Parks and Facilities
Porter County parks and recreational facilities provide the ideal space to enjoy the great outdoors when it’s sunny – and when it’s not! Whether you’re looking to let the children run loose or looking to lose yourself in beautifully maintained trails, put play in your day and visit one of our parks. Recreational facilities are open daily from dusk until dawn and free of charge.
Sunset Hill Farm County Park
775 Merdian Road, Valparaiso
Something for everyone
Sunset Hill Farm County Park is a hub of activity in Porter County. We offer a variety of events and festivals, hiking trails, camps, field trips and fitness programs year round. Whether you are a hiker or a birdwatcher, a runner or a gardener, a parent with active kids or an enthusiast of antique farm equipment, we have something for you at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.
The park began as a fully functional farm and private residence, purchased by Colonel Robert Heffron Murray and his wife, Sue, in 1934. The original property consisted of 80 acres. Within a year of living there, the Murrays had 1,000 chickens and sold eggs and broilers to local residents. During its most productive period, the farm also produced 400 gallons of milk a day.
The property continued to grow, until it reached its current size of 238 acres. After Colonel Murray passed away in 1972, his estate donated the land to Porter County. Now, thousands of people enjoy Sunset Hill Farm County Park every year thanks to his generous legacy.
Walk the Hill Walking Club
Brincka Cross Gardens
427 Furness Road, Pine Township
An oasis of natural beauty
The Brincka Cross Gardens property was developed by an artist, and it is clear that this was his masterpiece. Bill Brincka was a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, and his creativity can be seen throughout the gardens. Bill and his companion, Basil Cross, spent more than 40 years developing and nurturing four acres of landscaped gardens, which are surrounded by another 21 acres of pristine woodlands.
Bill and Basil lived in the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home on the property until Bill’s death, in 2001. After Basil passed away in 2006, Porter County Parks and Recreation purchased the property to create a public park. Our staff, lead by horticulturalist Matt Brown, have since reclaimed many of the original gardens, clearing overgrowth and invasive plants to reveal the beauty of the landscape that was cultivated with such care by the original owners.
The gardens boast 400 different types of hostas, 450 varieties of daffodils, 25 kinds of crab apple trees, 40 cultivars of ornamental grasses and 25 varieties of forsythias. And that’s just for starters. You have to come out to the gardens and experience them for yourself to truly understand how special this property truly is.
500 E. over Kankakee River, Kouts
A piece of Porter County history
The origin of Dunn’s Bridge has become the stuff of legend. Most historians agree that the bridge was built by a farmer named J.D. Dunn, whose property was bisected by the Kankakee River. But beyond that, the facts are a bit murky. Some say the bridge was built in the mid-1890s using steel beams salvaged from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Others contend the bridge was built using pieces of the original Ferris Wheel, which premiered at the 1893 World’s Fair, and was dismantled after 1904 World’s Fair.
Porter County Parks and Recreation purchased the 180-foot-long bridge and surrounding three acres in 1994, and undertook an award-winning restoration that helped land the bridge on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge offers the only designated public access to the Kankakee River in Porter County, allowing fishermen and paddlers to launch their boat here and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. Those who enjoy fishing can cast for walleye, bass, crappie, bluegill and northern pike, among others.
The bridge is an exceptional piece of county history, and serves as an access point to some of the most unique environmental features in the area.
New programs will be available at Dunn's Bridge this coming spring. To view a full listing of our program offerings, visit our Calendar section.
Entrances along U.S. 12 at Mineral Springs Road and the Porter/LaPorte County Line
Walk (or ride) along the Dunes’ edge
This 9.1-mile trail is the perfect place to walk, run, bike, cross-country ski, or snowshoe. The grassland prairie habitat is home to a huge variety of wildflower and bird species that add to the picturesque surroundings.
The trail crosses through the eastern portion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and many beautiful spots are a short distance away, including several Lake Michigan beaches, the Calumet Dune Interpretive Center, Mount Baldy and Cowles Bog. It also skirts the south edge of Indiana Dunes State Park, where you will find 16.5 miles of hiking trails, beautiful beaches, a birding observation tower, and more.
New programs will be available at the Calumet Trail this coming spring. To view a full listing of our program offerings, visit our Calendar section.
Please call us for more information on renting our facilities
If you have any maintenance related questions or concerns please feel free to Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.