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Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk

  3.0 ( 3 ) Favorite


1.5 mile 2.3 kilometer loop


Ascent: 39' 12 m
Descent: -42' -13 m
High: 607' 185 m
Low: 583' 178 m


Avg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 6% (3°)


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Trail shared by Rafi Wilkinson

A great wheelchair accessible area with paved trails, a fishing pier, beach and stunning views.

Rafi Wilkinson

Features Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views

Family Friendly An easy paved path, nice swimming beach, and a fishing pier.

Free parking and access. Open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. No bicycles or motorized vehicles allowed. Pets are permitted on a leash (6' or shorter) Pets, except for service animals, are not permitted inside the pavilion. Stay on the trail to protect the wildlife and yourself.


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 between public and private groups.

Today, visitors can enjoy easy access to the lakefront and beach, trails that highlight dune succession and Burns Waterway, 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.

Need to Know

Pavilion and fishing pier are wheelchair accessible. The trail is mostly wheelchair accessible. There are year-round restrooms and potable water source in the pavilion the north parking lot.

The area is open at all times to those actively engaged in fishing.

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


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. (Keep off the shelf ice; it is extremely dangerous). During the busy summer season, the 125 vehicle parking lots are often full by mid-morning.

All facilities meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The riverwalk has stair access from the south parking area and trail access from the north parking area. Across the road from the waterway, a paved accessible trail connects the south parking lot with the northern facilities. Observe dune plant succession as you stroll along the restored lagoons. The pavilion has accessible restrooms and is a Gold LEED certified building. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a program of the U.S. Green Building Council. The public facilities were designed and developed to minimize their impact on the reclaimed landscape.

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. Environmentally affiliated groups can reserve the space for classes or meetings by contacting the Indiana Dunes National Park at 219-395-1644. A Special Use Permit (non-refundable $65 application processing fee) is required, along with proof of liability insurance.

History & Background

Indiana Dunes National Park (formerly national lakeshore) was established to preserve portions of the Indiana Dunes and other areas of scenic, scientific, historic and recreational value. Up to two million annual visitors enjoy the park's 15,000 acres of wetlands, prairies, sand dunes, oak savannas, forests, and historic sites. The park's 15 miles of beaches hug the southern shore of Lake Michigan from Gary, IN, to Michigan City, IN. For more information, visit nps.gov/indu or facebook.com/IndianaDunesNPS.

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ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna

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Jul 8, 2019
Tim Bellovary
Sep 21, 2018
Ethan Burdin
Aug 5, 2017
Tim Chervenak
Nov 2, 2016
Michelle Senderhauf
Two laps 2.5mi
May 19, 2016
Deborah Brazys
Jun 17, 2015
Nuno Barros

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 3 votes


  3.0 from 3 votes
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Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk Pavilion.
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