For a day out in nature, be sure to check out Oak Ridge Prairie in Griffith, IN. With its 965 acres, Oak Ridge Prairie is the regional hub for both the Oak Savannah and Erie Lackawanna Trails. Up Next From the park, you could take a bike trail up to Hammond, over to Porter County, or down to Crown Point. The prairie is home to many native plants and animals and is excellent for bird watching. Additionally, the park features two large playgrounds and 5 miles of hiking trails. Popular Features of Oak Ridge Prairie include Restrooms; Cross country ski rental from December through February; Cross country ski trails; a Sledding hill (no toboggans, snowboards or metal runners); Hayrides (tractor drawn, September through October); Catfish Fishing (fee/stocked) in the summer; a Fishing pier; Barbeque pits; Picnic shelters/Picnic tables; and Volleyball nets. The Park is open 7 a.m. to sunset year round and is located at 301 South Colfax Street in Griffith, IN 46319. Local Info

Perhaps the best feature of the Prairie is that it is home to the west trailhead of the Oak Savannah Trail, a free paved trail with a difficulty level of ‘easy’. Parking at Oak Ridge Prairie is preferred, as the east trailhead does not provide restrooms or potable water. This trail is part of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission Greenways and Blueways trail system, traveling 9.5 miles between Hobart and Griffith in northern Indiana’s Chicago metropolitan area. The trail, together with the Prairie Duneland Trail in the east, serves as a backbone in northwestern Indiana’s 17.8 mile trail network. US Bicycle Route 36 also runs the length of the two trails on its way between Chicago and the Michigan border.

With a beautiful natural prairie as its backdrop, the trail is open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. Following the entire route would have you beginning on Hobart Street, at the western end of the Prairie Dunland Trail in Hobart. From there, you’ll pass through the 300-acre Hobart Prairie Grove section of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The route also takes you along the edge of Lake George. From the trail bridge at the lake, you can walk onto platforms overlooking the neck of the lake between the its larger main bodies. Beyond the lake, the trail goes west through the oak savanna ecosystems before coming to yet another lake at John Robinson Park.

A more urban environment leads you to the I-65 underpass, several road crossings and an additional underpass below Broadway in Gary. After a couple of blocks, you return to the prairie to pass a large private fishing club and the county airport runway. Dense forest marks the entrance of Oak Ridge Prairie Park. At more than 200 acres, most of the park represents former farmland that has been restored to oak savanna prairie. Just beyond the park, in Griffith, the trail connects to the Erie Lackawanna Trail, taking you to Crown Point and Hammond.

Certainly not for the beginner but a trail worth walking, jogging, biking or running to experience the sheer beauty.