Hike through a giant sandbox when you descend from the woods above Lake Michigan to the sea of rolling dunes that is Indiana Dunes State Park. This 7-mile loop tops out on Mts. Tom, Holden, and Jackson, each about 190 feet above the shore. You'll also pass wide views of the lake, the Chicago skyline (on clear days), wildflowers, and some of the tallest trees in the region. Reach the trailhead at the nature center within the state park, on IN 49, just north of Chesterton.
drive time: Chicago: 1 hour
guides:Hiking Indiana, by Phil Bloom ($17). Map available free with small park entry fee.
contact: Indiana Dunes State Park, (219) 926-1952; www.state.in.us/dnr/parklake/parks/indianadunes.html