Residents of Northwest Indiana know that Lake Michigan is a welcoming spot
for paddlers and non-motorized watercraft, as the many beaches along the
shoreline offer easy access to “water trails” throughout the region.
And on June 4—National Trails Day—the first 75 miles of Lake Michigan
shoreline will officially be designated a National Recreation Trail (NRT),
the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association and the Lake Michigan Water Trail
Association said in a joint statement released on Monday.
The event will feature a Sea Kayak Lake paddle beginning at 11:30 a.m. at
Marquette Park in Gary and ending four miles east of there at Portage
Lakefront and Riverwalk.
A second paddling option, intended for recreational kayakers as well as
canoeists, will begin on the Little Calumet River at the Miller Chapter of
the Izaak Walton League.
Both trips will simultaneously travel to the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.
Then, at 1:30 p.m., there will be a dedication ceremony highlighting the
public, private, and non-profit organizations which supported the trail and
an unveiling of the latest South Shore Poster, sponsored by NIPSCO,
depicting the Lake Michigan Water Trail. Afterwards, paddlers will return to
the launch public access sites.
“The Lake Michigan Water Trail is a great example of collaboration between
industries, local and federal government, non-profit agencies and public
advocacy groups,” Porter County Parks and Recreation Superintendent Walter
Lenckos said. “The result is a trail that all our residents can be proud of
and that all of our visitors can enjoy.”
The Lake Michigan Water Trail is easily accessible to the more than 6
million people who live in the five counties adjacent to the trail, and the
more than 9 million people in the region, said Dan Plath, the Indiana
representative for the Lake Michigan Water Trail Association and president
of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association.
Plath added that Chicago and the Indiana Dunes attract tourists from around
the world, ensuring that the trail is enjoyed by people from beyond the
immediate region. “The environmentally friendly and healthy use of human
powered watercraft allows paddlers to explore the lakeshore in a most
intimate way,” he said. “Unsurpassed views of Chicago’s world class skyline
and lakefront parks reward paddlers along Chicago’s entire lakefront.”
The Lake Michigan Water Trail Association was created to develop and expand
the trail by running annual events and by partnering with public and private
access site owners in the coordination of trail planning, safety and
management. Large active sea kayaking clubs in states surrounding the lake
provide a local base of advocates and users. Another organization, the Lake
Michigan Water Trail Coalition, brings additional state and local resources
to the implementation of this trail through planning and land acquisition.
“We are dedicating this stretch, the first 75 miles of a trail that will be
1600 miles long and will attract paddlers from around the world to paddle
the shores of Lake Michigan,” Plath said. “It is exciting for us to help
spearhead this effort. Within a few years this trail will be the longest
continuous water trail in the world.”
As a prelude and kickoff to the National Trails Day celebration, Deputy
Secretary of the Department of the Interior, David Hayes will announce
Secretary Salazar’s designation of 41 trails added to the National
Recreation Trails System at a press conference be held in Chicago on June 2.