New Southern Lake Michigan Water Trail Includes Indiana Dunes Shoreline

Sea kayakers participating in the Burnham to Marquette Water Trail Expedition rest along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. NPS photo.

The waters and shoreline of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore comprise a key 15-mile segment of the new Southern Lake Michigan Water Trail, a paddling route that traverses the 40+ miles between Chicago, Illinois, and Michigan City, Indiana. Users of the new paddling route will find many attractive amenities, including identified beaching sites, shoreline campgrounds, and readily accessible food and other services along the shoreline.

The new water trail was inaugurated June 13-14 with programs at public landing sites in Illinois and Indiana as well as an ambitious paddling expedition. Programs at the Illinois landing sites focused on the Burnham Plan (Plan for Chicago of 1909), the visionary plan that yielded Chicago’s marvelous system of public waterfront parklands. Programs at the Indiana landing sites focused on the Marquette Plan, a regional planning concept that employs a series of greenways and waterways to connect Northwest Indiana's parks and public lands and provide for free public recreational access to 75% of the Lake Michigan shoreline between the Illinois state border and the city of Portage.

To help kick things off in grand style, the NorthWest Indiana Paddlers Association completed the heavily-publicized Burnham to Marquette Water Trail Expedition, which had around three dozen sea kayakers crossing the open waters of Lake Michigan (some rough going there) and skirting the shoreline along the new lakefront trail (see accompanying photo).

The wide scope of regional participation in this exciting project is revealed in the list of the paddling expedition’s sponsoring organizations (Expedition Partners):

• Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
• National Park Service
• Chicago Area Sea Kayakers Association
• Illinois Paddling Council
• Alliance for the Great Lakes
• Dunes Learning Center
• City of Gary, Indiana
• Citizens of Miller Beach (eastern portion of Gary, Indiana)
• City of Whiting, Indiana
• City of East Chicago, Indiana
• Portage Parks & Recreation
• Indiana DNR Coastal Program
• Lake County Parks Department
• Indiana University Northwest School of Public and Environmental Affairs
• Sanitary District of Michigan City
• Michigan City Power Squadron
• Indiana University Center for Regional Excellence
• Northern Indiana Consortium for the Environment

For additional information about the water trail and the park, contact Lynda Lancaster, Civic Engagement & Volunteer Program Manager at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, phone 219-395-1682.