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Great Marsh Trail

Easy
 4.0 (6) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A great trail that takes you right into the heart of a biologically diverse marsh wetland habitat.


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Map Key

1.7

Miles

2.7

KM

100%

Runnable

609' 186 m

High

601' 183 m

Low

9' 3 m

Up

9' 3 m

Down

0%

Avg Grade (0°)

1%

Max Grade (1°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Wildlife

Free parking and access. Open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. No bicycles or motorized vehicles allowed. Stay on the trail to protect wildlife and yourself. Pets are allowed on a leash (6' or shorter).

Overview

A nice loop around the largest wetland in the Lake Michigan watershed!

Need to Know

There are no restrooms or potable water source.

Description

The Great Marsh is the largest interdunal wetland in the Lake Michigan watershed. It serves as a critical habitat for breeding and migratory birds. This popular trail features an overlook of the marsh where you can spot a wide variety of birds ranging from Great Blue Herons to Sandhill Cranes. While much of the marsh was drained in the early 1900s for residential and agricultural use, the National Park Service began restoration of this portion in 1998.

The trail may be muddy or slippery. Wear adequate footwear. The trail length from the south parking lot around the eastern loop, to the observation deck and back to the south parking lot is 1.7 miles.

A handicap parking spot is provided at the north lot. There is a paved road from this lot to the accessible overlook.

Flora & Fauna

Flocks of coots, mallards, and wood ducks now glide over the wetland's surface. Kingfishers, tree swallows, and rusty blackbirds rest during migration. Green herons stalk the shoreline while beaver play in the channels. The Great Marsh abounds in the diverse animal activity of a healthy wetland ecosystem. During the migration periods, the wetland will be frequented by flocks of ducks and geese. The wading birds like herons and egrets, and the song birds such as warblers and red-winged black birds are again abundant.

The diversity of plants, birds and habitats signifies the return of a healthy wetland ecosystem after decades of neglect. Now restored, the Great Marsh's fens, sedge meadows and wet prairies are again thriving and providing the natural filter to improve the area's water quality.

History & Background

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/index.htm or facebook.com/IndianaDunesNPS.

Contacts

Shared By:

Rafi Wilkinson

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 6 votes

#3107

Overall
  4.0 from 6 votes
5 Star
17%
4 Star
67%
3 Star
17%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#18

in Indiana

#3,107

Overall
21 Views Last Month
1,191 Since Dec 17, 2015
Easy

80%
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Photos

Sunrise on the Great Marsh.
Jan 25, 2016 near Beverly…, IN
Sandhill crane family in the Great Marsh. These birds are so large with the most amazing calls.
Jan 25, 2016 near Beverly…, IN
Great blue heron looking for food.
Jan 19, 2016 near Beverly…, IN
Even in December, the marsh is teeming with life.
Dec 18, 2015 near Beverly…, IN
Wildflowers along the Great Marsh Trail - Indiana Dunes National Park.
Sep 21, 2020 near Beverly…, IN
The marsh overlook on the Great Marsh Trail is an incredible location for birding.
Dec 18, 2015 near Beverly…, IN

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