Hiking the 3 Dune Challenge at The Indiana State Dunes
Guest Post by Eric Hermanson
It was an enjoyable adventure to conquer the 3 dune challenge at the Indiana Dune State Park. The park is located on the shores of Lake Michigan near the town of Chesterton, Indiana. The challenge consists of a 1.5 mile trail with a vertical climb of 552 feet (Mount Jackson at 176 feet, Mount Holden at 184 feet and Mount Tom at 192 feet. ) That may not sound high to a Rocky Mountain climber, but when doing it in sand it can be quite difficult.
Though I didn’t run the course, the following quote can give you some idea of the degree of difficulty in hiking up a sand dune: “Running on sand requires 1.6 times more energy than running on a hard surface.” — Biologists.org.
The views when you reach each of the three peaks is absolutely beautiful! Lake Michigan looks like an ocean and even from the vantage point of the peak of the three dunes, all you see is the sparkling green-blue hue of the spectacular lake. The views include the rolling hills and lush countryside of northwest Indiana.
A variety of trees, shrubs and plants inhabit the trail, giving you shaded relief as you shrug your way through the sand. It is a real treat to take a break, catch your breath and take in the beauty that surrounds you at the top of each of the peaks. The fresh, cool lake breeze also adds to the sensation that all of your senses can experience on this hike!
Making the final descent towards the shore of Lake Michigan was a welcome sight. Upon reaching the shoreline, I couldn’t resist taking off my shoes and cooling my feet in the refreshingly cold waters of the largest lake in the world that is entirely within one country. (Lake Superior is larger but it is also partly in Canada!)
What is particularly enjoyable about the 3 Dune Challenge is that no special equipment is needed and individuals from all age groups can participate and complete the challenge! Of the 20+ people in our group, all felt tired, but invigorated by the experience and the sense of accomplishment of having completed the hike.