During the summer, Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk serves as a home away from home for many locals. You’ll see beachgoers sunbathing and swimming, families hiking and fishing, and maybe even one or two sunset marriage proposals. Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk is a place where Northwest Indiana residents go to enjoy the season.
This 57-acre beachfront property is made possible by cooperation between two governmental units, both with a strong affinity towards conservation. Jointly managed by the National Park Service and the City of Portage, each entity oversees different aspects of park operation. Their collaboration has produced an oasis from the surrounding industry.
Open since 2008, Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk has quickly become a very popular recreation area. The property offers visitors a handicap accessible loop trail, a fishing pier, a breakwater and a pavilion with kitchens, restrooms, seasonal concessions and a classroom. The classroom is available for rent, but rental opportunities are limited so call in advance.
An important insider’s tip for enjoying the park: make sure to walk out onto the breakwater and, once you get a sufficient distance from the shore, turn around. This vantage point provides a view of the shoreline that is typically only experienced by those in a boat out on the lake, said Jenny Orsburn, Portage Parks superintendent.
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk encompasses some beautiful natural features as well. In addition to its public beach, an impressive dune community exists near the lakeshore. Considerable amounts of oak savannah habitat can also be found within the park. Burns Waterway is nearby, providing a unique example of how a river system interacts with a large body of water.
This year, a week of the Portage Park Department’s summer camp for children will be held at the park. Additionally, the National Park Service occasionally holds programs here, with the City of Portage acting as a partner.
For general information about the park and a schedule of activities, visit www.inportageparks.com. The park is also on Indiana Dunes Tourism’s Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail (www.beyondthebeachdiscoverytrail.com) because it’s among the area’s top natural, cultural and historical assets.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Kristina Kuzma is an intern at Indiana Dunes Tourism.