Indiana Dunes features "singing sands," but I have not heard them, despite extensive beach walking. The combination of quartz crystals, moisture, pressure and the friction from your feet on the sand can create a clear, ringing sound that can be heard up to 30 feet away. It may occur once a month when conditions are right, according to park officials.
There is more than a bit of history at Indiana Dunes. That includes the Chellberg Family Farmhouse, a brick farmhouse built in 1885 by a Swedish immigrant family after a fire destroyed their wooden farmhouse.
A fur trader, Joseph Bailly, set up a trading post in 1822 along the old Calumet Beach Trail that once connected Chicago and Detroit. U.S. 12 follows that route. His last home survives as a National Historic Landmark. The Bailly Family cemetery dating to 1827 is a half mile north of the homestead.
Getting protection for Indiana Dunes was not easy. There was a failed effort to protect them in 1916. The state park was created in 1923 and the federal park in 1966.
Swimming is permitted at the lakeshore but the park service advises caution because the Lake Michigan waters can be dangerous. High winds and waves can create rip currents, and the lake bottom is uneven and filled with holes.
Lifeguards are on duty only at West Beach. The summer fee is $6 per vehicle.
Camping is available in the lakeshore's 79-unit Dunewood Campground from April 1 to mid-October. Private campgrounds are nearby and the state park offers camping. It has a nature center and 16.5 miles of hiking trails.
The lakeshore offers 45 miles of trails for hiking and bicycling. One of the most rugged is the Cowles Bog Trail that runs 5 miles through high dunes, wetlands and oak savannahs. It is off Mineral Springs Road off U.S. 12. The bog is a National Natural Landmark.
There are three loop trails at West Beach that stretch 3.5 miles: the Dune Succession, Long Lake and West Beach trails. There is a great overlook on the Dune Succession Trail along with 200 wooden steps that ascend the dune's face.
West Beach is the most popular area of the park. You will find fewer people and more solitude farther to the east.
You can also drive past five houses on Lakefront Drive east of the state park. They were part of the Homes of Tomorrow exhibit at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago.
For information on the national lakeshore, call 219-926-7561 or visit http://www.nps.gov/indu. A good place to start your visit is the visitor center at 1215 N. State Route 49, Porter, Ind.
For the state park, call 219-926-1952, http://www.in.gov/dnr. The summer fee is $10 for out-of-state vehicles.
Bob Downing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Climb Mount Baldy at Indiana Dunes
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