Things to note: Only weekends trains, but NOT ALL, have bike service. Bike service is only available at 53% of the stations, most of the ones with full platforms.
Sunday October 23, 2016 8:40am the Klein and I boarded at Museum Campus. I was apprehensive about getting on at third bike-able stop. If bikers filled the car (about 20 bikes) at the first two stops I would not be able to get on. Completely groundless fear; there were no other cyclists.
I had studied some maps and planned to get off in Michigan City, 11th St Station and cycle back toward Dune Park station. Luckily I got and read an official South Shore Line timetable. I learned you cannot get off with a bicycle anywhere between Dune Park and South Bend Airport! I got off at Dune Park. I think I wasted a dollar by using a Michigan City ticket to get off at Dune Park. Money wasted was a whole lot better than having to pay extra and ending up at beautiful South Bend International Airport with a bicycle.
From Dune Park station there is the Calumet Trail going east and west (sort of) and the Dunes Kankakee Trail going north and south. The Calumet trail is published as ten miles long going from Mineral Springs Rd to Mt Baldy trailhead. When I was there, October 2016, there were “Trail Closed” signs going westward. I rode the Calumet trail eastward to Broadway and back. It was like a packed gravel farm road with large unavoidable puddles in places, ideal for a mountain bike. Close to ten miles of fall country cycling and I didn’t see any fellow cyclists, dog walkers, joggers, gasoline powered maintenance vehicles, Segways or rental quadcycles. Nice ride for only a train fare from the Loop.
That looks beautiful. Is the Klein a cross bike, or hybrid or touring? Just trying to get an idea what would work on those trails.
My Klein is an "Attitude Comp". I have 26x1.5 street tread tires and a rear luggage rack mounted on it. I would call it a hard-tail mountain bike with street tires. I am unclear the nuances between cross bike, hybrid and touring.
The Calumet trail east of Dune Park train station to Broadway St. is hard packed fine gravel, a surface similar to the unpaved paths in Lincoln Park. The big difference is puddles, they have a gravel bottom (not mud) and by clues of vegetation and reports of pond life they are a near permanent feature. The maximum depth, I encountered, "just cleared" pedals on down-stroke. I started riding through the puddles after getting cattail fuzz in rear derailleur from gymnastics trying to avoid them.
The north-south path from Dune Park station is Dunes Kankakee Bike Path. It short going only from National Lakeshore visitor center on south to Indiana Dunes state park entrance on north. It is an excellent paved surface. It is suitable for any type bike, roller-blades or even a caster wheel office chair.
This is a long reply so I will add the key info. Good clean restrooms at Dune Park train station, Bartlett's Cafe (just east of Broadway on Dune Highway) and visitor center south end of Dunes Kankakee Bike Path.
see you on the road
PSA: In my experience, the Calumet Trail often looks like this:
[from Chick Stull's Kalamazoo Seasons blog]
I thought I'd use it more but only ended up using it twice. I use Metra with my bike quite a bit but with the limited schedule and stops its just not that convenient. If I ride to Hammond I probably want to ride more, East Chicago isn't much farther. Dunes Park is about the distance I like to ride but the return train is a bit too early for my preferences.