The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is huge in it’s scope and mission. Many people don’t realize that they don’t just have land up on the lakefront, but they also manage inland parks. A lot of people don’t know about these parks and they can be a joy to explore. One such park is the Heron Rookery.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Heron Rookery is located in the countryside between Chesterton and Michigan City. It’s off the beaten path and that is exactly the attraction.
The Heron Rookery is exactly what the name suggests, it’s home to about 100 breeding pairs of Herons who live there throughout the year. The park itself runs along a section of the Little Calumet River. The Herons live on the North Bank (you are not allowed over there) and there’s a nature path on the south side of the river.
The path on the south side of the river is about 1.5 miles long and is a beautiful walk. You’ll go through old growth forest, broken up by the riverbank and occasional open fields.
Not a lot of people know about the Heron Rookery, so you’ll likely have the place to yourself. There are no facilities other than a parking lot and a garbage can. Entry is free. The trail can be muddy, so you’ll need good boots. If you go right now, you’ll see lots of pretty wildflowers.
Sadly, you likely won’t see any Herons as they are well hidden on the other side of the river. The river is beautiful and punctuated with occasional downed trees from beavers. There are ample places to fish or have a picnic. Well worth the day out!