dunes National Park
Great Marsh View

It is an easy 1-mile through the dune forest with a view of the marsh area.

At the ranger amphitheater, take the trail to the right and traverse the trail loop counterclockwise. Otherwise you risk taking a couple of detours like we did. The trail markings are inadequate but you cannot get lost.

Mount Baldy Beach

The second beach we visited was at Mount Baldy. The summit trail to Mount Baldy is closed but the beach access trail is open. It is about 1/4 mile from the parking lot to the beach. The trail is difficult at the beach end with a significant rise through soft sand.

At the end of the beach access trail, you are then faced with a very difficult descent to the beach through soft dune sand. Which means you will have to climb out when you leave.

Lake Michigan view with Mount Baldy sand dune in foreground
Mount Baldy Beach

The beach itself is secluded and serene. There are few people on this beach because of the access difficulty.

If you are longing for an ocean getaway but can’t afford the time or the expense, then consider Indiana Dunes National Park And Lake Michigan as worthy substitutes.

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