The Bailly Homestead grouped with the Little Cal/Mnoke Prairie is hands down one of my favorite hikes at the Indiana Dunes National Park! Although you won’t get a view of Lake Michigan on this trail, it is beautiful stroll through the woods and prairie in any season.
Here is the link to the AllTrails map I follow – click here. *Note a National Park Pass is Required.
The Bailly/Chellberg, Mnoke, and Lil Cal loop is about 3.9 miles long and filled with such a rich history. AllTrails rates it as Moderate, but I think it is fairly easy with minimal stairs and inclines. This trail can get muddy so I would recommend boots after the rain and of course bug spray in the summer! I prefer to start my hike at Chellberg Farm lot. Get Directions Here. The parking lot is a decent size and they have restrooms available. Also, I like to spend some time exploring the farm and checking out the farm animals! Read more about the history of the Chellberg Family Here.
If you are following the AllTrails map, I like to do this trail counterclockwise and start the trek through the woods and check out Bailly Cemetery. The first time I visited this trail I was alone and it was a little spooky. With the first burial in taking place around 1827, this site has been utilized as a family grave either on or around the platform. Read more on the Cemetery Here.
After visiting the cemetery, follow the trail through the woods to make your way to the boardwalk that runs into the bridge over the Lil Cal River. There is plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife and birds on this trail especially by the marshy area of the boardwalk. I like spending some time here just taking in whatever creatures I can spot and its a great stopping point for you know, snacks. I do also like kayaking the Lil Cal which there is a drop in at the National Park but that is for another post. After crossing the bridge, there is another trek through the woods and you will run into the beautiful Mnoke Prairie. I try to end up at the prairie close to sunset for a stunning view.
After making your way through the prairie, you will run into another parking lot. To get back to the trail, you go left out of the lot for a short walk down the road. After crossing the Lil Cal again, you will go right up the hill to continue the trail. (This part was a little confusing for me at first) You will run into the beautiful Bailly Homestead from there. There are multiple structures to view on this piece of the property. The park currently has a sign on the main house stating that they will be restoring/restabilizing the structure and I am exciting to see the progress. Read more about the homestead here.
After exploring the homestead, I make my way to the right trail to take a short trek through the woods back to the Chellberg parking lot. From there it is off to the see the beach or of course have lunch at either Lucrezia’s in Chesterton or Goblin and the Grocer in Beverly Shores.
See you on the next hike!