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Popular Beach Reopens After Four Years At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

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Although the beach at Mount Baldy has reopened, the dunes above it are off-limits to visitors at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore/NPS

With the hottest days of summer still to come, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Friday reopened the popular beach at Mount Baldy, which has been closed for four years after hazards were discovered on the dune face above the beach.

Even with the beach open, the dune at Mount Baldy will remain off-limits outside of ranger-led tours due to public safety concerns and dune protection.

Access to the beach is from the Mount Baldy parking lot via a designated ½-mile trail directly west of the dune. The route, considered “somewhat strenuous,” travels through an oak woodland, and a newly marked path will guide visitors from the wooded trail down to the beach.  Visitors must only use the marked route.

The entire Mount Baldy area has been closed since the summer of 2013, when holes began opening up on the dune’s surface from decaying trees. Safe access to the beach was also destroyed by beach erosion.

The park expects the parking lot to fill quickly. Visitors are advised to arrive early on weekends and holidays. The beach is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. With high lake levels, the beach area may be limited. There are no lifeguards at this beach, so swimmers must understand the dangers of Lake Michigan before entering the water. Swimming is strongly discouraged when there is rough water or large waves due to the danger of potential rip currents. Even with calm water, non-swimmers and children should always be very closely monitored by an adult. There are no trash cans provided, so beach-goers are asked to pack out their trash.

While visitors no longer can climb the Mount Baldy dune, weekly ranger-guided hikes are offered to the top of the dune. During the summer, these tours are offered every Sunday at 10 a.m. along with sunset tours on August 5 and September 2. For more information and to reserve a spot on one of these free hikes, call the park visitor center at 219-395-1882.

So far, it has been a busy year for the staff at Indiana Dunes.

At the beginning of July, the park reopened access to Central Avenue Beach after access routes were cut off in the spring. The town of Beverly Shores and the National Park Service worked cooperatively to control the flooding of Beverly Drive, and the park completed emergency repairs of a collapsed portion of Central Avenue.

In April, a chemical spill from a steel mill 100 yards upstream of Lake Michigan closed three beaches – West Beach, Cowles Bog Beach, and Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Beach – for a week. The Environmental Protection Agency tested the water and sand, and the beaches were deemed safe for the public after no significant trace of the chemical was found.

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