Hiking at Luhr Park – LaPorte Indiana

by Andie Renner-Miller
A Hidden Gem – Luhr Park, La Porte County.
     On a nice warm evening my husband and I decided to visit my favorite of the LaPorte County parks for a nice evening in nature. Luhr County Park has so much to offer. There is no fee to use this park unless you are using the dog park and I’ll have more on that later. Parking is ample, with well over 70 spots. The park is located at 3178 S. 150 West LaPorte, In 46350, just south of the LaPorte Airport. The phone number to contact the park office is 219-324-5855.

     You are not going to get a long hike at this park. I would categorize it as more of a walk in nature. There are four trails and all are classified as easy. The total of all four trails is less than 2 miles. Much of the main trail is paved and is handicap accessible, with some help to get over a couple of small gravel areas.
    Trail 4 will offer you the most typical hiking experience, this is a short trail on the far side of the lake. Other trials lead you through a beautiful wetland area, which does include some boardwalk. The Prairie Trail is paved and leads to two viewing platforms that are the newest areas of the park. This trail does have two boardwalk areas for viewing decks that could be hard to access for some wheelchairs, but these are not required to go on to complete the trail. These two viewing areas are connected by a flat ground grass trail, but again, you do not have to go on this part of the trail. You can simply go back just a bit to the paved part of the loop trail.
     There are several trail markers throughout the park that are damaged, but for the most part you will still be able to tell where you are at and where you want to go. Do be aware that the map is color coded, but the trail blazes are not, they are only numbered. Trails, natural or paved, are well maintained.
     The only trail you may get dirty on is trail four which can get really muddy. Please be aware of how muddy it is on this trail and if it looks overused skip it in the name of Leave No Trace Principles. Hiking in a muddy area that is overused can cause significant damage. Because of the wetland and pond you should do a full cover of bug spray as they can get thick out there, especially after it rains.
     Beyond the waking/hiking Luhr Park offers so much more for its users.
Luhr park has a stocked catch and release pond with plenty of room for fishing. Please note that you must have a valid Indiana fishing license. There are a couple of picnic tables, but you may want to bring your own chairs. There is also a children’s playground, exercise equipment, and a pit toilet near the pond.
     A nice bike rack is located by the new shelter and a bike repair station is located by the nature center. The new shelter is a decent size for a party or gathering and is near a restroom facility and a small playground. Also nearby the new shelter is an outdoor classroom area. There is a walnut tree that hangs over this outdoor classroom area, so be careful.
     Across the parking lot from the new shelter is the nature center. This is always a favorite because of the staff that works there. They maintain a well kept learning center with many interactive stations and programs. There is a large shelter attached to the nature center and another smaller shelter on the lawn near the Nature center. There is a restroom in the nature center building as well. In the area outside the nature center is another playground. I should also mention that along Trail One near its intersection with Trail 3 there is yet another playground for the kids.
     All shelters are available for rental. Luhr Park is home to one of the four LaPorte County Bark Parks. These are special fenced in no-leash exercise areas for dogs. This is the only fee area of the park. There is a daily fee of $3.00/day/dog for LaPorte County residents and $4.00/day/dog for out of county residents. There is also the option to pay an annual fee of $30.00 for the first dog for LaPorte County Residents and $40.00 for the first dog for out of county residents. The fee for each additional dog is $10.00 per dog for in or out of county residents. The fee does permit use at any of the four dog parks in the county. If there is no form available at the bark park in Luhr Park at the time you can obtain a registration from the Small animal Shelter on highway 2 during open hours.
     There are several rules for using the dog park so please check the website. The rules are also on a large sign posed at the park and can be found in the pictures of the sign and pamphlet here.
     This is not a park I would recommend to the adventure seeking hiker. This is more of a calm nature walk, but a beautiful one that everyone should take. There are usually several people at this park at any time of day, so solitude may be hard to come by here. This is a great park for families. My hike is going to be different from your hike.       
     Everyone has a different level of ability and so we will cover as many varied places as we can. Enjoy nature and remember to take nothing but your trash, pictures and memories with you when you leave.

Sue Baxter