Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton, IN: Trail 9 / Blowouts

The second hike we did at Indiana Dunes State Park had some great views of Lake Michigan.

After we finished the 3 Dune Challenge, we stopped back at the nature center for a water refill and to see what other trails the rangers there suggested. We had a few hours before needing to be in Chicago to have dinner with my brother and his girlfriend. One of the rangers told us that Trail 9 was one of his favorites - you get to be on the ridge with a view of the lake for a long time - and gave us advice for staying on the trail (if not marked, always stay to the right). It is the second longest trail in the park (almost 4 miles) and we decided to try it.

The trailhead starts with trails 8 and 10 from the nature center parking lot, and you should just continue straight until signs tell you otherwise. The first half mile or so is through a mostly flat wooded area called the "dunes oak savanna".

The trail is again mostly sandy, although you are treated to dirt every once in a while in the woods portion. We wore hiking boots for this hike.

I was surprised to see flowers in bloom in the middle of July :)

Eventually you will see an intersection. If you want to go out to the dunes ridge (which I recommend), turn left at the sign.

You will head up for a short time...

It doesn't really matter which path you take, but you'll be heading right to stay on the trail.

The view is pretty great from up here. All along the ridge you can see the dunes and the lake.

Head right (there are no signs) to walk on top of the ridge to stay on the trail.

The trail will lead you down into dune grasses and semi-woodsy areas, and you should just keep following it. The grass is rather sharp on bare legs (at least, on my legs).

About a mile into the hike, you will see the first of two blowouts on the trail. The tree roots are exposed and look pretty cool. This is the Beach House Blowout.

You can see Chicago across the lake from here, too.

Once you are past the first blowout, you will be under shade for the rest of the hike. Remember to stay to the right at any intersections that aren't marked. (Pretty much nothing is marked while out on the dunes.)

The second blowout, Furnessville, is about a mile from the first and cooler.

At this point, 2 miles in, the trail will go back into the woods and you won't see the lake or dunes anymore. (You can check the map at the bottom of the post to see where we are.)

I recommend that you turn around here and go back the way you came, because it's way better than the woods. We didn't know that and continued on. It is so, so buggy - deer flies and mosquitos will be your constant companions. We were miserable for two miles. It was also threatening to storm on us (and did sprinkle a few times, hence few pictures), so we didn't enjoy the walk in the woods very much at all. Save yourself the misery (if here in July, anyway) and just go back on the ridge.

We did see one cool thing on the way back, what looked like a giant dandelion.

Hurrying back, we decided to not take the exact path back on Trail 9 (we don't like out and back trails very much) but instead returned via trail 10. (You can see exactly where we hopped over on the map below.) This actually added about a quarter mile to the hike, but we did see different trees than we did before through the "dunes oak savanna".

You will be incredibly sandy after this hike. And bug-bitten if you went through the woods section. It took us an hour and 40 minutes to go four miles (we picked up the pace for the last two miles - rain and bugs are not fun while hiking).

The first two miles are the best and I would definitely recommend them. The views of the lake and seeing the blowouts are great. Don't do the woods in July.

Here is the map from the state park, with our route highlighted in yellow. I tried to show our path with arrows:

Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton, IN: Trail 9 / Blowouts Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton, IN: Trail 9 / Blowouts Reviewed by Maria on 10:00:00 AM Rating: 5

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