Tolleston Strand Plain

Why You Should Visit 

The Tolleston Strand Plain is made up of Ivanhoe, Gibson Woods and Seidner Dune and Swale. The dune and swale community is a series of roughly parallel, sandy ridges and low, wet swales formed from irregular cycles of low and high water level and are significant for their high concentration of biodiversity in a small area.


Lake County


Great Lakes


179 Acres (Gibson Woods)
144 Acres (Seidner)
103 Acres (Ivanhoe)  


State Nature Preserve, 1983 (Gibson Woods), 2001 (Ivanhoe & Seidner)

Owned & Managed By

The Nature Conservancy (Ivanhoe & Seidner), Lake County Parks (Gibson Woods) and Shirley Heinze Land Trust (Seidner)


Indiana Heritage Trust & North America Wetland Conservation Act

What The Nature Conservancy is Doing/has Done

At the Conservancy's Ivanhoe Dune & Swale preserve, staff work diligently to save the federally endangered Karner Blue butterfly by restoring its habitat, the wild lupine depends on and, most significantly, the reintroduction projects they began in 2001. Other conservation concerns include protecting the hydrology of the dune and swale which influence the diversity found at the preserve and restoring a fire regime - through prescribed burns - to replicate presettlement disturbance. Invasive species and shrub removal are also done at the preserves.



The mix of animal species at the preserve have been altered by the industrial culture of the Calumet region. The destruction of habitat has not only disrupted the natural landscape but has endangered the populations of native species. The Karner blue butterfly and Columbine duskywings are two examples of what Indiana may lose if the preserve was not protected. Overall, the preserves support more than 270 species of native plants and 60 species of butterflies. Including the Karner blue, there are 23 species listed as rare, threatened, endangered or of special concern in Indiana.


What to See: Plants and Animals

The diversity of natural communities are splendidly abundant. Scattered black oaks dominate the dune ridges with a lush understory of of prairie grasses and wildflowers. Look for hoary puccoon, spiderwort, showly lady slippers, Carolina rose, prairie phlox and wild lupine. The swales are characterized by either the buttonbush swamp or sedge meadows. Wetlands are also formed where the swales dip into the groundwater table. Prairie, eastern deciduous, savanna, and boreal species also mesh freely on the landscape, all which reflect the spatial and temporal changes of the environment.

The easy to moderate terrain and gorgeous scenery will make for a wonderful hike. Ivanhoe and Gibson Woods are more accessible; Ivanhoe has minimal walking trails with no facilities while Gibson offers maintained hiking trails and a nature center. Seidner also has a trail at its site. Please read the Conservancy's Preserve Visitation Guidelines for more information.

For More Information

Lake County Parks
Shirley Heinze Land Trust


Gibson Woods: Accessible from the Indiana Toll Road (I-90) and I-80/94. Turn south on Cline Avenue in Hammond from I-90 and north on Cline Avenue from I-80/94. Turn west on 160th Street and then north at the light at Parrish Avenue, where a sign points to Gibson Woods. The Environmental Awareness Center is on the right at the end of the street.  

Ivanhoe Dune & Swale: From the I-80/94 and I-65 interchange, travel west on I-80/94 approximately 7 miles to the Cline Avenue North exit (S.R. 912. Travel north roughly 2 miles to U.S. 20 E (W. 5th Avenue). Continue traveling east on U.S. 20 E about one mile to Hamlin Street and turn left (north) to 4th Avenue. Turn left and park on either side of the road.  

Seidner Dune & Swale: From I-80/94 take the Kennedy Avenue exit and head north. Continue on Kennedy Avenue as it goes underneath both Route 20 and I-90 (Indiana Toll Road). Immediately after going underneath I-90 take the first right and follow the road until it dead ends. There is a parking lot on the left. A dirt road will take you into the preserve. 


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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