In 1925, the residents of Steuben County purchased 580 acres along with shores of Lake James and Snow Lake as a Christmas gift to the state of Indiana. Another 127 acres were added by the state to total 707 acres. Currently, Pokagon State Park has 1,260 acres of woods and shoreline.
Entering Pokagon State Park on State Road 727, you will notice a small lake on the left side of the road. This is Lake Lonidaw, a “kettle lake” formed as the Wisconsin Glacier retreated. Lake Lonidaw has a creek that leads into the lower basin of Lake James. This lake is named in honor of the wife of the Potawatomi Indian Chief Simon Pokagon.
At the main entrance gate, you will see two gate houses. The gatehouse on the right is the original gatehouse constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1935. The gatehouse on the left was built in 1989.
As you follow the park road, the next building on the right is the saddle barn. This was constructed by the CCC in 1937. This barn is the starting point of the horse trail rides through the park. As you continue through the park, you pass under the County Road Bridge. This was constructed by the CCC and completed in 1936.
Taking the second right after the bridge, you will head to the Pokagon campgrounds. This area consists of five campgrounds and 278 individual sites, a group camp and a youth tent area. The entrance to this area is marked by the campground gatehouse and a camper’s store. Take the first right after the gatehouse to enter campground 3. This is the largest of the campgrounds and has 97 individual sites.
When leaving campground 3, you will notice the entrance to campground 4, an electric campground, and campground 2, a non-electric campground. Turning left leads to the entrance to the camping area. At the camper’s store, turn right at the second entrance and follow the lane past the store. On the left, you will see the Black Cherry Shelter and picnic area. Turn left at the road and you will notice the CCC Shelter on the right hand side. This shelter was built by the CCC in 1935-36 and is on the hillside above the Pokagon main beach and bathhouse.
Passing back under the County Road Bridge, follow the road to the second right turn. This will lead to the nature center, which was built in 1980 and remodeled in 1989. This is the central location for interpretive programming at the park.
Returning to the main road, on the right side you will see the toboggan slide tower. This is a ¼ mile refrigerated track. The first toboggan slide was built by the CCC in 1935. There have been several changes to the slide. It was refrigerated in 1971 and completely remodeled, with the warming center added in 1986.
Following the road around the loop and back to the main gate, turn right at the yield sign, continuing back past the toboggan and saddle barn. Turn on the third entrance on the right, into the Potawatomi Inn. The Inn was built in 1927. There have been several additions to the Inn, the most recent being the addition of the conference center and additional rooms in 1995. The Potawatomi Inn has 137 rooms, including the cabins. Also available are conference facilities, a restaurant, café and gift shop plus many other amenities for Inn guests.