Autumn Hike on the Boardwalk

Fall Hike This Fall season was relatively warm and dry, so the thought was that the leaves would drop early and without much color. As it turns out, the color was great, it was just delayed a few weeks. Visiting the Chellberg Farm trails at the Indiana Dunes National Park has become a tradition in the Fall, and it never disappoints. This area has scores of maple and beech trees that turn golden in autumn, and the rolling landscape provides the perfect setting for a hike. Boardwalks and stairs provide relatively easy access through the deep gullys of this area. Even in the rain, hikers can enjoy the landscape without too much mud or overflow of streams. Through the Woods On the day of this hike the parking area was overflowing with cars, and the remote lot was being used. Surprisingly, these trails were almost empty; I wonder if visiters only knew about the short trail near the sugar shack and behind the farmhouse. Venturing past the barns and field, one finds the trail that wanders through these rolling, wooded dunes. There are a few trails that total about four miles (maybe more if you wander off toward other parts of the park), but this trail is about a mile loop. It's well worth exploring any time of year, but especially in the Fall.

Autumn Gold

Fall at the Sugar Shack

Walking through the sugar bush in autumn is amazing. The sugar bush is another term for a wooded area filled with maple trees used for maple sugar, and maple trees are known for their beautiful Fall color. One of my favorite places to explore in autumn is this particular sugar bush at the Chelberg Farm in northwest Indiana. The farm is part of the Indiana Dunes National Park, and a huge contrast to the beaches and lakeshore most people think of when they hear about the dunes.

These hills are dunes, long ago deposited by the wind and waves of a then much larger Lake Michigan. Over time, the grasses gave way to trees and the falling leaves helped create a more fertile soil to support more types of trees. The trees in this area were most likely planted by the early farming people like the Chelbergs to produce maple syrup. 

The sugar shack can be seen at the top left of the image. This is where the maple sap was boiled until a good portion of the water evaporated, creating maple syrup. Tours of the sugar shack are given every March during the prime sap collection time.

Golden WoodsHiking the winding, hilly trails of the sugar bush is absolutely beautiful in the Fall. This area has to be the most colorful of the entire park, and certainly worth the visit.