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Cowles Bog Trail

A moderate hike with "outstanding plant diversity" and the option to enjoy lunch of the shores of Lake Michigan.

Hiking Moderate

6.7 km
86 m
86 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
183 m
High Point
214 m
Cowles Bog Trail Map

Named after the late ecologist and "father of plant ecology in North America" Dr. Henry Cowles, this hike showcases the plant diversity that helped Indiana Dunes earn the designation of a National Natural Landmark in the 1960s. Nearing 4.5 miles, this "lollipop" loop explores an area that contains "bog, fen, marsh, wet meadow, swamp, and pond habitats" that make up this wetland complex.


A selection of maples, birch, and pine dominate the landscape while the ground is layered with columbine, jewelweed, nettle, and cattail just to name a few. According to Wikipedia, "orchids are becoming increasingly more common as restoration work has been going on putting orchids back in their natural habitat." (Source)

The Cowles Bog Trail is listed as a moderate hike, though steep sand dunes along the lake can make portions of the trek more strenuous. To avoid the steeper sections, you have the option to bypass the beach by utilizing a "cut-off" trail that is clearly marked.

The main trailhead is located on Mineral Springs Road in Dune Acres, adjacent to the guardhouse. It is open from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm and no parking fee is required. Portable restrooms are available, but there is no potable water. The Greenbelt Lot (south and near the railroad tracks), is a great alternative for parking is the main lot is full.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/indu/planyourvisit/cb16.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CowlesBog



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area