Birding · River/Creek · Wildflowers
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 permitted on a leash (6' or shorter).
This trail features some of the very best spring wildflowers in the region from late March until early June. Birding is also excellent on this trail, particularly during the spring and fall migrations. This trail could easily be ranked a 5 during the spring wildflower season.
Need to Know
Free parking and access. There are no restroom facilities or potable water source. This trail is not wheelchair accessible. Mosquitoes are abundant along this trail during the summer. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves, and tuck long pants into socks to avoid ticks and poison ivy.
There are parking lots on the east and west ends of the trail. The east lot holds 20 cars and is large enough for buses & RV's to back up, turn around, and park. The west lot is very small with room for only 4 cars.
The Heron Rookery Trail follows along a portion of the Little Calumet River that once featured over 100 Great Blue Heron nests. After 60 years of nesting here, the herons have moved on to new nesting grounds. These woods remain alive with dozens of birds including kingfishers, woodpeckers and a wide variety of migrating and nesting warblers.
The trail surface is mostly packed dirt and clay. The clay makes this trail very slippery when wet. Wear adequate footwear. The trail length is 3.3 miles for a round trip run from one parking lot to the other and back.
Flora & Fauna
In spring, before the trees leaf out, the woodlands along this trail are blanketed with the most extensive display of spring wildflowers in the national lakeshore. Trillium, spring beauties, and dutchman's breeches are just a few of the flowers you'll see along this trail.
Fishing is also popular during the spring and fall when salmon and trout are making their spawning runs from Lake Michigan into the Little Calumet River. Indiana state fishing regulations apply.
History & Background
The Heron Rookery was so named because Great Blue Herons in the past had developed a "rookery" with over 100 nests.
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
Shared By: Rafi Wilkinson