Submitted by Sarah Smenyak
The Calumet trail, stretches from Mineral Springs Road, in Porter, into Michigan City, along the National park, the State Park and the Dunes Park Train Station. On the west end of the Calumet Trail at Mineral Springs Road, it connects to the Prairie Duneland Trail which has several pedestrian bridges over hwy 12 and 20, goes through Bailey Homestead and through the historic town of Porter Indiana and continues south and west through Hobart and beyond.
The Calumet Trail is an important part of an incredible interconnected trail system in the region. Currently it is possible to ride a bike (or walk, if you were very dedicated) from Chesterton to the south side of Chicago on mostly safe and paved trails that wind through many of the Region’s natural resource areas.
The Marquette Greenway master plan, details existing trails, as well as planned trails and trail improvements. Two exciting trail connections that will begin construction soon are the National Lakeshore Connector Trail (Through Burns Harbor and Ogden Dunes) and the Singing Sands Trail (Through Michigan City, eventually into Southwest Michigan).
The Calumet trail already exists. Nipsco owns the property and the Porter County Park Department is a partner in maintaining the trail. HOWEVER… currently it is mostly unusable. As it stands it is mostly large gravel, gravel that is too big for most people to ride bikes on or even run on comfortably. In addition to the gravel, there are many spots, especially east of the train station, that are impassable due to high water. You cannot ride a bike or even walk through these areas. And don’t even think of trying to push a small child in a stroller on the trail.
This trail could be a fantastic community resource for runners, cyclists, nature lovers, families, and visitors to our amazing park system. As well as an important part of the Marquette Greenway. Porter County has had plans to improve this trail for years. And many local advocacy groups have long been pushing for trail improvements. Money, is always an issue, but money is available. Grants have been on the table before. Also the state of Indiana is currently accepting applications for millions of dollars in state grants, through the Next Level Trails program.
The Calumet Trail could be so many things to so many people:
It Could be a great connector from the Prairie Duneland trail and the Marquette Greenway trails, to all the lakeshore amenities.
It Could showcase the United State’s newest National Park as a destination, connecting the Cowles Bog Area to the National Park Visitors center and campground.
It Could help the local economy through the pedal power of local and visiting cyclists stopping at businesses both near the Calumet trail and the Prairie Duneland trail.
It Could help stimulate tourism to both the National and State Parks, thereby bringing in money from outside the area, that would benefit our communities.
It Could help the environment by allowing more people to get to the lakeshore without driving their cars.
It Could allow people to access the Dunes Park train station via bicycle.
It Could be an accessible way for people with disabilities to access the amazing flora and fauna along the trails
But making the Calumet trail a USABLE part of Porter County’s plans, seems to be stalled somewhere. Let’s help un-stall it.
Public support is what is needed to make this a reality. There is an online petition advocating for trail improvements. It takes just a few seconds to sign.
The Porter County Commissioners need to hear from you that this trail is important. Their next meeting is at 10am, on Tuesday Aug, 13th, in the commissioner’s chambers of the Porter County Administration Center.
The Porter County Commissioners are: North County – Jim Biggs Valparaiso – Jeff Good South County – Laura Blaneyarah