(Published on - 5/22/2019 10:22:20 PM)
FIVE GREAT PARKS FOR A DAY TRIP
It looks like Mother Nature's Jekyl & Hyde attitude this spring might give us a little break this weekend. With warmer and hopefully drier weather forecasted for Memorial Day Weekend, it's time to get outside!
One of my passions outside of real esate is hiking and spending time in the outdoors. Many people underestimate the hiking and outdoor activities Indiana has to offer. I'd like to share with you some of my favorite local spots (in no particular order) to enjoy the outdoors. All of these are great day trip locations and all are within a 2 hour drive of Northwest Indiana.
INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL PARK
Stretching along the southern shore of Lake Michigan is our Nation's 61st and newest National Park. Offering over 50 miles of hiking trails and 15 miles of sandy beach, Indiana Dunes has something for everyone.
To Do: Hiking, biking, horse trails, camping, swimming, birding, boating and Fishing.
Tip: Get there early! This was already a popular park and being designated a National Park earlier this year will only increase its popularity.
My Favorite: Dune Succession Trail. Gives you a little bit of everything from the lake front beach to climbing dunes, forest and great views of the Chicago Skyline on clear days.
INDIANA DUNES STATE PARK
Surrounded by the Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana Dunes State Park is a park within a park. With it's easy access, large beach front and awesome hiking trails, Indiana Dunes State Park is a Region Favorite. You'll enjoy over 2,000 acres of primative forest, awesome views from 200 foot sand dunes and an awesome swimming beach. The beach is a short walk from the parking lot which is great for families. The campground is also very family friendly with easy access to the beach.
To Do: Hiking, swimming, boating, camping, biking, fishing
Tip: Stay late to enjoy a great sunset from the beach. It's also a great place for star gazing after dark.
My Favorite: Trail 8 and the 3 Dune Challenge. Offering great views from the 3 tallest dunes in the park.
TURKEY RUN STATE PARK
About 2 hours straight south on U.S. 41 from Northwest Indiana, is one of Indiana's most popular State Parks, Turkey Run. Upon crossing the suspension bridge from the parking lot, you enter a landscape that most don't know exisits in Indiana. With deep ravines and sandstone cliffs, most people are amazed the first time they explore Turkey Run. With over 17 miles of hiking trails, a family friendly camp ground and canoeing along Sugar Creek, this park is exteemely popular with familes.
To Do: Hiking, camping, canoeing, tubing, horse back riding.
Tip: Get there early and knock out the most popular trails before the crowds and then explore some of the lessor traveled trails.
My Favorite: Trail 3, the Laders. This trail is not for the timid or out of shape. But if you like an adventure, you'll be rewarded on this trail.
Bonus Tip: If you take U.S. 41 to get there. Stop off and check out the Bison at Kankakee Sands Nature Preserve. It's located just north of Morocco on the west side of U.S. 41.
SHADES STATE PARK
Turkey Run's sister park and one of my favorites. Shades State Park offers similar features and great hiking trails like Turkey Run, but it is usualy less crowded.
To Do: Hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, horse trails, fishing
Tip: Do the 6 Ravine Hiking Trail. This is a great hike to enjoy the varied terrain of Shades.
My Favorite: Shades offers a backpack camp site that is only accessible by hiking in. It's a fairly easy 2.5 mile hike to the camp and it's a great introduction to back country camping.
SUPER BONUS TIP: If you take U. S. 41 to get to get to Shades, stop at one of my favorite, secluded and little known hiking spots- Portland Arch. It is the only natural arch in Indiana and the terrain and scenery are beautiful. It offers a moderate 1 mile loop trail with a few elevation gains and some rocky climbs. Looking at the surrounding landscape driving in, you'll be amazed once you get on the trail as it does not fit in with it's surroudings. Take U.S. 41 just south of Attica and follow brown signs to Portland Arch.
Warren Dunes State Park
Ok...I know this is in Michigan but it's one of my favorite Lake Michigan Beaches. Located just over an hour from Northwest indiana and just north of New Buffalo, this is a great family beach. There is a large parking area close to the beach and the beach is huge, offering plenty of space. There are also great hiking trails and large dunes offering great views of the surrounding areas.
To Do: Swimming, boating, fishing, camping, hiking
Tip: Take time to enjoy some of the great restaurants and shops along Red Arrow Highway.
My Favorite: Spectatcular sunsets. Hard to beat on a clear d