Are you looking for a new challenge? Do you have what it takes to climb the three highest sand dunes in Indiana? If so, The 3 Dune Challenge is for you.

To complete The 3 Dune Challenge, a person must run or hike a special 1.5 mile course at Indiana Dunes State Park, climbing Mount Jackson (elevation 176 feet), Mount Holden (184 feet), and Mount Tom (192 feet). Some parts of the trail feature 40-degree slopes, making each step that much more, well, challenging. In the sandy vertical climbs, it’s common to take two steps forward and slide one step back.

Looking for an adventure? Looking for great views? Do the 3 Dune Challenge at Indiana Dunes State Park!

Photo, Kevin Reinhardt

Start at the new Visitor Center

Stop by the new Indiana Dunes Visitor Center and get oriented to the area. Indiana Dunes National Park has 15,000 acres of enchanting dunes, wetlands, prairies and forests.

What’s interesting is that so many people think Mt. Baldy, which is located a few miles to the east in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, is the tallest dune in Indiana. But at 125 feet, Mt. Baldy is significantly less tall than the three sand dunes that are part of the challenge. The challenge is the premier fitness challenge in the Indiana Dunes, making it a great attraction for athletes, families, and groups of friends.

The 3 Dune Challenge trail at Indiana Dunes State Park begins at the Nature Center and is rated as rugged in difficulty level, but the park has several other trails that are rated moderate and easy. So, groups that have people of different fitness levels can pick a trail that matches their ability. There is a small entry fee to the park, but once in, the trail is free.

Head to the state park’s Nature Center to begin the 3 Dune Challenge. Take a deep breath and start climbing!

Go at your own pace - walk slow or run fast. Take plenty of water.  Enjoy the views. Get the sticker!

Before leaving the area, drive along Lake Front Drive in Beverly Shores. Five homes from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Century of Progress line the road. The homes were moved to their current locations in 1935. They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Don’t miss a visit to the Albanese Candy Factory Outlet in Merrillville. Gummi Bears, chocolates, nuts and gifts are the perfect treat at the end of a day at the dunes.

El Salto Mexican Restaurant is just down the road from the candy outlet. Take advantage of patio dining in nice weather. Relax with great food and drinks at day’s end.

The dunes of Northwest Indiana have something for everyone. Whatever the season, beauty, adventure, sand, solitude and candy await!

Photo, Lorena Edenfield

To learn more about The 3 Dune Challenge or other things to do in Indiana Dunes Country, stop by the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, located at 1215 N. State Road 49 in Porter, IN; click here or call 800-283-8687. The 3 Dune Challenge is an initiative of Indiana Dunes Tourism.