Hike the Cowles Bog Trail, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore



4.4 miles

Elevation Gain

200 ft

Route Type


Added by Elyse Clark

This is a short and simple hike across interesting dune ecosystems to a secluded beach area along Lake Michigan with views of the Chicago skyline in Indiana Dune State Park.

To get to the trailhead parking lot: take Mineral Springs Road towards the community of Dune Acres. Just before you get to the guard shack for the community, turn onto the gravel road to the right - there will be signs indicating Cowles Bog Trail parking. Once parked, walk back towards the Dune Acres guard shack, then cross the road to begin the hike. 

You will walk by a marsh for about 0.2 miles, then cross a new bridge (as of November 2017) across the marsh.  When you reach a trail junction after 0.8 miles, turn right. You'll reach another trail junction after another 0.5 miles (1.3 miles into the hike) - turn right here as well. 

Soon, you will climb a tall sandy dune and emerge out of the woods with views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding scenery/industrial areas.  Take the steep sandy trail down to the beach and spend some time exploring the beach. 

There are two ways to return to your car: (1) take the trail back the exact way you came, or (2) when facing Lake Michigan, walk to the left for 0.2 miles and take the loop trail back.  

For a good map of the area see here: https://www.nps.gov/indu/plany...

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Known for

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking



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Buggy wetlands, beautiful beach

This is a pretty easy trail until you get to the dunes before the beach, then it's a bit of a climb. The beach is very private and beautiful - in my opinion, it's the nicest in the whole park. The bugs in the summer were so bad! We were running away from them! Lots of birds, though, which was awesome.

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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