Hike the 3 Dune Challenge



1.5 miles

Elevation Gain

552 ft

Route Type


Added by Jake McKinney

Scramble up the 3 largest sand dunes in Indiana Dunes State Park, each over 175 feet tall, for enhanced views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

Start at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center (the first exit off the roundabout in the park after the toll), after receiving your park map, and follow the 3 dune challenge. This challenge, looping trails 8 and 4, involves climbing to the top of Mt. Jackson (176 feet), Mt. Holden (184 feet), and Mt. Tom (192 feet). If you do not receive a map, ask one of the park attendants, or follow the paths to the large dunes of sand towering over the beach. There are shortcuts back to the Nature Center throughout the trail if time is short or the length is too long. While hiking (or running) up these dunes aren't easy, they're worth the effort-and plus going down is much more fun than up! At the top of these dunes, and throughout the park, be sure to look across the water to find the Chicago skyline, which can sometimes be hard to see because of the distance across the lake, but is for the most part easy to find. After completion be sure to head back to the visitor center to buy a sweatshirt or t-shirt saying you completed the challenge or tag @indianadunes on social media. 

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Known for

Easy Parking
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Awesome Challenge and Views

I loved visiting this park and completing this challenge while in Indiana for an internship. The dunes are fairly high and are a tough, sandy climb - be sure to hydrate well and be prepared for a workout! The views from the top are worth the effort. It would be a good hike on its own, but the challenge makes it even more fun! When I completed it, the visitor center even awarded me with a free sticker to display the accomplishment!

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