Indiana's Calumet Trail is a nine-mile journey sandwiched between the Indiana Dunes National Park and US Highway 12 that connects the Town of Pines to Dune Acres. Along the trail, you can discover furbulous geological features in and around the Indiana Dunes National Park, including Mount Baldy, a sand dune over 120 feet tall near the Town of Pines, and Cowles Bog, an ancient marshland in Dunes Acres. In between, you'll enjoy a peaceful hiking/biking path that follows US Highway 12 and a light rail line. Cross-country skiers and snowmobilers use the trail in winter, so you could even try your hand at mushing if there are any sled dogs in your pack.
To access the trail on the east side, there are several points. If you want to check out Mount Baldy Beach with your pup, head to the parking area at 402 Sheridan Ave in Michigan City. The beach parking area is less than a mile from the official eastern trailhead. Hiking on Mount Baldy itself is by special permit only, so plan ahead if you want to tackle this mountain adventure. Dogs are welcome on the beach on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Get a splash in or romp in the sand, but save some energy for the long hike ahead. You can take the trail from here by heading down a paved drive that leaves the parking area and travels west. Once over US Highway 12, this becomes the Calumet Trail.
Another way to access the trail is from the official parking area near 2752 U.S. Highway 12. From here, continue down US Highway 12 east. Just past the railroad tracks, there's a parking lot to the left. Once parked, grab all the necessities for a walk, including drinking water to share as there is none available on the trail. Also have clean-up bags, and always pick up whatever your pup leaves behind. Have a towel in your car even if you plan to skip the beach as large puddles can form along the trail near the bog. Head west on the trail through the patch of trees. Highway 12 and local communities are accessible from many points along the trail. The journey still feels peaceful, though, even isolated. Make sure your dog stays on-leash throughout, since deer and other four-legged visitors are also known to hang out on the Calumet Trail.
The only trailside restrooms for the humans are portable toilets in the western trailhead parking area at 1184 North Mineral Springs Road in Dune Acres. This is also near the main developed area of the national park, which you can access from 6 AM to 11 PM. Here, you can also sniff out the Cowles Bog and its Trail System, and the Porter Brickyard Trail, too, which share the parking lot. Bird dogs will enjoy pointing out the plentiful songbirds and shorebirds that live in these lush wetlands.
Need more trail for your insatiable pups? No problem. The Calumet connects to several other hiking routes. That includes the easy Great Marsh Trail and Calumet Dunes Trail, plus the 8-mile Glenwood Dunes Trail and extensive Indiana Dunes State Park trail system, all of which have turn-offs from Calumet.
No bones about it, the Calumet Trail is sure to please your furry adventurer!