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Pokagon State Park Guide — Hiking, Toboggan Run, and More 

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Indiana’s Pokagon State Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. The main attraction here is the Toboggan Run, but there are also countless relaxed activities like paddling on the pristine lakes, hiking through verdant forests, fishing, and horseback riding. With so many activities available, Pokagon State Park truly has something for everyone.

How To Get to Pokagon State Park

Where Is Pokagon State Park?

Pokagon State Park is located in Angola, Indiana. The park is about 170 miles northeast of Indianapolis. It stretches over 1,200 acres and consists of lakes, woodlands, meadows, and beaches.

Pokagon State Park Opening Hours and Seasons

Pokagon State Park is open year-round. Visitors are welcome to explore the park from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Some facilities and activities, like the Nature Center and Toboggan Run, have unique operating hours.

Nearest Airports to Pokagon State Park

Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) is the closest major airport to the park. This airport offers nonstop flights to 13 destinations, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Tampa. Airlines serviced here include Allegiant, American, Delta, and United. It takes about an hour to get to the park from this airport. You can easily rent a car at one of the kiosks in the airport.

Driving to Pokagon State Park

Driving to Pokagon State Park is simple and straightforward, no matter what direction you are coming from. This state park is located off Interstate 69. From the interstate, take exit 354 and continue west on IN-727. Follow the signs until you reach the park’s entrance.

Taking the Train to Pokagon State Park

This park has no direct train service, but Amtrak has a line that will get you close. Amtrak offers service to Waterloo, Indiana, about 23 minutes from the park. Once you arrive at this station, you can arrange a ride-share service or taxi to the park.

Taking the Bus to Pokagon State Park

Taking a bus allows you to sit back and enjoy the sights while letting someone else take over the stress of driving in an unfamiliar city. Greyhound provides service to Angola, where the park is located. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the park from this Greyhound station.

Getting Around Pokagon State Park

The best way to get around this state park is to combine driving and exploring on foot. The park has several parking areas, so you can drive to different attractions, park your car, and walk to the different sites. The park offers a printable map to help you plan your outings.

What To See and Do in Pokagon State Park

There’s no shortage of things to see and do at this state park. From relaxed activities like fishing and horseback riding to thrilling adventures like racing down the Toboggan Run, there’s something for every visitor to enjoy.

Boating

Lake James and Snow Lake are 2 amazing lakes open for motorized boating or padding. The park rents various boats, including pontoon boats, fishing boats, paddle boards, kayaks, and rowboats. Rentals are available at the Boat House by the Inn Beach during the summer season, with limited availability in the spring and fall months.

Bottom Line:

Boating or paddling on these lakes is an incredible way to fully appreciate the park’s natural beauty and splendor.

Fishing

The lakes at Pokagon State Park are a true haven for fishing enthusiasts. Anglers can enjoy a memorable fishing experience here all year round, whether fishing on the calm, serene waters in the summer or on the snow-covered lake in the winter. The lake is home to a wide variety of fish, including walleye, bluegill, catfish, crappie, northern pike, and bass.

Hiking

Hiking Pokagon State Park
Image Credit: Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Pokagon State Park has over 13 miles of hiking trails that wind through the park. These trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. The park has 9 different trails that range in distance and difficulty. Hiking the trails here is one of the best ways to view and appreciate the park’s landscapes, terrain, wildlife, and plants.

One of the most noteworthy hikes here leads to the highest peak in the park, Hell’s Point. This hike is a moderate 8-mile hike that provides a stunning view of the park. This popular hike is known as the Hell’s Point Challenge and it is outlined on a printable map provided by the park.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is offered in this park from early April through October. The Saddle Barn is in the park and offers guided trail rides, pony rides, and hayrides. The guided trail is 2 miles long and traverses the park’s varying terrains. Young visitors can participate in shorter guide-led pony rides. Hayrides are fun for the whole family and occur on Friday and Saturday nights.

Nature Center

The Nature Center at this state park offers a variety of educational exhibits, interactive displays, and live wildlife viewing opportunities that allow visitors to learn about the park’s diverse ecosystems. Park employees can answer questions and provide information about the park’s wildlife and plants.

Swimming

Lake James has 2 swimming beaches that are perfect for cooling down on a hot day. One of these beaches features a beach house, concession stand, and playground. These swimming areas are open from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day.

Toboggan Run

Toboggan Run
Image Credit: Benjamin Seese via Flickr (license)

The Toboggan Run is one of the park’s main attractions. This run is a quarter mile long and features a 90-foot drop, creating a thrilling and memorable experience for everyone trying it. The riders reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour as they race down the icy track. This attraction is open during the winter season, from November through February. It’s the perfect place to create an unforgettable memory at this state park.

Winter Sports

Winter sports enthusiasts are in for a treat at Pokagon State Park. The fun here doesn’t end just because the temperature drops and the snow falls. Winter activities include the Toboggan Run, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, sledding, and ice fishing.

The most popular winter activity is cross-country skiing. The ski trails at the park vary in length and difficulty, providing opportunities for every skill level. The park offers rentals, or you can bring your own gear.

Hot Tip:

The park’s website offers a detailed ski guide to help you explore the different trails and plan your winter adventures.

Best Times To Visit Pokagon State Park

Pokagon State Park is open year-round and offers incredible opportunities for visitors regardless of season. However, certain times are better to visit, especially for those wanting to participate in a particular event or activity.

Best Time To Visit Pokagon State Park in Winter

Pokagon State Park in Winter
Image Credit: Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Pokagon State Park is a popular destination for winter sports. January is the best month to visit this park to enjoy snow activities. This is the snowiest month throughout the year, which is perfect for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and simply appreciating the beauty of the park covered in blankets of snow.

Best Time To Visit Pokagon State Park To Avoid the Crowds

A solitary visit may be exactly what you seek when planning a trip to this state park. If a quiet experience is what you desire, plan to come in December. In December, tourists are least likely to visit, allowing you to explore the park at your own pace without the stress of long lines, crowds, and traffic.

Best Time To Visit Pokagon State Park for Ideal Weather

Weather can significantly impact a trip, especially if most of your time is spent outdoors. September is the best time to plan a trip to this park for ideal weather. The temperatures range from the low 50s to the mid-70s, and this is one of the less rainy months. There’s still an average of 7 days of rain during this month, so be sure to pack your rain gear in case you encounter a rainstorm during your visit.

Cheapest Time To Visit Pokagon State Park

Saving money and traveling don’t typically go hand in hand, but with some research and planning, it is possible to plan an affordable trip to the park. The cheapest time to visit this park is early November. This is when flight and accommodation rates are at their lowest throughout the year, potentially saving you hundreds in travel expenses.

Annual Events in Pokagon State Park

This park regularly hosts various events throughout the year, such as seasonal programs, guided hikes, and wildlife activities. Some events take place annually and attract many locals and visitors.

First Day Hike

Pokagon State Park hosts an annual First Day Hike event on New Year’s Day. This self-guided hike begins at the CCC Shelter and winds 2.5 miles through the park. After the hike, visitors can enjoy hot cocoa and socialize by the warm fire at the CCC Shelter. This event is sponsored by Friends of Pokagon.

Halloween Happenings

Each year, Pokagon State Park hosts Halloween Happenings on Halloween weekend. Some of the activities during this event include live owl programs, night hikes, a pumpkin carving contest, trick or treating, scavenger hunts, pumpkin trails, and a campsite decorating contest. Locals and tourists come to this event year after year for a spooktacular time.

Where To Stay in Pokagon State Park

When planning a trip, one of the first things to decide is where to stay. Fortunately, there are many accomodations available both in and around the park.

Inside the Park

Numerous lodging options are available on the park’s premises. From historic inns to rustic cabins and campsites, there’s something to appeal to every traveler.

Pokagon Cabins

The park features 8 recently renovated historic cabins and 4 cabin suites. Conveniently located 100 yards from the Potawatomi Inn and nestled between the Toboggan Run and Lake James, these cabins make a wonderful place to stay within the park’s boundaries.

These cabins have 4 rooms in each building with doors that connect rooms. Amenities include a kitchenette, private restroom, private entrance, and outdoor picnic tables. The cabins comfortably accommodate 4 people per room.

Pokagon Campground

The campground at Pokagon State Park offers a wide range of nearly 300 campsites for tent camping and RVs. These sites are available year-round. The sites have several amenities, including fire rings, picnic tables, drinking water, and modern bathhouses. For any last-minute supplies, the camp store is nearby. Additionally, the campground offers spaces for larger groups camping in their youth tent or group camping areas.

Potawatomi Inn

Potawatomi Inn
Image Credit: Indiana Department of Natural Resources

The Potawatomi Inn is a historic inn located inside the park. This facility features 126 guest rooms on the shore of Lake James. This is the ideal solution for visitors who want to stay in the park with all the conveniences of home.

The rooms here feature comfortable linens and furniture, private restrooms, and stunning views of the lake and park. The inn has other on-site amenities, including 2 restaurants, a fitness center, a game room, a fire pit, a sun deck, a craft room, and a swimming pool.

Towns Near Pokagon State Park

Thanks to the fantastic location of the park, there are several options for a home base in one of the surrounding towns. Whether you seek a small, quiet town or a bustling city, you can find exactly what you are looking for within a short drive from the park.

Angola, Indiana

Angola is the closest city to Pokagon State Park, as the park is located there. This charming town offers plenty of lodging, dining, and entertainment options. There are various chain hotels, campgrounds, and bed and breakfasts to choose from for a comfortable stay. As for dining, visitors can enjoy local mom-and-pop diners, steakhouses, and barbecue joints.

For recreation and entertainment, the town features a beautiful performing arts center, golf courses, and local shops. With all these amenities and such a great location, Angola is the perfect place to stay near the park.

Fremont, Indiana

Fremont is a charming town just 6 miles from the park. While it may be small, this town has a lot to offer in terms of accommodations, dining, and recreational activities. Various lodging options are available here, including traditional hotels and motels and more unique accommodations like family resorts, private lake homes, and campground resorts.

The dining scene offers a taste of home with many family-run diners, pizza parlors, and cafes. Wildlife preserves, wineries, and outlet shopping centers provide recreation and entertainment.

Bottom Line:

With its proximity to the park and endearing small-town atmosphere, Fremont is an excellent place to call home when vacationing at this state park.

Where To Eat in Pokagon State Park

There are 2 dining establishments located right inside the park’s boundaries.

Courtyard Cafe

Courtyard Cafe is located in the Potawatomi Inn and offers seasonal dining. It is open daily for lunch and dinner. Menu items include made-to-order sandwiches, house-made pizzas, and hand-dipped ice cream. This is the ideal place to dine if you want to grab something quickly without leaving the park.

Lakeview Restaurant

Lakeview Restaurant is also in the historic Potawatomi Inn. This restaurant serves freshly made home-cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals daily. The menu features omelets, pancakes, sandwiches, wraps, and a rotating selection of daily specials. For a hearty meal and a break from your park adventures, stop by Lakeview Restaurant.

Pokagon State Park Facts

Pokagon State Park
Image Credit: Anna Hesser via Flickr (license)

1. A New State Park Established

Pokagon State Park was created in 1927. It is one of the oldest parks in the Indiana state park system.

2. Original People of the Park

The original people of this area of Indiana were members of the Potawatomi tribe.

3. What’s in a Name?

This state park was originally named Lake James State Park, but it was changed to Pokagon State Park as a tribute to the area’s and state’s Native American heritage. Leopold and Simon Pokagon were 2 of the most significant leaders of the Potawatomi people, which is where the park got its name.

4. Built by the CCC

From 1934 to 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps lived and worked at Pokagon. These men built unique log and stone structures that can be seen around the park today.

5. Formed by Glaciers

The park was formed by melting glaciers from 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Once glaciers began to melt, they left behind a landscape that eventually became Pokagon State Park.

Final Thoughts

Pokagon State Park offers a plethora of activities, such as hiking trails, magnificent lakes, horseback riding, and educational centers. It’s no surprise that almost 640,000 visitors from far and wide visit this park each year. Book your trip today and experience the wonder and beauty of this Indiana park.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Pokagon State Park?

An entrance fee is collected each day of visitation at Pokagon State Park. The fees are $7 per vehicle for Indiana residents and $9 per vehicle for out-of-state visitors.

How much time should I spend at Pokagon State Park?

It is recommended that you stay at Pokagon State Park for a minimum of 2 days. Staying in the park at the campground or at the inn is the best way to get the full experience.

What are some attractions near Pokagon State Park that I should check out?

There are several attractions near this park that are worth checking out during your stay. Many visitors will visit Trine State Recreation Area, as the entry fee is free with your Pokagon State Park ticket. Satek Winery is another popular attraction.

Can I bring my dog to Pokagon State Park?

Dogs are welcome in many areas of the park, including the campgrounds and 9 hiking trails.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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