Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk Trail System

Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail
 


Getting There
Need to Know
Trail Map
Featured Hikes
Nearby Hikes
Photos

This popular location is a great place to view the ever-changing seasons along Lake Michigan and watch dramatic weather and clouds build over the lake. It's an easy location to watch for migrating birds in the spring and summer, and observe shelf ice that forms along the beach edge in the winter. Visitors can enjoy easy access to the lakefront and beach, trails that highlight dune succession, an accessible fishing pier and a restored 900-foot breakwater. A 3,500 square foot public pavilion includes restrooms, a seasonal snack bar and a glass walled classroom/meeting space.

Trail Features: Lake Michigan, Views, Birding, Swimming, Fishing

 

Getting There
Trailhead Parking Lot
100 Riverwalk Road, Portage, IN 46368

Directions starting from the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and State Route 249:
Take SR 249 north and take the bridge over U.S. Highway 12 towards the U.S. Steel and Precoat Metals businesses. Turn left at the stop sign and cross over Burns Waterway. Once over the waterway, turn right immediately and head north, towards the lake, passing the entrance sign. Park only in public designated parking spots to help protect the fragile dune ecosystem along the roadside.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.630994, -87.178383 (Decimal Degrees)
 


Need to Know

Hours & Information

  • Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 30 minutes past sunset.
  • Free (no access fee).
  • Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed.
  • Trail is wheelchair accessible.
  • Trail surface is paved.
  • There are year round restrooms and potable water in the pavilion.
  • There are three paved parking lots with a total of 125 spots.
  • During the busy summer season, the parking lots are often full by mid-morning.
  • For information on the Portage Lakefront Beach, click here.
  • Pets are not permitted on the beach from the east boundary of West Beach to the Burns Waterway.
  • Pets, except for service animals, are not permitted inside the pavilion.
  • Pets on a leash are permitted on the paved trail, breakwater, fishing platform, riverwalk and parking areas.
  • The south parking lots are open at all times to fishermen in possession of an after-hours fishing permit.
  • The riverwalk and breakwater walkway areas are closed to public use from the last Monday of November through March 1st each year and at other times when ice and snow are present.


Safety

  • Stay on the trail to protect the wildlife and yourself.
 


Trail Map
Click here for a PDF of the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk trail map.
Click here for a list of all hiking trail maps of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Download a national parks interactive trail guide phone app. Apple or Android.
Paper trail maps are available at the trailhead kiosk and the Visitor Center.
 
Portage Lakefront Riverwalk Trail Map
Click on the map for a full trail map PDF.
 


Featured Hikes
Lakefront & Riverwalk Paved Trail
1.5 miles, 39 feet of elevation gain, 1% average grade, 6% maximum grade
Average hiking time: 45 minutes


This featured hike is a loop style trail and is wheelchair accessible. Starting at the pavilion, pick up the trail heading south on the east side of the road off the traffic circle. The trail will wind through restored dune habitat. After approximately a half a mile, the trail will cross the road and head back north along the Burns Waterway. At roughly the one-mile mark, the trail will turn right heading past the pavilion entrance and down to the breakwater. Take the breakwater out to the end to enjoy the splendor of Lake Michigan. Lastly, take the breakwater back to the pavilion.

History and Background
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk was opened in October 2008. The redevelopment of the site, formerly used by a steel corporation as settling ponds for industrial byproduct and a sewage treatment facility, is a successful model of brownfield reclamation. The land, buildings, and facilities at the site are owned by the National Park Service and operated in partnership with the City of Portage. To learn more about public programs offered there, contact the Portage Parks and Recreation Department at (219) 762-1675, extension 301.

The south parking lots are open at all times to fishermen in possession of an after-hours fishing permit. The riverwalk and breakwater walkway areas are closed to public use from the last Monday of November through March 1st each year and at other times when ice and snow are present.

 

Nearby Hikes
Tolleston Dunes
West Beach
Miller Woods

Click here for a list of all hiking trails in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.


 

Photos
 
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail
The pavilion at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk trail.
 
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail
Sunset at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk trail.
 
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail
Lake Michigan and the fishing pier at Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.
 
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail
Enjoying bird migration along Lake Michigan from the pavilion.

Last updated: May 9, 2016

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304

Phone:

(219) 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

Contact Us