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National Lakeshore Reroutes Mount Baldy Trail to Slow Movement of Dune
Porter, IN: Over the last several years, park officials at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore have noted that Mount Baldy, a sand dune famous for its desert-like appearance, has begun moving inland at an alarming pace. Left unchecked, the dune could start to cover over its own parking lot in as few as seven years.
The reason for the increased movement seems to be a combination of too little dune grass on top of Mt Baldy and too many people climbing its southern slope. The lack of dune grass, also known as Marram grass, allows the wind to more easily move the sand. In addition, every footstep up and down the dune helps push sand down the steeper southern slope toward the parking lot while also killing off any Marram grass attempting to take root.
To mitigate this problem, access to Mt. Baldy’s summit has been rerouted from the southern dune slope, directly north of the parking lot, to a trail that starts approximately 100 yards west of the former starting point. Temporary fencing has been placed at the base and summit of Mt. Baldy to close off the former trail and directional signs to the new trail have been installed. An interpretive sign explaining the reasons for the trail reroute will be completed later this spring.
Longer-term solutions are under consideration and the National Lakeshore has requested project funding from the National Park Service to develop a more permanent fix to this problem. In the interim, visitors are urged to help protect Mt. Baldy by using the new trail to the summit.
For more information, contact the park’s public information officer Bruce Rowe at 219-926-7561, extension 263.