1 - 2
FATMAP difficulty grade
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](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowles_Bog)) 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/Cowles_Bog