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The National Park Service at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has been awarded an Active Trails Grant from the National Park Foundation through a generous donation from the Coca-Cola foundation, a Proud Partner of America’s National Parks.
The Active Trails Program was developed to enhance park trails, engage the local community in a healthy active life style and encourages participation in trail stewardship. At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore the grant will provide improvements to the Lake Michigan Water Trail in the national lakeshore. The project will include signage at identified put-in locations, interpretive/educational waysides, and kayak lockers. “This project connects Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to the 1000 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline,” stated Eric Ehn from the national lakeshore, “the addition of the put-ins at the national lakeshore allows paddlers to launch canoes or kayaks and travel safely on day trips or overnights between Illinois, Wisconsin or Michigan.” Next summer paddlers will be able to launch canoes or kayaks, from 12 miles of national lakeshore waterfront using the parking lots at Mt. Baldy, Kemil, Lake View, Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, West Beach, or Porter Beach. The grant will also allow the National Park Service to install boat lockers so paddlers can secure their boats at the shore and walk to the Dunewood Campground or to a local restaurant.
Local interest in paddling is demonstrated in the meteoric growth of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, this eight month old canoe and kayak club has seen interest in paddling the Indiana shoreline increase. “The multiple places to put in a vessel on Lake Michigan create paddling opportunities for all skill levels” stated Dan Plath, President of Northwest Indiana Paddling Association. “We will officially kick off Active Trail Program next summer with a fun paddle, possibly from West Beach to Mt. Baldy, stay tuned for more information.”
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 391 units of the National Park System ranging form Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie inn the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year.