The Land of Fall Leaves and Sand: Indiana Dunes State Park

4W4A6645‘Why has it taken me so long to come here?’ was my initial thought once I arrived and drove around the Indiana Dunes State Park. If memory serves me right (questionable at times), I had not been here since I was a teenager for a 4th of July picnic with my family, dare I say it…that was in the late 19__’s.  Indiana Dunes State Park is a mere 35 minute drive from my home now and was probably a 15 minute drive when we lived in Portage, Indiana for almost 10 years and yet we had never made it a point to visit this park again.  But all that changed on a beautiful November Fall day.

Since discovering a love and appreciation for hiking about 5 years ago, I now look for places near (and occasionally far), where I can enjoy a day of hiking exploring new trails. Since the weather on this particular November Midwest day was going to be near 50 degrees and low wind gust, I decided I would take advantage of the beautiful day and headed out to Indiana Dunes State Park, located in Chesterton, Indiana on Rt. 12 and Rt. 49.

Driving on Rt. 12 on the way to the park there were several points of interest I passed along my way that are part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (part of the U.S. National Park Service).  The Inland Marsh Overlook and Trail, and also, the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.  I thought about stopping at these spots, but, I thought I would leave them to explore another day.  I know myself and I know I would want to spend quite a bit of time exploring here too, but, I was limited on time on this particular day.

I arrived at the park around 8:30 am. Usually there is an minimal entrance fee at the park, however,  there was no one stationed in the booth. I waited a few minutes and looked around to see if a park ranger or park employee was coming back to their post and no one did. I noticed there were a couple of cars in the parking lot and a few folks walking around, so I decided to go ahead and enter the park.

Since I was not familiar with the park, I simply followed the winding road littered with fallen leaves to see where it would lead me. I noticed lots of picnic table and grills scattered through out in the park and few other parking lots.  I was driving a bit slow and I noticed  there was a Jeep behind me that looked like they knew were they were going, so I pulled over so they could pass me up.  I eventually ended up at the Tremont Shelter area which happened to be were the Jeep ended up as well.

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There were fall colors everywhere. I could hear the birds chirping since I had the sunroof opened and my ears perked up.  It was time to get the camera out.

Lots of Dark-eyed Juncos.4W4A6215

I spent quite a while at Tremont Shelter photographing the birds, the trees, the leaves, but most of all, just enjoying the beautiful fall day. The next 27 photos or so were all taken at the Tremont Shelter area.

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Press Play to see the falling golden leaves.

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The moon still shining brightly and peeking through the branches  of the trees that morning.

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Those golden leaves with a tiny bit of red against that blue sky tho!

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The Wilson Shelter area on my way to hike Trail #8 which had a hidden surprise.

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Surprise! Trail 8 is the infamous, unbeknownst to me,  for the 3 Dune Challenge. Three sands dunes to climb in order to see the best views in the park.  Mt. Jackson, EL 176; Mt. Holden, EL 184 and Mt. Tom, EL 192.  HERE I GO!

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Made it!  Mt. Jackson Overlook EL. 176. What a view! Unfortunately, my time was running out at the park and I still wanted to take photos along the lakeshore area, so I didn’t hike the other 2 sand dunes. If the weather holds out like it has been this month, I am going to give it another try and complete all three.

Top view of Mt. Jackson facing North.4W4A6503

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Top view of Mt. Jackson facing South.4W4A6509-2

In the meantime, the view coming down Trail 8 was just as beautiful with the golden sunlight dabbling through the golden fall leaves on the trees.4W4A6521

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Downy Woodpecker (Male)4W4A6558-2

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My last few moments at the park that day was spent photographing around the historic Indiana Dunes State Park Pavilion and beach area.  You could not have asked for the skies to be any more clear than they were on this day. 4W4A6624-24W4A6639-2

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My constant companion the past 5 years. We’ve been on one hell of a ride together. 105,000 miles strong.4W4A6759-2

See you soon! 4W4A6761-Edit

 

 

 

 

 

 

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