Tolleston Dunes Marsh Overlook

White flowers and green grass line the winding sandy trail of the Tolleston Dunes Trail.
White flowers and green grass line the winding sandy trail of the Tolleston Dunes Trail.

NPS Photo / J. Manuszak

Quick Facts

Accessible Sites, Benches/Seating, Cellular Signal, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Picnic Table, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Wheelchair Accessible

Tolleston Dunes Marsh Overlook

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 second youngest of four 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).

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.

Overlook Features: Fall Colors, Wildflowers, Wildlife

History and Background

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

Getting There

Overlook Parking Lot
5634 U.S. Highway 12 (Dunes Highway), Portage, IN 46368

Overlook GPS Coordinates
41.613499, -87.206679 (Decimal Degrees)

Need to Know

Hours & Information
  • Hours – Open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.
  • Free – No entrance or parking fee.
  • Hike Length – 0.1 miles.
  • Hike Time – 15 minutes.
  • Difficulty – Easy.
  • Trail Surface – wooden-planked boardwalk.
  • 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 marsh overlook parking lot is paved.
  • There are two picnic tables at the marsh overlook. First come, first served. No advance reservations. Cooking fires are prohibited.

  • 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.
  • The parking lot is paved. There is a wheelchair accessible ramp to the overlook.

Trail Map

All hiking trail maps of the Indiana Dunes National Park are available online on our website or in paper at the trailhead kiosk or the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.

Tolleston Dunes Trail map.

Nearby Hikes

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

Last updated: September 23, 2020