Little Calumet River Trail

The Little Calumet River Trail is a relatively small part of the overall trail system in the Bailly Homestead/Chellberg Farm unit of the Indiana Dunes National Park, but it gets my vote as the most interesting. Head west from the parking area through a small stretch of woods and thence into the Mnoké Prairie, a 120-acre restoration work in progress. Prairie grasses dominate in late summer, but prairie wildflowers also appear here and there. Eventually the trail ducks back into the woods and begins descending toward the Little Calumet River.

A substantial footbridge crosses the river, and from there you’re on a long boardwalk that traverses the floodplain and wetlands associated with the Little Calumet. Depending on the time elapsed since the last round of high water, you may see a fascinating wetland world or expanses of mud-encrusted vegetation and the wrack and ruin of flood debris. Keep an eye out for cardinal flower.

While the trail does continue north, looping in a generally uninspiring way around the Environmental Learning Center before heading east, I usually turn around at the end of the boardwalk and retrace my steps.

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