Great Marsh Trail System

Great Marsh Trail
 


Getting There
Need to Know
Trail Map
Featured Hikes
Nearby Hikes
Photos

A really nice birding hike with views of the largest wetland complex in the Lake Michigan watershed.
Flocks of coots, mallards, and wood ducks now glide over the wetland's surface. Kingfishers, tree swallows, and rusty blackbirds rest during migration. Green herons stalk the shoreline while beaver play in the channels. The Great Marsh abounds in the diverse animal activity of a healthy wetland ecosystem. During the migration periods, the wetland will be frequented by flocks of ducks and geese. The wading birds like herons and egrets, and the song birds such as warblers and red-winged black birds are abundant.

Trail Features: Birding, Great Marsh, Wildlife
Must See Gems: Great Marsh Observation Deck

 

Getting There
Trailhead Parking Lots
Both lots are North of U.S. Highway 12 on Broadway Avenue, Beverly Shores, IN 46301
South lot is the main trailhead. North lot is handicap parking only

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
South Lot: 41.674825, -86.986607 (Decimal Degrees)
North Lot: 41.677522, -86.988220 (Decimal Degrees)
 


Need to Know

Hours & Information

  • Open daily from sunrise to 30 minutes past sunset.
  • Free (no access fee).
  • Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed.
  • No pets are permitted due to restoration efforts.
  • Main trail is not wheelchair accessible.
  • Information board at the trailhead.
  • Trail surface is grass with some sections of packed dirt.
  • No restrooms or potable water.
  • Main trailhead is at the south parking lot.
  • The north parking lot only has handicap parking.
  • There is a paved, wheelchair accessible path to the observation deck from the north lot.

Safety

  • Wear adequate footwear as the trail can be muddy and slippery in sections.
  • Stay on the trail to protect the wildlife and yourself.
  • Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and tuck long pants into socks to avoid ticks and poison ivy.
 


Trail Map
Click here for a PDF of the Great Marsh trail map.
Click here for a list of all hiking trail maps of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Download a national parks interactive trail guide app. Apple or Android.
Paper trail maps are available at the trailhead kiosk and the Visitor Center.
 
Great Marsh Trail Map
Click on the map for a full trail map PDF.
 


Featured Hikes
Great Marsh Hike
1.7 miles, 9 feet of elevation gain, 0% average grade, 1% maximum grade
Average hiking time: 1 hour

The featured hike starts from the south parking lot trailhead. Follow the trail generally north until the T-junction. Turn right and complete the lollipop shaped trail. Return to the T-junction and head straight this time to the Great Marsh observation desk. Lastly, hike back to the T-junction and turn right, which will take you back to the south parking lot.

History and Background
The Great Marsh is the largest interdunal wetland in the Lake Michigan watershed. It serves as a critical habitat for breeding and migratory birds. This popular trail features an overlook of the marsh where you can spot a wide variety of birds ranging from Great Blue Herons to Sandhill Cranes. While much of the marsh was drained in the early 1900's for residential and agricultural use, the National Park Service began restoration of this portion in 1998. To protect the bird life, no pets are allowed on this trail.

The diversity of plants, birds and habitats signifies the return of a healthy wetland ecosystem after decades of neglect. Now restored, the Great Marsh's fens, sedge meadows and wet prairies are again thriving and providing the natural filter to improve the area's water quality.

 

Nearby Hikes
Dune Ridge
Mount Baldy
Glenwood Dunes

Click
here for a list of all hiking trails in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
 

Photos
 
Great Marsh Trail
A sandhill crane along the Great Marsh trail.
 
Great Marsh Trail
A great blue heron along the Great Marsh trail.
 
Great Marsh Trail
A warbler along the Great Marsh trail.
 
Great Marsh Trail
A white egret along the Great Marsh trail.
 
Great Marsh Trail
Fall colors along the Great Marsh trail.

Last updated: April 22, 2016

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304

Phone:

(219) 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

Contact Us