1966 Hiking Challenge: Cowles Bog

1966 Hiking Challenge Cowles Bog Trail

Cowles Bog, a National Natural Landmark, is a mosaic of plant communities named in honor of Henry Chandler Cowles (pronounced “coals”), an impactful scientist and conservationist whose research around the Indiana Dunes helped define the field of ecology. The trail brings visitors through a diverse combination of different habitat types, including ponds, marshes, swamps, savannas, woodlands and beaches. Steep sand dunes near Lake Michigan can make this 4.7 mile hike a strenuous journey. Many visitors pack a lunch to enjoy at the shoreline while resting for the return trip (don't forget to "pack out" your trash). Make sure to bring plenty of water, sun protection, and extra clothing layers as the the weather at the lake can be very different than at the parking lot.

The 1966 Hiking Challenge is comprised of 19 hikes that cover 66 miles of trail in the park- celebrating the park’s founding in 1966. The ranger-led hike for this trail met at the Park Headquarters parking lot and was scheduled for Saturday, August 24th at 8:00 AM. Do not worry if you cannot make each of the 19 ranger-led hikes. A check-off sheet will be available at the Visitor Center or the the Paul H. Douglas Center for those who complete the hikes on their own.

REMINDER: Information found on this page is specific to the 1966 Hiking Challenge


  • Please visit Trail Safety for tips and reminders to ensure your adventure is both safe and enjoyable
  • Ranger-led hikes occur rain or shine and are only canceled in inclement weather such as high winds or thunderstorms when conditions are unsafe

Getting There

If you plan to join us for the ranger-guided hike on August 26th, be advised that due to limited parking, the meeting location is the Park Headquarters beneath the flagpole at:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road, Porter, Indiana 46304.

To complete this challenge on your own, use either of the Cowles Bog parking lots:

Trailhead Parking Lots

Main Lot (north): 1450 North Mineral Springs Road, Dune Acres, IN 46304
(Look for the gravel entrance road on the right just before the town guardhouse)

Greenbelt Lot (south): 1184 North Mineral Springs Road, Dune Acres, IN 46304
(Look for the entrance road on the left just after the railroad tracks)

Trailhead GPS Coordinates

Main (North): 41.645191, -87.084633 (Decimal Degrees)

Greenbelt (South): 41.636898, -87.087185 (Decimal Degrees)

Need to Know

  • Hours – Open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.
  • Passes are required.
  • Hike Length – 4.7 miles (to the beach and back)
  • Hike Time – 3 hours.
  • Difficulty – Moderate to rugged; rolling topography with increasing elevation change nearer Lake Michigan.
  • Trail Surface – Mixture of loose sand and packed dirt.
  • Facilities – Year-round porta potties. No potable water.
  • Pets – Permitted on a leash (6' or shorter).
  • Prohibited – Littering and hunting.
  • Prohibited – Bicycles and motorized vehicles.
  • Prohibited – Removing plants, rocks, shells, and fossils.
  • Prohibited – Glass and fires on the beach.
  • The Main (North) parking lot is gravel.
  • The Greenbelt (South) parking lot is paved.
  • The south parking lot is also the trailhead for the Calumet Bike Trail and Porter Brickyard Bike Trail.

Cowles Bog Map 1966 Hiking Challenge

Hike from the north lot or south lot (Greenbelt) in a counterclockwise direction.

PLEASE NOTE: The ranger-guided hike (scheduled for Saturday, August 26th at 8:00 am) meets at the park headquarters parking lot at 1100 North Mineral Springs Road, Porter, IN 46304.

Last updated: April 15, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304


219 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

Contact Us