Trail running can be intimidating but it doesn’t need to be scary if you know what to expect. I’ve ran the trails at Pokagon State Park multiples times now and have found it to have some of the best trails in Northeastern Indiana. Why? The trails are accessible year round. There are a variety of trails from easy to hard, with varying surface types. All trails are short and within close proximity to a road, or the Pottawatomi Inn. Trails are well groomed and wide enough to run with a friend. Best of all, the trails are marked well.
And if weren’t paying attention to the last couple of signs, then look at the “You Are Here” maps, or notes/maps on particular points of interest, which are scattered throughout the trail system.
Pokagon is a place you can go with your family for hiking, swimming, camping or horseback riding. Or you can run for fun or even train for a marathon or ultra. It’s good for short distance runners AND long distance folks. I’m particularly excited to get Aby and some of her Cross Country friends up there this summer!
I usually park at the Potawatomi Inn and start on one of the trails which begin at “The Inn”. If it’s dark, I run on the roads within the park until the sun comes up. Got a great pic last weekend of some of the holiday lights.
At this time of year, there is little traffic in the early mornings. It’s a good time to tour the campgrounds, roads and paved trails while there isn’t too much hoopla. Bathrooms are still open but lacking toilet tissue. There will be a few scattered campers and park workers moving about in their vehicles. And the Inn will always have guests who are coming and going. You will not be alone.
The two trails which are easiest to connect with are those which lead to/from the Pottawatomi Inn. Trails 1 & 3. Trail 1 is easy to find by going down by the beach and it picks up to the side of the playground. A nice easy trail that is in the woods with views of Lake James and some of the houses which surround the water.
Good trail for beginners or seasoned trails runners. A couple hills but nothing scary. If you have a young Cross Country runner, or a new 4 legged friend to train, this would be the perfect trail developing an excitement about trail running while still keep everyone close to people, park roads and The Inn. Well traveled trail. Bonus, if non-running family members want to go with you to the park, they can play on the beach and playground while you take a short trail run. Big win for everyone!! Trail 1 & 3 highlighted in yellow below.
Trail 3 starts in the parking lot of the Potawatomi Inn, in the Northeast corner. You can park your car and be on the trail in 30 seconds. In my opinion, Trail 3 is the heartbeat of the entire trail system at Pokagon. You can access every trail in the Park, plus the Beechwood Nature Preserve loop via #3. If you ever get lost, run towards 3 and you’ll eventually start seeing signs for The Inn
which is why I suggest you park your car there. The trail starts in the woods, runs across some wetlands with a few cute bridges with benches for sitting. Great trail, not too technical.
Then #3 leads wherever your heart desires, just check the map and go!! Since most of the trails are loops, if you have a long run to do, you can run most of the trails without backtracking or even thinking too much about what to do, or where to go. I see a sign for a trail, I just take it. It generally loops me back to the trail I was standing on when I saw the sign. Super easy trail system, I promise!!
Hardest Trail – #9. This trail takes you up, Up, UP and eventually overlooks Interstate 69 before going back down to reconnect with Trail #3.
Point of Interest – Hell’s Point, on Trail #3. I expected it to be harder to get to with a name like Hell’s Point but it wasn’t too difficult, just follow the signs and run the trail. Fun set of stairs and a nice view from the lookout!
Hidden gem – Beechwood Preserve Loop, which is not part of Pokagon but accessible from Trail 8. Lots of wildlife. Short loop which is good for walkers. Super secret parking lot off of 127 to access this area and make it a family friendly adventure (no strollers). Even has a half loop sign if you want a shorter route. One big hill if you do the full loop. Yeah, I walked that hill!
Easiest Trail – #7. Grassy loop with a nice view of a wetland. Lots of water fowl in this area. Benches everywhere to sit and rest or watch the wildlife.
Biggest attraction: Toboggan Slides. Open from the Friday after Thanksgiving thru February. Yes, I’ll be taking the kids. Looks super fun and slides pick up speed of 35-40 mph. Sounds terrifying and exhilarating! Image source.
Pokagon State Park is amazing, go check it out cuz I know you’ll love it as much as me! It offers over 1200 acres of fun from water activities to hiking and trail runs. Great fun for the entire family!
** I’ll See YOU On The Trail ** Amanda – TooTallFritz
Sounds like a great place to run. Any excuse to get outside and run is a good one.
Looks fun! Too bad you aren’t closer so I could drive (even a bit further) to run there with ya!
You are welcome anytime! Lots of great places to run here. Call it a runcation but one where you only have to pay for gas! Good deal, right? 🙂
I guess that is one big plus with moving back to Indiana! Too far for me to go there for a day-run, but camping in warmer weather might be a good way to run those trails. Hmmmm…I wonder if those wetlands you were by have spotted turtles? Let me know if you see any if you run there in early to mid spring.
Sure will. Lots of wet areas. They have a lot of bridges thought to keep everyone’s feet relatively dry. 🙂
This is a great post! I must live close to you. The toboggan at Pokagon is super awesome! Have you been running at Potato Creek State Park? It’s probably my favorite trail running spot in Northern Indiana.
Have been to Potato Creek yet! Hoping to go soon but it’s a solid 1.5 hours from me. I’m near Ft Wayne.
I grew up wandering these trails, but this weekend will be my first time on them as a runner. We would always hike up to Hell’s Point via Trails 2 and 4 but Trail 1 has become my favorite because I like the views overlooking Lake James. I moved away from the area after college and haven’t explored the “new” areas along I69 yet. I live in SW Indiana now and can’t wait to get up there. It’s like coming home!