Tolleston Dunes Trail

Tolleston Dunes Trail

Getting There
Need to Know
Trail Map
Featured Hikes
Nearby Hikes

The Tolleston Dunes Trail winds amid 4,700 year-old sand dunes that were formed when Lake Michigan's water level was 25 feet higher than today. Tolleston is the youngest of three distinct dune systems found within the national park. Together these dune ridges provide a glimpse into the changing shoreline of Lake Michigan. Tolleston Dunes has varied habitats ranging from globally rare black oak savanna to wetlands and plants such as prickly pear cactus, butterfly weed, and the wild blue lupine flower (Lupinus perennis) which grows in abundance. Another plant with a large population is the eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa).

Trail Features: Fall Colors, Wildflowers, Wildlife


Getting There
Trailhead Parking Lots
Main Lot: 5800 U.S. Highway 12 (Dunes Highway), Ogden Dunes, IN 46368
Marsh Overlook Lot: 5634 U.S. Highway 12 (Dunes Highway), Portage, IN 46368

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
Main: 41.615056, -87.192889 (Decimal Degrees)
Marsh Overlook: 41.613499, -87.206679 (Decimal Degrees)

Need to Know

Hours & Information

  • Hours – Open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.
  • Passes are required.
  • Hike Length – 2.9 miles.
  • Hike Time – 2 hours.
  • Difficulty – Moderate with consistent changes in elevation.
  • Trail Surface – Sand with some sections of packed soil, gravel, and boardwalk. Boardwalk can be submerged.
  • Facilities – No restrooms or potable water.
  • Pets – Permitted on a leash (6' or shorter).
  • Prohibited – Littering, hunting, and removing plants.
  • Prohibited – Bicycles and motorized vehicles.
  • The main trailhead parking lot and marsh overlook parking lot are paved.
  • There are two picnic tables at the marsh overlook. First come, first served. No advance reservations. Cooking fires are prohibited.
  • In the winter, this trail is popular for cross-country skiers looking for a more challenging experience.


  • Please stay on the trail and respect closed area signs. Going off trail damages fragile habitat.
  • Ticks are present year-round. Take precautionary measures to prevent bites.
  • Poison ivy can be present on the edges of the trail.
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions.
  • In case of an emergency or to report a crime, call 1-800-PARK-TIP.


  • Main trail is not wheelchair accessible. There is a wheelchair accessible picnic area and overlook located 1⁄4 mile west of the parking lot on U.S. Highway 12.

Trail Map
Click here for a list of all 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.
Tolleston Dunes Trail Map
Tolleston Dunes Trail Map

Featured Hikes
Tolleston Dunes Trail
2.9 miles, 127 feet of elevation gain, 2% average grade, 9% maximum grade
Hike time: 2 hours

This featured hike is a lollipop shaped trail. Starting at the parking lot trailhead, the trail starts out in what was once a sand mining operation. This is why the parking lot and surrounding area are so flat. After roughly a third of a mile, the trail enters the rolling ancient sand dunes of Lake Michigan. The footing is generally good with some sections of sand. At the loop trail junction, follow the trail to the right. The trail wind will up and down through oak savanna and wetland habitats.

Shortly after the boardwalk (roughly the one-mile mark), you will reach the cut-off trail junction. Staying to the right will take you on the outer loop (2.9 miles total distance). Taking the left trail will cut 0.8 miles off the hike (total hike distance of 2.1 miles). The recommended route is the outer loop. At the two-mile mark, stay to the right at the cut-off trail junction. Finally, at the loop trail junction, stay right again and hike back to the parking lot.

Tolleston Dunes Overlook
This short boardwalk leads to two shaded picnic table overlook areas that are accessible to wheelchairs. The boardwalk is located at a pull-off on U.S. Highway 12, approximately one-quarter mile west of the main parking lot. There are interpretive signs and a nice view of the Tolleston Dunes wetland complex.

History and Background
The Tolleston Dunes parking lot is the site of former sand mining activities from before the park was created.


Nearby Hikes
West Beach
Paul H. Douglas (Miller Woods)
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

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

Tolleston Dunes Trail
Wildflowers along the Tolleston Dunes trail.
Tolleston Dunes Trail
Butterflies along the Tolleston Dunes trail.
Tolleston Dunes Trail
Prickly pear cactus along the Tolleston Dunes trail.
Tolleston Dunes Trail
Butterfly weed along the Tolleston Dunes trail.

Last updated: September 20, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304


219 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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