The Northwest Indiana Paddling Association's annual Trail Creek Fun Float is slated for Sunday. | Joan Dittmann/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2014 7:50AM
Dust off your favorite Hawaiian shirt and join the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association for a luau-themed paddle to kick off the season at Sunday’s eighth annual Trail Creek Fun Float, a paddling excursion of up to six miles starting at the Michigan City Marina in Washington Park.
“The organizers wanted to mix it up and inject some fun into the event this year with a luau and tiki theme and make it even more family-friendly. Hopefully that will also help catch the interest of everybody from advanced paddlers to those who have never paddled before,” said Dan Plath, president and founder of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association.
Participants are encouraged to wear a Hawaiian shirt or muumuu, as prizes will be awarded for the most memorable. All paddle participants will receive a lei and a free commemorative T-shirt and will be invited to a beachside luau, complete with pineapple pizza, after the paddle from 1 to 3 p.m.
“For novices, there is not a real fast current, and it’s an up-and-back course so you can turn around anytime and make it shorter,” according to Plath. “For everyone, it’s an interesting waterway — people are always struck by the changes of scenery along the way from very urbanized and then to a section with little evidence of development, like you’re in the back country. Part of that is thanks to Michigan City making a concerted effort over the last eight years or so to preserve property along Trail Creek.”
The paddle begins at the Washington Park boat launch behind docks of beautiful boats that cruise Lake Michigan. From there, paddlers go past the NIPSCO plant, under the draw bridge, then along the armory and casino and past industrial and storage buildings, before hitting the section of creek flanked by trees and singing birds, where the water often is crystal-clear.
No boat? No problem, because canoe and kayak rentals are available for $35 with advance reservations. Call Ryan, of Chicago River Canoe and Kayak, at (847) 414-5883.
Registration for the Trail Creek Fun Float begins at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. The paddle begins at 9:30 a.m. The event is free, but a donation of $5 to $10 is appreciated by the paddling association. There is a $7 daily parking fee in Washington Park.
The Northwest Indiana Paddling Association is a nonprofit committed to development and stewardship of the region’s waterways, education and connecting paddlers. The organization has about 500 members, including many who come from other states to enjoy Northwest Indiana’s waterways and paddling association events.
Two other upcoming association events for all paddling abilities are the Lake George Paddle in Hobart on June 21, which Plath says is a new association paddle that will pass through one of the region’s best birding areas; and the July 26 Everglades of the North Paddle beginning at the state line bridge along the Kankakee River in the LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area, which Plath says is one of the most beautiful spots in Indiana. He hopes the ride will coincide with the blooming of the native hibiscus.
Rentals with advance reservation also are available at both of these events.
An event designed for first-time paddlers is the Aug. 10 Robinson Lake Paddle in Hobart. Plath said this secluded lake with azure blue water is an ideal place for first-timers. Canoes and kayaks will be available, and instructors will be on hand.
For details on these events or more information on the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, visit www.nwipa.org.