Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

As mentioned in last Friday’s post, we stopped at the Indian Dunes National Lakeshore on our way to see the solar eclipse in Nebraska. After stopping at the visitor center (bison sculpture in front) to get a map, we drove to the Dunes Succession Trail which is part of the West Beach Trail System.

The first part of the hike was along a pave path to the beach. We crossed the dune field.

The beach is relatively narrow but it was a sunny warm day and people were enjoying the water. We followed the signs to the trail. The beach got very narrow and the sand was difficult to walk through.

Finally, we got to the trail that headed back into the dunes. Low grass and trees stabilized the sand.

It was still difficult to walk in the sand and it was obvious that sometimes the trail caused erosion of the slopes to the side of it.

There were low areas that looked like meadows and sometimes had wet areas.

The areas of succession (grasses, pines and low shrubs, deciduous trees) would happen again and again on the walk – which got easier after we came to the boardwalk.

Going up stairs is easier than walking in loose sand!

We thought we were at the top of the stairs and turned to take a picture of the Chicago skyline. It was a hazy afternoon….would have been better on a clear morning, I’m sure.

Looking back from the way we came, the variety of vegetation is easily seen. Sometimes the vegetation does not hold the sand well enough and exposed/loose sand results.

The cotton woods seem to be a hardy deciduous species here.

Even in the areas of hardwoods, there are sand slides where the vegetation failed to hold the sand. Note that the trees are no very big around either – probably not very old…and stressed.

The hike was a good contrast from the long drive in the car. We stopped for the night after a short drive into Illinois, more than half way to our Nebraska destination.