Pokagon State Park advisories
- The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has adjusted services, events and operations to protect Hoosiers and prevent further spread of COVID-19. Please visit on.IN.gov/dnrcovid19 for a listing of what is open, closed, restricted and canceled.
- BLUE-GREEN ALGAE: Blue-green algae is at the ADVISORY alert level for the beach at POKAGON / POTAWATOMI INN (LAKE JAMES): Swimming and boating are permitted. Avoid contact with algae. Avoid swallowing water while swimming. Take a bath or shower with warm soapy water after coming in contact with lake water. Do not use lake water for cooking or bathing. Do not allow your pets to swim or drink water where algae are present. Check back for updates. Learn more about blue-green algae.
Upcoming Events at Pokagon State Park
- View live video from the top of the park office tower.
- Information about the Toboggan Run.
- View live video from the top of the Run (during season).
Pokagon State Park is located near Angola, just off I-69. The park was originally called Lake James State Park when proposed to be the fifth Indiana State Park in 1925. The name was changed to Pokagon State Park to acknowledge the rich Native American heritage of the state and region. Leopold and Simon Pokagon were father and son and the last two most notable leaders of the Potawatomi. The park’s Potawatomi Inn takes its name from these Native Americans, who made their home in the area. The inn, with its up-north fishing-lodge theme, is one of the Midwest’s most popular resorts and conference centers.
Being one of the state’s original parks, Pokagon features the unique work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, whose members lived and worked at Pokagon from 1934 to 1942. The “boys of the CCC” built the beautiful stone and log structures that dot the park landscape and provide accent to the rolling wooded hills, wetlands and open meadows.
Natural lakes created by glaciers that melted 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, highlight Steuben County, which has more lakes than any other Indiana county. The park is framed by Lake James and Snow Lake, which offer abundant opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing and scenic sunsets.
Pokagon is also Indiana State Parks’ winter wonderland, with cross-country ski rental, sledding, ice fishing and a twin-track toboggan run... “What a thrill”… That's what you'll say once you've experienced the quarter-mile, refrigerated toboggan run at speeds of 35-40 mph. The toboggan run operates weekends from the Friday after Thanksgiving through February, with extended hours during the Christmas holidays. For hours, more information, and to take a virtual ride, visit www.tobogganrun.com.
- Subscribe to Pokagon email newsletter
- Pokagon Interpretive Plan
The purchase and development of this site is a highly visible example of a public-private partnership to promote outdoor recreation, conserve land and preserve water quality.
- In 2006 a group of citizens and groups formed a committee to discuss the purchase of the 200-acre Oak Hill Conference and Retreat Center, which was to be auctioned at a sheriff’s sale. The group believed that conserving the site was critical to protection of the Seven Sisters chain of lakes and watershed.
- The group, led by the 101 Lakes Land Trust, approached Ralph and Sheri Trine, local business leaders and philanthropists, about assisting with the purchase. The Trines bought the property in 2006, paying $2.8 million.
- The property was transferred to DNR in 2007 with financial support from the Trines, DNR’s Indiana Heritage Trust, the Indiana Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, ACRES Land Trust, Steuben County Community Foundation, McClue Nature Reserve, Steuben County Lakes Council 101 Lakes Land Trust, Blue Heron Ministries and a number of individuals.
- Since 2007, the Trines have continued their generosity and donated building materials, furniture, flooring, appliances, and decorations to restore 12 overnight cabins and Swenson Lodge, and furnish the new Trine Welcome Center/Boat Rental Building.
Development has included the evaluation and removal of many buildings and other structures, repair/replacement of infrastructure, renovation of facilities, restoration of natural features and construction of a new welcome center.
- The property has gone through a massive overhaul since 2007 that started with the removal of non-functioning features of the former church camp. These included a three- tier swimming pool, go-kart track, paintball course, tennis courts, amphitheatre, roads, and 36 buildings.
- New construction and renovation of existing buildings for began with a new entrance road off of Feather Valley Road. It continued with renovation of the rustic dining lodge to a first-class day-use conference center (Swenson Lodge) and 12 cabins for overnight rental, construction of a paved bike path and the welcome center, and installation of a boat rental dock, a public fishing pier, and the Rolling Oaks Multipurpose Trail.
- Restoration of natural features, including a wetland and a unique fen ecosystem, were important in the development process.
- A “soft” opening was held in November 2013 to allow guests to use trails and fish. Cabins and other facilities will open on May 15, 2014.
The site has a long and well-known history in Steuben County and has historic connections to Pokagon State Park. The site will be managed as a unit of Pokagon.
- The land that is now Trine SRA was operated as Wing Haven Resort from 1948 until the early 1970s. The resort featured eight cabins, five of which were duplexes; two single units; and one dormitory setting with several rooms. The centerpiece was its rustic dining lodge.
- Helen and Ben Swenson, Potawatomi Inn managers at Pokagon in the 1930s and ’40s, owned and operated Wing Haven.
- Helen was both an artist and naturalist. All of the buildings followed the Wing Haven theme and were named after birds.
- All of the original Wing Haven buildings remain. Helen Swenson sold Wing Haven to Calvary Temple Church, based in Fort Wayne, in the early 1970s, and it was operated as Camp Calvary. Beginning in mid-1990s it was owned and managed by other church-affiliated groups and became known as the Oakhill Conference and Retreat Center.
- The site is a “State Recreation Area” because the acreage is not typical of most stand-alone Indiana State Parks. Its location is near Pokagon, and facilities complement existing Pokagon facilities.
- Cross Country Skiing
- Hiking Trails
- 8 Mile Hell's Point Hiking Challenge
- Nature Center/Interpretive Naturalist Services
- Meeting & Conference Facilities
- Playground Equipment
- Rental - Paddleboat, Rowboat and Pontoon
- Rental - Recreation Building
- Saddle Barn with escorted rides (260) 833-6007
- Sand Volley Ball Court
- Swimming / Beach (Policy)
- Toboggan Run (seasonal)
Camping - See campground maps under MAPS tab
- Electric / 200 sites
- Non-Electric / 73 sites
- Camp, Group
- Youth Tent Areas
- Dumping Station
- Camp Store
- Description of Hiking Trails
DESCRIPTION OF HIKING TRAILS
Note: For trail locations, view the property map under the MAPS tab.
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-69, passes by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)-built stone dams, and returns to Trail 3.
PLEASE STAY ON MARKED TRAILS.