The inner and outer coastal plains are good places for good hikes on easy terrain. On Halloween we went to Cheesequake State Park. Just as Round valley reminded me of Maine with an invasive plant problem and without the pitcher plants, Cheesequake reminded me of the Indiana Dunes with a deer problem and without regular controlled burns. Both have rolling dunes covered in acidic oak forest.
Phlox, hoary puccoon, and spiderwort were blooming in mid-June at Indiana Dunes, and the understory of sassafras and ericaceous shrubs were kept in check by prescribed fire. The dunes rolled up and down and eventually to Lake Michigan, which looked like a lazy, shore lapping ocean.
At Cheesequake in October, maple leaf viburnum was burgundy, sweet pepperbush yellow, and tupelo pink. The dunes poked their fingers into the marshes. Peeking into the windows of the just closed nature center, I saw a framed photo of a solitary pink ladies' slipper orchid. I imagined this place as beautiful and as rich as Indiana Dunes... if only there were far fewer deer.