Heron Rookery Trail

Heron Rookery Trail
 


Getting There
Need to Know
Trail Map
Featured Hike
Nearby Hikes
Photo

The Heron Rookery Trail follows along a portion of the Little Calumet River that once featured over 100 Great Blue Heron nests. After 60 years of nesting here, the herons have moved on to new nesting grounds. These woods remain alive with dozens of birds including kingfishers, woodpeckers and a wide variety of migrating and nesting warblers.

In spring, before the trees leaf out, the woodlands along this trail are blanketed with the most extensive display of spring wildflowers in the national park. Trillium, spring beauties, and Dutchman’s breeches are just a few of the flowers you’ll see along this trail. Most years, the wildflowers peak from late April through mid-May.

Trail Features: Spring Wildflowers, Birding, Wildlife, Little Calumet River
Must See Gems: Spring Wildflowers

 

Getting There
Trailhead Parking Lots
Main (east) Lot: 1336 600 East, Michigan City, IN 46360
Alternate (west) Lot: 1301 North 450 East, Chesterton, IN 46304

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
East Lot: 41.627043, -86.952446 (Decimal Degrees)
West Lot: 41.622502, -86.980227 (Decimal Degrees)

 

Need to Know

Hours & Information

  • Hours – Open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.
  • Free – No entrance or parking fee.
  • Hike Length – 3.3 miles.
  • Hike Time – 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • Difficulty – Easy with no change in elevation.
  • Trail Surface – Packed dirt and clay. Trail can be very slippery and muddy.
  • Facilities – No restrooms or potable water.
  • Pets – Permitted on a leash (6' or shorter).
  • Prohibited – Littering, hunting, and removing plants.
  • Prohibited – Bicycles and motorized vehicles.
  • The main (east) parking lot is gravel and is large enough for buses & RV's to park.
  • The alternate (west) parking lot is gravel and has room for only 4 cars.

Safety

  • Please stay on the trail and respect closed area signs. Going off trail damages fragile habitat.
  • Wear adequate footwear as the trail can be muddy and slippery in sections.
  • Ticks are present year-round. Take precautionary measures to prevent bites.
  • Poison ivy can be present on the edges of the trail.
  • Mosquitos and flies can be bad in the summer months.
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions.
  • In case of an emergency or to report a crime, call 1-800-PARK-TIP.

Accessibility

  • The trail is not wheelchair accessible.
 


Trail Map
Click here for a list of all hiking trail maps of the Indiana Dunes National Park.
Download a national parks interactive trail guide phone app. Apple or Android.
Paper trail maps are available at the trailhead kiosk and the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
 
Dune Ridge Trail Map
Heron Rookery Trail Map
 

Featured Hikes
Heron Rookery Trail
3.3 miles, 12 feet of elevation gain, 0% average grade, 1% maximum grade
Hike time: 2 hours


The featured hike starts from the east parking lot. The hike is a simple out and back. Follow the trail from the east parking lot to the west parking lot and back. The trail surface is packed dirt and clay, which can make this trail very slippery when wet. Wear adequate footwear.

In late April to mid-May, before the trees leaf out, the woodlands along this trail are blanketed with the most extensive display of spring wildflowers in the national park. Fishing is also popular during the spring and fall when salmon and trout are making their spawning runs from Lake Michigan into the Little Calumet River. Indiana state fishing regulations apply.

 

Nearby Hikes
Pinhook Bog
Great Marsh
Glenwood Dunes

Click here for a list of all hiking trails in the Indiana Dunes National Park.
 

Photos
 
Heron Rookery Trail
Little Calumet River in the Heron Rookery.
 
Heron Rookery Trail
White trillium along the Heron Rookery trail.
 
Heron Rookery Trail
Prairie trillium along the Heron Rookery trail.
 
Heron Rookery Trail
Dutchman's britches along the Heron Rookery trail.
 
Heron Rookery Trail
Wild ramps or leeks cover the ground along the Heron Rookery trail.

Last updated: April 10, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304

Phone:

(219) 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

Contact Us