Cowles Bog Trail
ElevationAscent: 202' 62 m
Descent: -202' -62 m
High: 689' 210 m
Low: 587' 179 m
GradeAvg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 15% (9°)
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“A must do trail in the park! Combines wetlands, savannas, dunes and Lake Michigan in one great loop.”— Rafi Wilkinson
Explore several distinct habitats along this 4.7-mile trail including ponds, marshes, swamps, black oak savannas and beaches. Steep sand dunes near Lake Michigan make this a very strenuous journey. Many visitors pack a lunch to enjoy at the shoreline while resting for the return trip (dont forget to pack out your trash). Make sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection.
At roughly the 1.5 mile mark, stay to the right at the junction with the cut-off trail. As you near Lake Michigan, you have to climb up and then down the steep final dune. The reward is sweeping views of Lake Michigan and a beach to yourself. Pack a lunch and stay awhile.
For the return, travel 0.2 miles to the west on the beach and look for the trail and signs to head back over the dune. Stay right at the cut-off trail junction, left at the Greenbelt trail south parking lot connector and right at the loop trail junction. The trail will now take you back out to the north parking lot.
For a slightly shorter and easier journey, take the cut-off trail. This will take a little under a mile off the trail length and avoids the steep dune climbs (but also avoids seeing Lake Michigan).
The Cowles Bog Loop Trail can also be accessed from the south using the Greenbelt Trail at the south parking lot.
Indiana Dunes National Park (formerly national lakeshore) was established to preserve portions of the Indiana Dunes and other areas of scenic, scientific, historic and recreational value. Up to two million annual visitors enjoy the park's 15,000 acres of wetlands, prairies, sand dunes, oak savannas, forests, and historic sites. The park's 15 miles of beaches hug the southern shore of Lake Michigan from Gary, IN, to Michigan City, IN. For more information, visit nps.gov/indu or facebook.com/IndianaDunesNPS.
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Land Manager: NPS - Indiana Dunes National Park