Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk
The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk's location right next to an operating steel mill provides an object lesson regarding the struggle to create the park among conflicting demands for lakeshore frontage. The area features a pavilion with food services and meeting room/ classroom rental managed by the City of Portage and is a LEED-certified site. It also offers beach access, walkways along the Little Calumet River, a paved hiking/biking trail, and a fishing pier.
Century of Progress Homes from the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair
These five unique houses, each designed for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, were originally built to demonstrate modern architectural design, experimental materials, and new technologies such as central air conditioning and dishwashers. They are leased by private residents through a partnership with the National Park Service and Indiana Landmarks. Each is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Annual house tours provide opportunities for visitors to view the house interiors. For the rest of the year, visitors simply drive by to view the homes, which are interpreted via wayside exhibits.
Bailly Homestead National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark, the site interprets the pioneer trading post established in 1822 by fur trader Joseph Bailly. A number of buildings from different time periods survive as well as the Bailly Cemetery.
The Chellberg Farm reflects the challenges of sustainable agricultural success in the sandy dunes of the lakeshore and represents just one of the many European immigrant waves that moved through the region.
Once a nesting and layover site for migratory birds, the marsh was drained in the late 19th century. The National Lakeshore has begun restoration of the marsh by watershed reengineering, removing non-native plant species, and planting native plants.
The marsh features a trail with an overlook and provides visitors a glimpse of the vast freshwater wetlands that existed prior to Euro-American settlement. Spring flowers and seasonally migrating birds are highlights of the marsh.
Cowles Bog and Pinhook Bog
Cowles Bog was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1965. It is in this location that Dr. Henry Cowles conducted his initial studies of plant ecology. Visitors can watch birds and hike a trail through the bog that leads over a dune to the beach. Pinhook Bog is the second most remote of all park units and is available by guided ranger tours. The bog features a number of unique plant species.
Despite dwindling numbers of Great Blue Herons at this location, the area remains a beautiful place to see wild flowers from late March until early June, as well as birds during spring and fall migrations.
45 miles of hiking, bicycle, equestrian, and cross-country skiing trails
The trails cover an astonishing array of habitats including bog, prairie, marsh, dune, and beach. Trail hiking is often the second most popular visitor activity next to beach visits.