Published: Friday, 12 June 2015 04:45
Pokagon State Park Driving Tour
In 1925, the residents of Steuben County purchased 580 acres along with shores of Lake James and Snow Lake as a Christmas gift to the state of Indiana. Another 127 acres were added by the state to total 707 acres. Currently, Pokagon State Park has 1,260 acres of woods and shoreline.
Entering Pokagon State Park on State Road 727, you will notice a small lake on the left side of the road. This is Lake Lonidaw, a “kettle lake” formed as the Wisconsin Glacier retreated. Lake Lonidaw has a creek that leads into the lower basin of Lake James. This lake is named in honor of the wife of the Potawatomi Indian Chief Simon Pokagon.
At the main entrance gate, you will see two gate houses. The gatehouse on the right is the original gatehouse constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1935. The gatehouse on the left was built in 1989.
As you follow the park road, the next building on the right is the saddle barn. This was constructed by the CCC in 1937. This barn is the starting point of the horse trail rides through the park. As you continue through the park, you pass under the County Road Bridge. This was constructed by the CCC and completed in 1936.
Taking the second right after the bridge, you will head to the Pokagon campgrounds. This area consists of five campgrounds and 278 individual sites, a group camp and a youth tent area. The entrance to this area is marked by the campground gatehouse and a camper’s store. Take the first right after the gatehouse to enter campground 3. This is the largest of the campgrounds and has 97 individual sites.
When leaving campground 3, you will notice the entrance to campground 4, an electric campground, and campground 2, a non-electric campground. Turning left leads to the entrance to the camping area. At the camper’s store, turn right at the second entrance and follow the lane past the store. On the left, you will see the Black Cherry Shelter and picnic area. Turn left at the road and you will notice the CCC Shelter on the right hand side. This shelter was built by the CCC in 1935-36 and is on the hillside above the Pokagon main beach and bathhouse.
Passing back under the County Road Bridge, follow the road to the second right turn. This will lead to the nature center, which was built in 1980 and remodeled in 1989. This is the central location for interpretive programming at the park.
Returning to the main road, on the right side you will see the toboggan slide tower. This is a ¼ mile refrigerated track. The first toboggan slide was built by the CCC in 1935. There have been several changes to the slide. It was refrigerated in 1971 and completely remodeled, with the warming center added in 1986.
Following the road around the loop and back to the main gate, turn right at the yield sign, continuing back past the toboggan and saddle barn. Turn on the third entrance on the right, into the Potawatomi Inn. The Inn was built in 1927. There have been several additions to the Inn, the most recent being the addition of the conference center and additional rooms in 1995. The Potawatomi Inn has 137 rooms, including the cabins. Also available are conference facilities, a restaurant, café and gift shop plus many other amenities for Inn guests.
Published: Tuesday, 09 June 2015 01:34
Prior to 1991, bald eagles had not nested in Indiana for more than a century. Before the summer of 2013, the same could be said of bald eagles in Steuben County! Nearly 20 years ago, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources began releasing a handful of bald eagles on large reservoirs in south-central Indiana. The reintroduction of a bird that last nested in Indiana back in the 1800's proved to be successful.
The elimination of harmful pesticides, the re-establishment of natural wetlands and undeveloped lakes, the cleaning of rivers and waterways and laws protecting them as individuals all played roles in their recovery. They reproduced and began expanding their range.
We knew a few years ago it would be just a matter of time before a pair of bald eagles passing through, or even wintering in our beautiful lakes country, would find it attractive enough to stick around in the summer and build a nest. What we did not expect was for the first pair to pick one of the busiest of our 101 lakes and a very busy state park, but that's exactly what they did.
The first nest in more than a century successfully produced a pair of young eagles. The birds found it so much to their liking that this year they have returned to the same Pokagon State Park nest site, high in a tall oak, along the Lake James shore, within view of Snow Lake. When visiting the park or anywhere within a short flight of Lake James this summer, watch for this magnificent national symbol soaring over the waters or perched along the shoreline. (Photos courtesy of Lana White Lee and information courtesy Pokagon State Park)
Published: Monday, 30 April 2012 18:54
Hiking and Biking Trails
1. MODERATE (2 miles)—Trail from Inn past Nature Center to Apple Orchard picnic area through hardwood forest. Crosses road at bridge, continues as the bicycle trail to saddle barn and back to Inn. A good trail for woodland birds and spring flowers.
2. MODERATE (2.2 miles)—Begins on main park road near gatehouse, goes through rolling land, past Spring Shelter, through hardwood forest. Terminates at Campground 1.
3. MODERATE (2.2 miles)—Interesting trail leading through Potawatomi Nature Preserve, with varied habitats of marsh land, deep hardwood forests, pines and sand hills; panoramic view of area from trail overlook at Hell’s Point. Returns to Potawatomi Inn.
4. EASY (1.4 mile)—Begins near gatehouse (with Trail 2) and extends to Trail 5 through campgrounds near amphitheatre. A variety of habitats is offered in pine trees, hardwood forest and rolling land.
5. EASY (.7 mile)—Begins near Campground 1 and goes past Group Camp to beach; passes through deep woods; a good trail to observe birds and spring flowers.
6. MODERATE (.7 mile)—Trail through primitive area, including swamp. Begins and ends on Trail 3. A good trail to observe marshland plants and animals.
7. BLUEBIRD HILLS TRAIL-MODERATE (1.8 miles)—The trail starts just below Hell’s Point on Trail 3 and makes a large loop before returning to the starting point. This is mostly open, rolling hills. Grasslands support native prairie plants typical of the land before it was farmed. Restored wetlands among the hills provide homes for many species that prefer this habitat.
8. MODERATE (1 mile)—Our newest trail leaves Trail 3 just west of Hell’s Point and heads north, crosses a county road, and traverses open, rolling hills, which are being managed to return to meadowlands. Future plans will connect trail to the nearby ACRES Land Trust Beechwood Nature Preserve.
9. MODERATELY RUGGED (1.7 miles)—Leaves Trail 3 and goes east through wooded swamps and young forests. Touches the former site of the “Pokagon Motel” on Indiana 127, near I-69, passes by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)-built stone dams, and returns to Trail 3.
Bike rental is available at the Potawatomi Inn and the camp store for $8 per hour, $20 for a half-day and $25 for all day (prices subject to change.) Pokagon offers a 1.6 mile hard-surface bike trail. You may also ride on the roads throughout the park.
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