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Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: Ly-Co-Ki-We Trail

in

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 8.6 miles


The gentle dune ridges that you’ll encounter on this hike mark the shores of Lake Michigan some 14,000 years ago. In between the tree-covered ridges are dense woods, shrubby wetlands, and open areas sprinkled with oaks and patches of exposed sand. The distance of this trail and the sandy surface make this an excellent trail for building up your hiking legs. In the spring, be prepared for mud and flooding to overtake small sections of the trail. Multiple junctions appear on this trail: Keep it simple by sticking to the right.

1. Keep to the right at the first junction; enter a hardwood forest scattered with deadfall.
2. Stay right.

3. Near the crossing of Furnessville Road, lightly rolling wooded dunes appear alongside the trail and a couple of wooden boardwalks lead you over marshy areas.
4. Arriving in an open sandy area with small bare dunes on the left, keep right at the junction.
5. Keep right and shadow U.S. Route 12 for a short stretch before crossing Teale Road.
6. Turn right and then climb a small hill topped with a huddle of pine trees. Just ahead, you’ll begin to hike alongside a shrubby wetland that continues alongside the trail for the next few miles.
7. Keep right when you hit the paved trail. Just ahead, turn right to start the 1.8-mile-long Dunewood Trace, an out-an-back trail that leads to the National Lakeshore’s Dunewood Campground.

8. Cross Kemil Road and then pass through open sandy areas bordered by hardwoods. In the open sand, look for the earthstar, a small brownish fungi that opens up into a star with enough moisture in the air and closes into a ball when the air is dry.

9. Wetlands and bottomland woods prevail on this section of the hike. When arriving at County Road 375 East, follow the road to the right for 0.1 miles. Resume the trail on the left. In the open savanna, look for the prickly pear cactuses (the yellow blossoms appear in mid-summer).

10. A series of small ponds and irrigation ditches accompany the trail to the campground road. At the road, turn around and retrace your steps back to the paved path.

11. Back at the paved path, turn right. Keep left as the trail loops around a former a park building. (Restrooms and water are on the right).

12. Stay right and enter familiar terrain with low rolling dunes.

13. Right at the junctions before and after Teale Road. (Again, hike beside U.S. Route 12, which is not overly busy.)

14. Right before crossing Furnessville Road. Wooded dune ridges sometimes give way to gently sloping savannas and open sandy areas. If hiking early or late in the day, you’ll frequently see deer will be scampering off.

15. Left at the Ly-ko-ki-we Extension Trail.

16. Cross County Road 200 East.

17. Stay right at two more junctions on the way back to the parking lot. This final section of the hike is dense with black oak, white oak, tulip, sugar maple trees, and flowering dogwood trees.

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