Paul H. Douglas Trail
3.4 miles, 46 feet of elevation gain, 1% average grade, 4% maximum grade
Hike time: 2 hours
This featured hike is essentially an out and back trail. Starting from the Paul H. Douglas Center, take the trail north or counter-clockwise around the wetland complex. Look for wildlife including beavers. The trail will run west along the top of the wetland. At the trail junction, take a right and follow the trail to the north. The trail from this point is an out and back to the beach. The trail features beautiful scenery with small interdunal ponds nestled among oak savanna covered dunes teeming with wildflowers in the spring and summer.
Once you cross the bridge over the Grand Calumet River, the landscape changes dramatically into a world of towering sand dunes. The trail winds around and through the dunes all the way the shore of Lake Michigan. After enjoying the lake, follow the trail back to the junction at the wetland complex. Follow the trail to the right along the wetland back to the Paul H. Douglas Center.
The trail surface is mostly sand with some sections of packed soil, gravel or boardwalk. The hike will take longer than you think due the loose footing of walking in the sand. The trail starts in relative shade but ends in the full sun. Please bring plenty of water, sun protection and dress in layers. The weather on the beach can be dramatically colder or hotter than in the woods.
History & Background
The Paul H. Douglas Trail is a partnership between the National Park Service and the City of Gary, Indiana.