Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: Little Calumet River

This 3.4-miler tours historic sites in one of Indiana's first settlements and crosses the Little Calumet River floodplain in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
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This 3.4-miler tours historic sites in one of Indiana's first settlements and crosses the Little Calumet River floodplain in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Get a history lesson on this kid-friendly loop through the floodplain of the Little Calumet River. Take time to visit an historic settler cemetery; the Chellberg Farmhouse, a typical Swedish-immigrant family home; and northern Indiana's first non-native residence, the Bailly Homestead. This 3.4-mile loop begins at the old Bailly/Chellberg visitor center (there are restrooms and picnic shelters, but the center, itself has been closed for a few years) and heads north toward the Chellberg family home. Though the farm animals here are visible year-round, kids can help feed the animals on weekend afternoons.
After passing the farm, the trail dips into a wooded ravine and toward an optional quarter-mile out-and-back detour to an old cemetery. From here, the loop continues west and then descends into wooded ravines, passing a winding creek, a restored prairie, and bottomland woods that surround the Little Calumet River and its floodplain. At mile 3, the trail joins the park road briefly and passes through the Bailly Homestead (settled in 1822), which encouraged later immigrant communities in the area. It's a quick, 0.25 miles back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Ted Villaire

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.4

Waypoints

LCR001

Location: 41.624297, -87.089889

The old Bailly/Chellberg visitor center is the start point for this loop. The center itself is no longer open but there are restrooms and picnic shelters here. Take the trail north from here along the top of a 40-foot wooded ravine.

LCR002

Location: 41.6269195, -87.0896101

Kids will love feeding the animals on weekend afternoons at the Chellberg Farm, a living history museum and the oldest non-native residence in northern Indiana. Tour out buildings that chickens, horses, and pigs still call home and take note of the maple sugar house, the National Park Service's only syrup producing location. The brick farmhouse, built in 1885, contains rooms with early 20th century furnishings.

LCR003

Location: 41.6281785, -87.0897925

A series of wooden stairs and bridges traverses a lovely wooded ravine carved by a winding stream.

LCR004

Location: 41.6294617, -87.0914447

Turn right at 3-way junction for a 0.5 mile out-and-back to the Bailly Cemetery. Just after the right-hand turn, cross Oak Hill Road and continue on the trail.

LCR005

Location: 41.6324528, -87.0914662

Visit the graves of early area settlers. Archaeologists say this cemetery was built on top of a much older burial ground predating European settlement. After a quick look-see, return to Waypoint 4 and bear right.

LCR007

Location: 41.6280251, -87.0962219

Cross Howe Road.

LCR008

Location: 41.6209606, -87.1054888

Near the loop's southwest corner, a long boardwalk crosses a marshy landscape and bottomland woods. A metal footbridge up ahead spans the Little Calumet River.

LCR009

Location: 41.6186988, -87.1058106

Leave the riparian landscape behind and enter the majestic 120-acre Monke Prairie. In recent years, rehabilitation of the landscape has included removing invasive plants, planting native prairie grasses, and controlled burns.

LCR010

Location: 41.621506, -87.0934725

When you reach this parking area just before mile 3, follow the park road down the hill to your left.

LCR011

Location: 41.6229657, -87.0949423

After crossing the Little Calumet River again on a small bridge, turn right up the hill. The brick road leads to the Bailly Homestead.

LCR012

Location: 41.6237946, -87.0936661

Near the far edge of the homestead, follow the trail to the right for the short hike back to the Bailly/Chellberg visitor center.

Ravine Traverse

Location: 41.6287575, -87.0905609

A series of stairs and boardwalks leads through a small ravine on the loop's northeast corner. © Ted Villaire

Cemetery

Location: 41.6324528, -87.0913696

The upper level of the Bailly Cemetery at the end of the out-and-back segment. © Ted Villaire

Boardwalk

Location: 41.6209446, -87.1052957

This long boardwalk across marshy bottomland precedes the section though the Monke Prairie. © Ted Villaire

Bailly Homestead

Location: 41.6236875, -87.0939875

One of the historic buildings on the Bailly homestead. © Ted Villaire