Submitted by: Laura Niemiec
Location: U.S. 20 and School House Rd.
Hours: Parking area is open from 7am to 30 minutes after sunset
Pet Friendly: No, dogs not allowed due to horses being allowed on this trail
Parking: Paved lot
Restrooms: Yes, in the parking lot and at the Comfort Station about halfway through the route
Trail Length: 6.8 miles
— great for cross country skiing when there is snow! —
I have driven past the parking lot for the Glenwood Dunes Trail (hereafter referred to as GDT) more times than I can count over the years, often seeing horse trailers lining the lot. With the fall weather finally cooling off, I made plans to tackle the trail. While the trail itself is about a six and a half miles, it also connects to the Calumet Dunes Paved Trail (0.5), Dunewood Trace Trail (4.4 miles round trip) and the Glenwood Trail Extension (2.6 miles round trip) so one could easily turn a morning of hiking into a full day and about 15 miles.
The trail is diverse, not only in scenery, but in surface ranging from soft sand and grass, to pavement, packed dirt and gravel. While most of the trail is wooded, that latter half meanders through a prairie before phasing back into woodland. Be sure to bring a trail map with, then head west to the trail.
Almost immediately upon starting the trail it branches off. I chose to stay right, tackling the trail counter-clockwise. Crossing Furnessville Rd., I made a fun error and, instead of following the trail over the boardwalk, I took Teale Rd. all the way to Hwy 12. Teale Rd. was closed to motor vehicle traffic in late 2009 and the National Park Service has been working to remove the asphalt to return the area to its natural landscape.
Follow the trail northeast, while catching glimpses of the wetlands just beyond the trees, towards the Comfort Station. Once you head the asphalt portion of the trail you’ll now be on the Calumet Dunes Paved Trail. From the Comfort Station there are two choices, either wind back on the northern stretch of the GDT or explore Dunewood Trace Trail, which will add 4.4 miles to the trip. For the trip, I continued on the GDT and followed it along the highway until back across the former Teale Rd. and Furnessville Rd. to the loop at the southwest end of the trail. Here, at the far southern point of the loop, is where the Glenwood Dunes Extension Trail begins. Follow it out and back for an additional 2.6 miles or continue on around the loop and make the trek back to the parking lot.
On this mid-October hike, foliage on this trail was not quite peak but there was a lot to see. I didn’t see any horses on this trip but I definitely saw evidence they had been on the trail so watch where you tread. Overall, Gaia GPS logged my hike at 6.55 miles (due to my detour down Teale Rd.) with a total hike time just under 3 hours. Glenwood Dunes Trails is an excellent hike and I will be back for another visit in the near future. Also, the GDT is also popular in the winter for cross-country skiing.