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June 5th is National Trails Day. To mark the event the National Park Service, in partnership with the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program and the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association (NWIPA), will launch the inaugural sea kayak tour of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This project was made possible in part by a grant from the National Park Foundation through the generous support of the Coca-Cola Foundation, a Proud Partner of America's National Parks. The event starts just outside Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore at Marquette Park in Gary, Indiana, spans the entire length of both the national lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park, and ends with a celebration at Millennium Plaza in Michigan City, Indiana.
“Many visitors are surprised to learn that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore extends into the waters of Lake Michigan,” commented national lakeshore superintendent Costa Dillon, “the efforts of the NWIPA and this event help to highlight the many activities open to the public in this national park. This event also celebrates the newly formed Lake Michigan Water trail Association a four-state paddlers’ coalition working in partnership with paddlers, state parks, county parks, and local municipalities to implement a series of stops so that paddlers can circumnavigate Lake Michigan.
“We are very excited to follow up last year’s Burnham-to-Marquette paddle event with the inauguration of this trail,” stated NWI Paddling Association President Dan Plath. “Folks can come out with us to experience this beautiful place by kayak or canoe with a group and then they can feel more comfortable using this water trail the rest of the summer. Each leg of our trip includes a safety briefing and what to expect along the way.” The NWIPA is asking people to pre-register at www.nwipa.org. A small fee will cover costs to the NWIPA. More information is at the website. If the lake is too choppy or the weather is otherwise not cooperating, the event will be rescheduled for July, 17, 2010.
Not up to a daylong paddle? The event is set up so that people can paddle the whole length of the trail or meet the paddlers along the way and paddle for a shorter distance. A welcome and safety orientation will start the event at 7:45a.m. at Marquette Park in with plans to start paddling by 8:30a.m. The first stop will be about 1-1/2 to two hours later at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The second stop at about 1:30p.m. will be at Indiana Dunes State Park and followed by an afternoon stop at the Lakeview site of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The final leg should bring the intrepid group to Millennium Plaza for a celebration event from 6:00pm-8:00pm.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 392 units of the National Park System ranging from 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 in the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year. More information can be found at www.nps.gov/INDU.