Portage is a nice community in Southern Michigan with miles of bike routes and trails, as well as many
well-maintained parks for outdoor fun. The Crossroads Mall, the Air Zoo, and Celery Flats are favorite attractions for visitors.
Portage Area Parks
- Celery Flats is a beautiful park with several historic locations and a sparkling fountain. A gazebo, playground and restrooms are just west of the parking area. The park is a good starting point for the Portage Bikeway since you can go four different directions from the park to reach Portage Creek Bicentennial Park, Veterans Memorial Park, the trail along Lovers Lane, and other locations. Portage Creek flows along the park, and you can rent canoe from the Celery Flats' canoe livery.
- Central Park is a small park located behind the police station, off Shaver Road. The Overlander Bandshell at the park is used for concerts during the summer. The Portage Creek gently flows through the park. Tall trees provide shade for a nice playground, a picnic shelter, and restrooms.
- Harbors West Park is a rectangular park in a residential area on the northwest side of Portage. Athletic facilities at the park include a basketball court, volleyball court and small inline hockey rink. A picnic shelter, playground, and restrooms are not far from the parking lot. A paved trail loops through the park, with the eastern portion of the trail ending at Angling Road.
- Haverhill Park has tennis courts, basketball hoops, and a small inline hockey rink. A playground with a playscape and swings
is located just north of the restrooms. A portion of the Portage Bikeway meanders through the park.
- Lakeview Park is a great spot for family gatherings. It has two picnic shelters, an abundance of facilities, and beautiful views of Austin Lake. Athletic facilities include a ball field, basketball court, tennis courts, and sand volleyball courts. Two wooden piers can be used for fishing on Austin Lake. A paved trail winds and loops around a majority of the park, and an unpaved trail meanders near the canal that connects Austin Lake and West Lake.
- Lexington Green Park is on the northeast side of Portage, in a residential area east of Sprinkle Road. The park has a ball field, tennis courts, and basketball courts. A playground and shelter are at the center of the park, and a second picnic shelter is on the south side of the park.
- Liberty Park is a narrow park, offering a relaxing spot along Westnedge Avenue.
- Millennium Park is on the north side of Romence Road. During the majority of the year, it's a scenic park with a reflecting pool, restrooms and access to the Portage Bikeway. During the winter, the park has an outdoor ice rink for skating. A parking area is located off the drive, on the north side of the park.
- Oakland Drive Park has tennis courts, basketball courts, a ball field, and soccer field. A nice playscape, picnic shelter and restrooms are at the center of the park. During the winter, a hill at the park can be used for sledding.
- Portage Creek Bicentennial Park is on the south side of Milham Road. A shelter, playground, and restrooms are close to the parking area. On the east side of the park, a nature trail curves through a wooded area that has wildflowers during the summer. The park is a good spot to access the Portage Bikeway.
- Ramona Park features a sandy swimming beach and fishing pier on beautiful Long Lake. A bath house, picnic shelter, picnic tables, volleyball courts, and playground are located not far from the beach. The park has athletic facilities for team sports, including football fields, ball diamonds, and soccer fields. A picnic shelter, playground and restrooms are located near the ball fields.
An admission fee is required to use the beach.
- Schrier Park has several trails for hiking and jogging. The park also has a playground, picnic tables, and a building for gatherings.
- South Westnedge Park has a nice, large skate park with concrete ramps and hills. It also several ball diamonds, including lights for night games. A soccer field is located on the west side of the park.
- Trailhead Park provides access to the Portage Bikeway on the southwest corner of Kilgore Road and Lovers Lane. The park has restrooms and a drinking fountain, not far from the paved trail.
- Veterans Memorial Park has an orchard with a paved trail in front of the Portage District Library. A veterans memorial with
flags and markers is on the east side of the park.
- West Lake Nature Preserve has woodchip covered trails and observation areas for enjoying nature. A playground, small shelter and restrooms are next to the parking area.
- Westend Park is on the north side of Milham Road, west of US-131. The rectangular park has soccer field, ball diamond, sand volleyball court, basketball courts, and tennis courts. A small picnic shelter and picnic tables are on the southeast side of the park, not far from some restrooms.
Portage Area Trails
You'll find plenty of recreation trails for outdoor adventures in Portage.
The Portage Bikeway
offers over 17 miles of paved trails, used for biking, walking, jogging, and roller-blading. Much of the trail system has dotted lines down the center, like a road, with slower traffic staying on the right and faster trail users passing on the left. The trail system connects several parks and is located along several streets within Portage. You can access the trails from several places:
- The northern trailhead is at the corner of Kilgore Road and Lovers Lane; it has a paved parking lot, with restrooms and a drinking fountain near the trail.
- The southern trailhead for the paved trail system is at South Westnedge Park, where you can access the trail along Shaver Road. Hikers can also access the Bishop's Bog Trail from South Westnedge Park.
- The western trailhead is on McGillicuddy Lane, about a quarter of mile south of Milham Road. The trail ends at the sidewalk along McGillicuddy Lane.
- Portage Creek Bicentennial Park, Celery Flats, Haverhill Park, and Millennium Park have parking lots near the trail system with nearby restrooms. The parks also have restrooms and other facilities. You can also see several historic locations at Celery Flats from the trail.
In addition to the paved trail system, Portage has several parks with trails. Harbors West Park and Lakeview Park have paved paths that loop around the parks. Schrier Park, Bishop's Bog Preserve, and West Lake Nature Preserve have trails for hiking and jogging.
See the maps page
for the locations of trails in the Portage area.
Portage has an abundance of bike lanes and bike routes. It's easy to ride around town, especially when you combine the bike lanes with the Portage Bikeway paved trail system. The terrain differs from street to street, so you can mix things up and enjoy varied rides. Along Lovers Lane, Romence Road and Milham Road, the terrain is sometimes hilly, while Oakland Drive, Shaver Road, and Sprinkle Road are generally flat.
The bike route along Lovers Lane can be used to reach the bike route that leads to downtown Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.
For longer adventures, you can ride to a few nearby communities. Using Texas Drive or Q Avenue, you can share the road and ride on the outside edge of the vehicle lane to reach Texas Township. From Texas Township, you can use the paved shoulder along 8th Street and W Avenue to bike 8.5 miles to downtown Schoolcraft. From Schoolcraft, you can ride 5.5 miles to Vicksburg using the shoulder bike routes along W Avenue or VW Avenue. You can ride back to Portage from Vicksburg using the shoulder bike routes along Portage Road to Bacon Road (4 miles) or Sprinkle Road to Romence Parkway (7 miles).
See the maps page
for the location of bike routes.
Always stay alert, ride with caution, and obey traffic laws when riding along the road.
Before you go, it's a good idea to check the
State of Michigan's construction database
to make sure there will not be any construction on the road that can interfere with your ride.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Celery Flats has a canoe livery on Portage Creek, where rent a canoe. You can paddle about a little over a mile north to the Milham Road Boat Landing and Portage Creek Bicentennial Park. It is a one-way trip, and you will either need to walk back to Celery Flats using the Portage Bikeway trail or else have a car waiting for you at Bicentennial Park. Depending on how much rainfall has occured recently, the water level of the creek can be shallow. For details about the canoe livery and renting canoes, see the City of Portage's Canoe Livery page.
At Long Lake, you can launch a kayak at the Michigan DNR access site off South Long Lake Drive. Long Lake is a sparkling lake, just east of Sprinkle Road.
At Austin Lake, you can use the the Michigan DNR access site to launch your kayak. Austin Lake is a very beautiful lake and is a popular place for recreational boaters. There is a vault toilet near the boat launch. You need a
Michigan Recreation Passport
to use this access site. To get to the access site from Portage Road, take Woodbine Avenue east to the end and then take a right.
Austin Lake is a large, sparkling body of water within the Portage city limits. The lake is very popular for boating. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has a boat launch on the lake, which is accessible from Woodbine Avenue. The site has parking for vehicles with boat trailers and a vault toilet nearby. You need a Michigan Recreation Passport
to use the access site.
At Long Lake, there is a Michigan DNR access site off South Long Lake Drive. During the summer, you'll often see pontoon boats, watercraft and other boats on the water.
There a few lakes around the Portage area where you can go fishing.
- Austin Lake is the largest lake in the area and has bass, trout, bluegill and crappie. Lakeview Park has two fishing piers on the western shore of the lake. The south fishing pier has a roof.
- Long Lake is known for largemouth bass, sunfish,and bluegill. There is a wooden fishing pier at Ramona Park on the western shore of the lake.
- West Lake has bullhead, bluegill, and bass. Fishing is allowed from the shore of West Lake Nature Preserve. You will need to hike to the lakeshore from the parking lot at the park.
A Michigan fishing license is required to fish on Michigan lakes and waterways, and you can get a fishing license online at the
Michigan DNR E-License web site
Anytime of year, the Air Zoo in Portage is worth a visit, especially for kids. The 3D Space Shuttle Ride takes you on a trip to the International Space Station. The Air Zoo has cool flight simulators where you can take the controls of a fighter jet, fly a Cessna 172 Skyhawk to Chicago, take flight over Southwest Michigan, take a trip to Mars, or many other adventures.
Over 50 aircraft are in the Air Zoo's collection of rare and historic planes. You can see the SR-71B Blackbird spy plane, vintage World War II fighters, a B-25 Mitchell bomber, a F-14 Tomcat, a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, the F/A-18A Hornet fighter, and many more.
The Air Zoo is also home to the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, which includes several NASA Astronauts: Roger B. Chaffee, David C. Leestma, Jerry M. Linenger, Jack R. Lousma, Brewster H. Shaw Jr., and Alfred M. Worden.
The Air Zoo is on Portage Road, about a mile south of I-94. See the Air Zoo's web site
for more details.
More About Portage
During the late 1800s, Portage was a prolific producer of celery and earned the nickname of "Celery City." At the Celery Flats Historical Area, you'll find many historic locations that go back to Portage's early days. The oldest residence in Portage, the Stuart Manor, was built in 1846 and is rumored to have been part of the Underground Railroad. A charming old school house, built in 1856, is located nearby. Close to the old school, you'll find the Hayloft Theatre, which was built in 1902 and relocated to Celery Flats in 1992. The oldest remaining commercial structure in Portage, the Portage Grain Elevator/Feed Mill, is located at the park and was built in 1931.
Portage has lots of shopping choices along Westnedge Avenue. The Crossroads Mall
is a shopping destination, with Macy's, JC Penney, Sears, and many other stores. Meijer, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, Dunham's Sports, and many other shops are along Westnedge Avenue, south of I-94.