Date of Visits: August 14, 2009 (National Monument), October 6, 2019 (National Park)
How we got there: Drove from Chicago. Around an hour from the north side with light traffic.
- Great Marsh Trail – 2.7 mile trail through a large wetland ecosystem.
- Dune Ridge – Hike along a tall, wooded dune with views over wetlands and forests.
- Century of Progress Homes – Five houses that were on display at the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago. After the exhibition closed these examples of “Homes of Tomorrow” were moved to this location by barge.
- Cowles Bog Trail – 4.7 mile loop that begins passes through woods and marshland before climbing over high dunes to the Lake Michigan shore.
- Mt. Baldy – Short but steep hike up a 126′ tall dune. Since our visit in 2009, access has been restricted to visitors accompanied by a ranger due to erosion.
- West Beach – We made a 2.4 mile loop using the Dune Succession and Long Lake Trails. The Dune Succession loop staircase climbs through dunes in various stages of development with great views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline on the horizon.
Tips: This new national park is a bit patchy, so don’t expect the full national park experience here. Residential neighborhoods, steel mills and roads separate natural areas from each other. It’s best to drive to several locations and make short hikes.
Next time: Bike the Calumet Trail. Visit the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm area.