Photo of a Chipping Sparrow taken by Mark Welter.
Pike State Forest consists of 2,939 acres of mainly deciduous mature woodlands. This state forest is a popular horseback riding area, for which there is a separate campground. Mississippi Kites nest at Pike State Forest and probably do so near the Horseman’s Campground , since young birds are often observed perched in the trees around the campsites. The adults are easily seen here, too, as they come to feed their fledged young. If you wish to avoid the “horse crowds” you should plan to bird here during the week, as the weekends are usually busy near the horseback riding areas.
There are several horse/hiking trails throughout the property. One of the most productive trails for passerines is the first trail encountered after entering the park. This trail has a small parking area next to it on the left side of the road. Access the trail from the parking area and follow it over a small creek to the intersection of another trail. Here, in early spring, you can usually hear the songs of Worm-eating and Kentucky Warblers. Acadian Flycatchers have also nested along here. Turning left at the intersection puts you on a trail that soon goes practically straight uphill. In the early spring, the enticing songs of Hooded Warblers beckon the fatigued birder up the steep hill to their nesting areas. Turning right at the intersection leads down a riverine valley and crosses a larger creek. Going straight through the intersection on the main trail allows you to follow the larger creek through the woodlands. The trails, which are well worn by horse traffic, aren’t yet marked by man-made signs. If hiking after rain showers, boots or waterproof shoes are recommended, as the trails become muddy when the creeks swell from the runoff.
On the southeast side of the park, past the ranger station to where the main road dead-ends, is a tall lookout tower . There are several picnic tables and another pit bathroom at this location. Nesting warblers can be found in the undergrowth in this area.
There is only one paved road into and out of the park. All the trails seem to wind around the hills, cross one another, and eventually come back to the paved road. You may note that part of the allure of Pike State Forest is its rather primitive look and feel.
Typical Time to Bird Site: You should be able to cover some of the trails and check the campground area in 3 hours fairly easily.
This site is particularly good for migrant and nesting thrushes, wrens, vireos, warblers, and sparrows.
Pike State Forest is a reliable location to find nesting Hooded, Pine, Kentucky, and Worm-eating Warblers . These birds are most readily found early May through early June, although Pine Warblers may arrive a bit earlier than the others. A good area to try for these birds is along the first trail encountered upon entering the park, which is accessed on the left side of the road next to its own parking area (see Site Description). Mississippi Kites have nested at this site since at least 1992. They are best found at the Horseman’s Campground or along the main road by the first creek from mid-May to late August or early September.They continue to be present through the summer of 2007.
GENERAL SITE INFORMATION
State of Indiana / Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Site Phone Number: 812-367-1524
Pit bathrooms are available at the campgrounds and at the lookout tower.
There are eleven campsites available in the family camping area and twenty-five campsites available in the Horseman’s Campground. Each of these sites comes equipped with a grill and picnic table. Hotel/motel accommodations are available in nearby Petersburg and Jasper.
Many areas are hilly. Some horse/hiking trails have steep terrain and can be quite muddy in the spring. Some of the trails can be alive with mosquitoes and ticks so be prepared with repellent and check for ticks after leaving trails.
Mid-April through mid-May is the best time for migrating passerines, while early May through early June is the best time to look for the nesting warblers. The Mississippi Kites are most reliable from mid-May through late August or early September.
Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
Authors: Gary & Lisa Bowman
Editors: Darel Heitkamp and Dick Patterson
Pike County, Indiana
DeLorme Page 56, Grid G-2 (Labeled “Ferdinand SF–Pike Unit”)
38º 21′ 19.22 N
87º 09′ 36.12″ W
From the North: From Petersburg, IN go south on SR 61 through Winslow. Continue another 2 miles to SR 364, then go left (east) on SR 364 for 3.2 miles to the site entrance.
From the East: From Huntingburg, IN go west about 14 miles on SR 64 to SR 61. Go right (north) on SR 61, through the tiny town of Arthur, to SR 364. Go right (east) on SR 364 for 3.2 miles and you have entered the site.
From the South From Evansville take I-164 north to I-64. Exit east onto I-64 (exit #29) and continue for 10 miles to SR 61 at Lynnville, IN. Go north on SR 61 for about 12 miles to SR 364, then turn right (east) on SR 364 for 3.2 miles to the park entrance.
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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.