Paul H. Douglas (Miller Woods) Trail

Miller Woods Trail

Getting There
Need to Know
Trail Map
Featured Hikes
Nearby Hikes

The Paul H. Douglas (Miller Woods) Trail winds through several habitats including wetlands, globally rare black oak savanna, open dunes and beach. The views of the lake and the dunes are incredible. The oak savanna's native grasses and wildflowers, including lupine, thrive in the sunlight and open forest floor. The wild lupine, the only food for the caterpillar of the endangered karner blue butterfly, grows close to the trail. Please stay single file on the narrow trail to protect yourself from the abundant poison ivy along the trail edges as well as the fragile lupine habitat.

Trail Features: Birding, Fall Colors, Lake, River, Swimming, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife
Must See Gems: Dunes and Lake Michigan


Getting There

Trailhead Parking Lots
100 North Lake Street, Gary, IN 46403

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.606466, -87.268527 (Decimal Degrees)


Need to Know
Hours & Information

  • The trail system and parking lot are open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.
  • The Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education is open daily, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend. The center is open daily, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, for the remainder of the year.
  • Free (no access fee).
  • The parking lot is paved and has 40 spots.
  • Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed.
  • Pets are permitted on a leash (6' or shorter).
  • Trail surface is mostly loose sand with some sections of packed dirt and there is a boardwalk over the marsh.
  • Stay off marram grass.
  • Respect closed area signs; help us restore the dunes.
  • Year round restrooms and potable water are available in the Paul H. Douglas Center during open hours.
  • No littering, hunting, disturbing wildlife or picking plants.
  • Stay on the trail to protect the wildlife and yourself.
  • Prevent tick bites and related diseases by using insect repellent. Conduct a thorough inspection for ticks after your hike.
  • Walkway from building to marsh boardwalk is accessible; sidewalk to picnic tables is also accessible. Hiking trails are not accessible to wheelchairs.

Trail Map

Click here for a list of all hiking trail maps of the Indiana Dunes National Park.
Download a national parks interactive trail guide phone app. Apple or Android.
Paper trail maps are available at the trailhead kiosk and the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Miller Woods Trail Map
Paul H. Douglas (Miller Woods) Trail Map

Featured Hikes
Paul H. Douglas (Miller Woods) Trail
3.2 miles total — Douglas Center Loop: .92 miles
Trail to Beach (one way): 2.1 miles
46 feet of elevation gain, 1% average grade, 4% maximum grade
Average hike time: Less than one hour for the loop trail; two hours to the lake and back.

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 (Miller Woods) Trail is a partnership between the National Park Service and the City of Gary, IN.


Nearby Hikes
West Beach
Tolleston Dunes
Hobart Woods

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

Miller Woods Trail
Crossing the Grand Calumet River.
Miller Woods Trail
Incredible landscape at Miller Woods.
Miller Woods Trail
Oak savanna to the left, open dunes to the right.
Miller Woods Trail
Interdunal pond in the oak savanna.
Miller Woods Trail
Interdunal pond in the open dunes.

Last updated: March 6, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304


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

Contact Us