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Dune Succession Trail @ Indiana Dunes National Park

IN Dunes Natl Park photo - Cottonwood leaves along the Dune Succession Trail at West Beach
.9 ml
.75 hr
81 ft
376 North County Line Road, Gary, IN 46403

West Beach offers a great combination of hiking and relaxing at the beach. The trails are varied and encompass many habitats. There are great views from the top of the Dune Succession Trail stairs, a beautiful pinery of jack pines, birding opportunities along Long Lake and secluded sections of forest. After hiking, relax and swim at the beach.

The Dune Succession Trail (Loop 1 of the West Beach trails) highlights the four stages of dune development within its one-mile length. From the parking lot, follow the road north, toward the lake and look for the trail to pick up to the west of the bathhouse. This scenic, but strenuous, trail includes a climb up 270 stairs for a spectacular view of Lake Michigan and Chicago. Support the restoration effort in the fragile dunes and ponds by remaining on designated trails.

  • Hours – Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm Central Time.
  • Passes are required.
  • Hike Length – all 3-loops: 3.4 miles. Dune Succession – (Loop 1): 0.9 miles. West Beach (Loop 2): 1.2 miles. Long Lake (Loop 3): 2.2 miles.
  • Hike Time – 45 minutes to 2.5 hours.
  • Difficulty – Easy to moderate with some steep grades on the Dunes Succession (270+ stairs) and Long Lake loops.
  • Pets are permitted on a leash (6' or shorter). They are prohibited in the lifeguard swimming area in the summer.
  • Seasonal showers, lockers and a beach with lifeguards are available from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through the Monday of Labor Day weekend. 
  • Parking, picnic tables and restrooms are available near the trailheads. 


  • Trails are not wheelchair accessible. The walkway to the bathhouse and beach is wheelchair accessible as are two of the picnic shelters.


  • 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.

Photo from Indiana Dunes National Park

Hiking Trail