Photos taken by Steve Sass at the Indiana Audubon Society’s Fall Festival in 2011. The Indiana Young Birders Club designed T-shirts for Ken & Kim Kaufman and Brad Bumgardner.
Its landscape formed by receding glaciers some 12,000 years ago, Pokagon State Park features a rolling terrain covered with woodlands, several small lakes with swampy edges, marshlands, meadows, and mature pine plantations. While walking on many of the wooded trails, you will very readily notice piles of rocks and outcroppings seemingly coming out of nowhere. These rocks, known as glacial debris or glacial till, were pushed south by advancing glaciers many thousands of years ago. The kettle holes and natural lakes found in this area are also the result of the ice age, as most were formed by the melting of these huge masses of ice. Glaciation is also responsible for the interesting variations of plant species and topography found in the area.
Trails 3, 6, and 7 offer the best birding at Pokagon; start your hikes for these trails at the Potawatomi Inn parking lot. The park also has frontage on Lake James (see the Steuben County Lakes site guide). During waterfowl migration, be sure to check Lake James from the beach and from behind the Potawatomi Inn. To reach the productive County Road Marsh, take the road to the right as you enter the park just before you get to the gatehouse (the road to the park office) and go a short distance until you see cattails on both sides of the road.
Trail 8 is one mile long and leaves Trail 3 south of Hell’s Point. It crosses a county road to make a loop in the east portion of Bluebird Hills. It passes through good open rolling terrain with scattered tall prairie grasses and some oaks. Trail 8 hooks up to the ACRES Land Trust Beechwood Nature Preserve on the east.
Trails 9 is 1.7 miles long and leaves Trail 3 south of Hell’s Point, goes out to I69 and back to Trail 3. It traverses rolling wooded hills, yellow birch swamps and old-field habitats. A small flock of Wild Turkeys is occasionally encountered.
The Nature Center has feeders that attract Red-headed Woodpeckers year-round. During invasion years these Nature Center feeders, along with the feeders located at the Potawatomi Inn, often host winter finches. Baltimore Orioles and hummingbirds are common at feeders, especially upon arrival and in early summer.
The recreational facilities available at Pokagon State Park, including swimming, fishing, saddle horse rental, cross-country ski rental, and a winter toboggan slide, make this one of Indiana’s most visited state parks. Accordingly, both the Potawatomi Inn and the park campgrounds often fill well in advance. Despite this popularity, the park’s trails are rarely very crowded, and quiet birding can be experienced virtually year-round.
Typical Time to Bird Site: 1-5 Hours
Hawks and woodpeckers occur year-round at Pokagon, as do Barred and Great Horned Owls. Thrushes, vireos, warblers, and other woodland songbirds are regular either as migrants in the spring and fall or as nesting species in the summer. Migrant waterfowl are regular on Lake James.
Don Gorney has discovered Brown Creepers nesting at Pokagon in recent years. Trail 3 is the best location to find this species.
Veeries tend to be most abundant along Trail 6.
Hooded Warblers are best heard along Trails 3 and 6.
Cerulean Warblers nest near Trail 3.
Pine Warblers are another species only presumed to nest at the park. While they are present during the late spring and summer, nesting activity has yet to be documented. They are best found along the entrance road, from the gatehouse to the second crossing of Trail 3.
Bluebirds are found along Trail 7, County Road Marsh and near the Nature Center.
Pileated Woodpeckers are found in the woods extending from the Saddlebarn to Lake Lonidaw and along the road to Campground 1.
Carolina Wrens are frequent some years around Potawatomi Inn, the Saddlebarn, and the Nature Center.
Bald Eagles are becoming more common on the area lakes. There were several observations on Lake James in 2006, but more commonly on Clear Lake. Possible courting and nesting activity was taking place.
Soras, Virginia Rails, Marsh Wrens, and sometimes Common Moorhens nest at County Road Marsh.
Hooded Mergansers have nested regularly in the pond at Bluebird Hills.
Sandhill Cranes are occasionally seen along Trail 7, in the fen surrounding Lake Lonidaw, and in the cattails in County Road Marsh, south of the road, north and west of the Saddlebarn.
Northern Parula – occasional in the large spruces near the Potawatomi Inn and the property manager’s residence.
Nashville Warbler – singing on territory along Trail 7 in June 1996.
White-winged Crossbill – observed in the conifers at the beach parking lot.
GENERAL SITE INFORMATION
State of Indiana / Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Site Phone Number: 260-833-2012
7:00 am to 11:00 pm daily, year-round. You can enter earlier in the off season when the gate is not staffed or if you are coming for a scheduled park interpretive naturalist walk.
Nature Center Hours:
Summer season hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily
School season hours: 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm weekdays, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, weekends and holidays
School season winter hours: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm Wednesday to Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm weekends and holidays, closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
The usual Indiana State Park entrance fee is collected. Also accepted is the annual State Park pass good for all Indiana DNR properties. Use the state parks link below for further details.
Indoor facilities are available at the Potawatomi Inn and the Nature Center. Outhouses can be found at the campground and picnic areas.
Reservations at one of the 278 available campsites can be made on the web www.camp.IN.gov or by calling 1-866-6campIN (1-866-622-6746).
Park visitors can make reservations at the Potawatomi Inn at the website www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/inns/potawatomi/ or by calling 260-833-1077 or toll free at 1-877-768-2928. Lodging in nearby Angola is also available.
Insects: Prepare for mosquitos in the summer, especially near the wooded areas.
Terrain: Some trails can be muddy in the spring, and Trail 7 often has wet grass in the early morning.
June is the best time to visit for nesting songbirds, whereas mid to late May and August through early October are the best times for migrating songbirds. During invasion years, winter finches are most reliable December through February. Woodland birding is best in the early morning and late afternoon. Bird walks led by park naturalists are held almost every Sunday at 7:30 a.m. in the spring, summer and fall, and 8:00 a.m. during the winter. Meet at the Potawatomi Inn.
Goll, John. Indiana State Parks. Saginaw: Glovebox Guidebooks of America, 1995.
Gorney, Don. “Brown Creeper in Indiana.” Indiana Audubon Quarterly 78.1 (2000): 3-15.
Keller, Charles E., Shirley A. Keller, and Timothy C. Keller. Indiana Birds and Their Haunts: A Checklist and Finding Guide. Second Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.
Pettingill Jr., Olin Sewall. A Guide To Bird Finding East of the Mississippi. Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Spangler, Iva. “Pokagon State Park.” Indiana Audubon Yearbook 26 (1948): 54.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources – State Parks
Select your favorite park to get information on activities, camping, lodging and fees, as well as trail maps and other maps of the park.
Steuben County, Indiana
DeLorme Page 23, Grid A-9
41º 42′ 27.4″ N
85º 1′ 21.62″ W
From the North: take I-69 south to exit 154. After exiting, turn right (west) into the park.
From the East / West: From the east or west, take the Indiana Toll Road (I-80/90) to exit 144, the I-69/SR 120 exit. Go south on I-69 to exit 154. Turn right (west) into the park.
From the South: go north on I-69 to exit 154. After exiting, turn left (north) on State Road 127, then quickly left (west) at the sign for the park.
Authors: Jim Haw and Fred Wooley
Editors: Darel Heitkamp and Dick Patterson
No Records Found
Sorry, no records were found. Please adjust your search criteria and try again.
Google Map Not Loaded
Sorry, unable to load Google Maps API.
- About Us
- Bird Resources
- Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary
- Contact Us
Indiana Audubon Society's mission is to stimulate interest in birds and their protection; to serve the needs of youth, civic, church, schools and other groups by providing information concerning birds; and to educate the public concerning the necessity for conserving and preserving Indiana's natural heritage, its unique flora and fauna.