3 Dune Challenge: Steep Climbs, Attractive Scenery
Warm days are ahead, and I'm excited to play in the sand and hit the trails. I do both simultaneously whenever I undertake the 3 Dune Challenge at Indiana Dunes State Park.
The 3 Dune Challenge is a self-guided 1.5 mile challenge loop trail with 552 vertical feet of climb! Don’t be intimidated; you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to conquer this. I’ve witnessed people of all fitness levels take on this challenge; some slow walk it with pets, families climb it together, and yes, the warriors scale it with ease.
Important things to remember before beginning are: bring plenty of water and dress appropriately for hiking (comfortable shoes, clothing, etc.) I’ve noticed people give up and turn around because they didn’t have adequate supplies or weren’t dressed right for the challenge.
Ready? Here we go.
The self-guided tour kicks off at the Nature Center at the back of the Indiana Dunes National Park campground.
You will find signs directing you to the challenge's trails.
After following the trails you will arrive at Mt. Jackson, our first climb. Named after Indiana Governor Edward Jackson, Mt. Jackson is 176 feet above Lake Michigan and has 32 million cubic feet of sand. The first climb tests you right away; you will feel your heart working. I usually focus on the top and never stop climbing. The struggle is real!
You're greeted with far-reaching views once you reach the top!
Often, while walking the dunes, you'll encounter friendly people, who smile and greet you as you pass. Some may even stop for a conversation. I'm always interested in from where people are visiting.
While taking in the view atop Mt. Jackson, I met a family visiting from Bloomington, Indiana. I inquired how they enjoyed the first climb: “so far so good they said” the view is worth it.
After lingering for a while, I continued, following the signs to my next climb; Mt. Holden.
Mt. Holden is 184 feet above Lake Michigan, contains 53 million cubic feet of sand, and has a maximum slope angle of 32 degrees!
My legs were feeling this one. As I’m climbing, I’m thinking about how I seriously need to get back into my fitness routine!
At the top, I met and chatted with another visitor, this time from Chicago. He's employed in Indiana and had no idea that the dunes were here. His co-workers urged him to visit.
Chicago is only 50 miles from the Indiana Dunes State Park. It's an easy trip for a day of hiking.
Continuing on to Mt. Tom now, it's the tallest dune.
The signs make this self-guided tour easy to navigate.
The perfect weather coupled with the birds singing to me create a calming and peaceful feeling while walking the trails in between each climb.
Here we are at the start of Mt. Tom, our 3rd and tallest climb.
Some may choose to take the stairs.
I usually climb the steep sides; might as well go all in!
Once you reach the top, you'll not only take in a scenic view; you'll also receive a lesson in history.
Imagine over 5 thousand years ago this very spot was the shore of Lake Michigan. Wow! Read all about it at the top of Mt. Tom.
At this point we've completed climbing the 3 tallest dunes in the Indiana Dunes State Park! It was worth the effort. I always enjoy this hike.
Thanks for following along with me.
To finish the trail, take the stairs down and follow the trail 4 signs to the campground and visitor center.
Or if you prefer, head north to the beach!
Have you completed the 3 Dune Challenge? How'd you like it?
Let me know in the comments.
Hope to see you on the trails soon; be sure to say Hi!