Flawless fall days signal an ideal time of year to experience your favorite outdoor activities in and around LaPorte County. Lake Michigan laps the shores of Michigan City, where fishing charters head out to reel in prize catches. Trees ablaze with fall colors draw hikers to county parks, city parks, and Indiana Dunes National Park just west of town. Bicyclists find their own pace on both easy-going treks and challenging longer rides. And golfers still have time to tee up at pristine courses in the communities of LaPorte and Michigan City.
Add in disc golf, plus parks with playground equipment the kids will love, and the whole family can set a course for outdoor adventure. As the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall
Finding Your Outdoor Spot
Outdoor enclaves abound in LaPorte County. Here are some top places for hiking, biking, playing, or just picking out a perfect bench to bask in the sun and surrounding peace. See additional details under “One-of-a-Kind Activities” below.
Bluhm County Park, Westville – Multiple-use trails, many paved, for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Creek Ridge County Park, Michigan City – Boardwalks and trails ideal for walking next to Trail Creek, plus playground equipment and a disc golf course.
Luhr County Park, LaPorte – Paved trails, a stocked pond for fishing, and an observation tower, plus new playground equipment and a no-leash dog park. Hands-on exhibits for kids in the Nature Center.
Red Mill County Park, LaPorte – Hiking and mountain bike trails traversing the park, which includes a State Dedicated Nature Preserve and new playground equipment.
Sebert Woods County Park, Michigan City – LaPorte County’s newest park, featuring a half-mile dirt hiking trail through a Northern Woods-type forest.
Washington Park, Michigan City – Two miles of pristine sand beach along Lake Michigan perfect for walking and shell seeking, plus a long pier to the 1904 lighthouse.
Soldiers Memorial Park, LaPorte – Still time for some fishing and kayaking at Stone Lake, located in the park where trails lead through woodlands to nearby Pine Lake and a bike trail passes both lakes.
Kesling Park, LaPorte – A walking and nature trail and great playground equipment at Fort La Play Porte, plus a disc golf course.
Purdue Northwest Disc Golf Course, Westville – Great 21-hole disc golf course located on campus.
“I could never resist the call of the trail.” – Buffalo Bill
Bicycle Trails on GPS – Download 20 bicycle routes ranging from 13 to 30 miles to your iPhone with the LaPorte County Shared Bikeways “Ride with GPS” program. The app gives route details such as distance, elevation changes, and stops along the way for food, exploration, or just taking a break. Different routes provide a host of outdoor scenery, directing cyclists along quiet roads that connect county parks, communities, city parks, and attractions. Go to www.ridewithgps.com.
Singing Sands Trail, Michigan City – The Singing Sands Trail is Michigan City’s portion of the developing multi-state Marquette Greenway Trail from Illinois through Northern Indiana to Michigan. The completed Singing Sands Trail in Michigan City runs parallel to U.S. 12 (Michigan Street) and ends at Liberty Street. On the western end, the Singing Sands Trail connects with Calumet Trail and leads to connections that run through Indiana Dunes National Park.
United States Bicycle Route 35 – This multi-state trail has gone international. LaPorte County marks the starting point of the route, known as USBR35, a 380-mile cycling route that travels through 16 counties to the southern tip of Indiana. The route ultimately connects with other states as part of a national cycling network combining off-road trails, bicycle lanes, and low-traffic roads. The route now travels from southern Indiana north through Michigan to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, just across the Canadian border.
Indiana Dunes National Park and State Park – Some 50 miles of hiking trails traverse dunes and inland forests at this haven along Lake Michigan beaches just west of Michigan City. Here are some options and unique challenges:
● The Calumet Dunes Trail – A half-mile hike on a paved surface, featuring the Calumet Dunes ridge, which was the shoreline of Lake Michigan more than 12,000 years ago.
● Great Marsh Trail – An easy 1-hour trek with views of the largest wetland complex in the Lake Michigan Watershed, with a separate wheelchair-accessible trail.
● Cowles Bog Trail – A moderate to rugged 4-hour hike past ponds, marshes, and swamps with such plant diversity that it was designated a National Natural Landmark.
● 1966 Hiking Challenge – There’s still time to join a ranger-led hike, one of 19 that cover a total of 66 miles to commemorate the park’s 1966 founding. Hikes range from 1 to 7 miles at 8am each Saturday through Sept. 16.
● Three Dune Challenge – Tackle the three tallest sand dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park on a 1.5-mile trail that includes 552 vertical feet to climb.
● Diana of the Dunes Challenge – At West Beach, follow in the steps of an early adventurer in the Diana of the Dunes Challenge, which takes hikers up wooden stairways and dunes to lofty overlooks.
Reel ’Em In
Lake Michigan Fishing Charters – Henry David Thoreau may have reflected the belief of modern-day anglers when he said, “Everyone should believe in something. I believe I’ll go fishing.”
And there’s no fishing like casting for the big ones in Lake Michigan! Numerous professional charter boat captains share their skills and provide all the equipment on half-day and day-long excursions from Michigan City, plying the waters for Coho salmon, trout, perch, and more. After all, the community is known as “The Coho Capital of the World.”
Don’t put those golf clubs away yet! There’s no better time to perfect that swing and putt than autumn with cooler temps and sunny days. LaPorte County’s four courses attract both novices and experts. All have fully stocked pro shops, and some offer great dining on the property. As one unknown wag said, “The grass is always greener on the golf course.”
Beechwood Golf Course, LaPorte – Autumn color bursts along tree-lined fairways at this 18-hole championship course with a traditional layout and holes that encourage golfers to use every club in their bag. Beechwood offers a clubhouse, concessions, driving range, putting green, and chipping and pitching area.
Briar Leaf Golf Club, LaPorte – Golfers of all skills and ages are attracted to this 18-hole course, which offers challenging greens, including an island green, water features on eight holes, rolling hills, and plenty of sand. Three different tee-offs give options for distance. Briar Leaf’s Portofino Grill is a popular fine dining restaurant. The course also offers a casual burger shop and pro shop.
Legacy Hills Golf Club, LaPorte – A tunnel under the street connects the front and back nine at Legacy Hills, which opened more than 100 years ago and has been updating ever since. Players note strategic differences between the front and back courses, both with well-groomed greens and fairways. After a round, enjoy dinner overlooking the course at Bistro on the Greens, serving Southern and Midwest fare.
Michigan City Municipal Golf Course – Golfers of all ages and skill levels flock to the two 18-hole courses in Michigan City. The par-60 North Course is an excellent course for beginners, with about half the number of yards as the more challenging South Course. The peaceful setting boasts trees showing off autumn colors mixed with evergreens along well-maintained fairways. Known as one of the region’s top public courses, the Michigan City Municipal Golf Course also features a practice green, golf practice area, pro shop, snack shop, and bar serving beer and wine.