ST. JOSEPH — The Berrien County Parks Department has recently received two community donations that will benefit visitors.

Whirlpool Corp. and Bike Michiana Coalition made a donation of mountain bikes to Love Creek County Park in Berrien Center. Eight adult and six children’s mountain bikes are now available. The adult bikes can be rented for $10 per hour and children’s bikes are free with an adult bike rental.

Love Creek has had wide-tired “phat” bikes for winter riding, but this is the first time they have had mountain bikes for rental, according to Derek Pelc, chief naturalist.

“When I became aware of this donation, I was thrilled,” said Pelc. “What another incredible attraction for people to get out and enjoy nature, the trails and the amenities at the nature center. The fact that parents don’t have to load, unload and secure their own bikes is time-saving. Also, for people that don’t have mountain bikes or are considering purchasing a mountain bike, this is a great way to sample this fun outdoor activity.”

Love Creek has 2.5 miles of biking and hiking trails.

This will be a great addition for the park’s annual Biketoberfest event, set for Oct. 6, Pelc said. This will be make bikes available for novice riders, and will allow staff to have more kids’ activities, he said.

The park staff remind people to always ride safely, wear a helmet and respect nature and other people in the park. Love Creek County Park is located at 9292 Huckleberry Road, Berrien Center and the office number is 471-2617.

On Thursday, during the Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting, Parks Director Brian Bailey received a $1,000 donation from the Berrien Community Foundation for the purchase of a beach mat for Rocky Gap Park in Benton Township. The presentation was made by Lisa Cripps-Downey, president of the foundation, and Susan Matheny, program manager.

Rocky Gap Park has a ramp leading down to the beach from the parking lot, Bailey explained, and the mat will provide further access to the 1,100-foot long beach and water for those in wheelchairs, visitors using strollers and others with limited mobility. The mat is expected to be in place by the end of the month.

If the addition works out, the department will look at adding a mat at Silver Beach, Bailey said.

The website for information about Berrien County parks is www.berriencounty/parks.

Contact:, 932-0360, Twitter: @HPMatuszak