Cowles Bog is one of our most memorable hikes ever. There is so much to see! We visited Indiana Dunes Cowles Bog Trail as a part of a familiarization trip with Visit the South Shore. All opinions are my own. The Cowles Bog Trail was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1965. This was before the National Lakeshore was even established! This trail area is where Dr. Henry Cowles did lots of his early work in plant ecology in the early 1900s.
Find a map of the trail on the National Park Service website. The trail is 4.7-miles and includes ponds, marshes, swamps, black oak savannas and beaches. It is designated as strenuous because of the steep sand dunes nearing Lake Michigan. We started at the beginning of Cowles Bog Trail, went straight to the lake, and then since time was short, we came back the same way instead of taking the loop.
We will never forget all the snakes!! Setting out on the trail about 8:30 in the morning we didn’t meet one human, but snakes there were in abundance. We counted snakes into the 20s!! They were out sunning themselves.
Our hike took place at beginning of spring in Indiana, and the trees were just beginning to show leaves. It was gorgeous then, but I’m sure it’s even prettier now that it would be green and blooming.
The marshes were fascinating.
The kids found and pointed out the plant with the balls on the top that recoil. They were so excited as they had seen these plants in a show.
Since our time was limited, I kept everyone moving at a brisk pace as much as was possible since they all wanted to stop and look at things.
It took us one hour to reach Lake Michigan.
At the first sight of the water all the kids took off running. I couldn’t hold them back. My Faith was the only one patient enough to let me take her photo.
The hike was so worth it, even to the ones who had begun to complain, once we got to the lake.
We spent about an hour playing in the sand and gazing at the beautiful scenery.
You have to get in the singing sand! Here on Lake Michigan is one of the few places in the world to experience this. It is thought that the quartz in the sand is the cause for this phenomenon, but if you step hard with your heel as you walk you can hear a squeak.
We all could have spent hours here. It was so gorgeous, and there wasn’t another soul in sight.
It was good we had that time to rest because heading back up the dunes was the tough part.
When we finally made it, we all sat down and got the sand out of our shoes. It was a good excuse to catch our breath.
Our hike back to the car took us an hour. The only one that struggled was my six year old. He made it most of the way, but toward the end he caught a lift!
We arrived back to our car and said good-bye to the Indiana Dunes and northwest Indiana. We would love additional time to see more and definitely hike more of the Dunes, but these were some wonderful family memories that won’t be forgotten. What an adventure!
Ready for a northwest Indiana adventure of your own? Learn more about Cowles Bogs Trail. Here are some more places to visit: Albanese Candy Factory, Indiana Dunes State Park West Beach, Edge Adventures Aerial Park. Wondering where to stay? We loved Home2 Suites in Merrillville! Find more inspiration for your stay in northwest Indiana at Visit the South Shore.