Visiting The Bend doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to our cities.
Our area can also be an escape. Sure, you can mix in the outdoors at an array of parks in South Bend and Mishawaka. You can add another layer to this exploration by visiting our wonderful county parks. But if you’re looking for an even more serene getaway, it awaits about 20 minutes southwest of South Bend: Potato Creek State Park.
State Parks Stay Open During COVID-19
Indiana’s state parks remain open despite governor Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order, recognizing their importance to healthy outdoor recreation. Anyone visiting the park is encourage to practice social distancing and be mindful of regulations in place.
OPEN: Trails, comfort stations and exterior bathroom facilities, picnic areas, campgrounds (online reservations only, no walk-ins), boat ramps.
CLOSED: Playgrounds, property offices, entrance and campground gates, nature and education centers, shelter houses, group camps, cabins, boat rentals, camp stores.
MORE INFORMATION: Indiana State Park Guidelines
In its earliest days, the area around Potato Creek State park served as Native American hunting and fishing grounds. Settlers of European descent came during the 1830s. Over the ensuing century, the area’s natural habitats were stripped away in favor of farmland. That, however, wouldn’t last forever. Darcy Worster, a local enthusiast, pushed for the creation of a park for years.
Worster achieved success in the 1970s. A reservoir was created in 1977 and the lake was named in his honor. Potato Creek Recreation Area came to be the same year. It was named a state park in 1983.
Out on the Lake
The result of Worster’s effort is one of the five most visited state parks in the Indiana system.
Lake Worster, quite the sight at 327 acres of area, is the park’s focal point. It’s a perfect place to take a dip on a hot summer day with its beach and boating options. Visitors can glide along its water via kayak, canoe or paddle boat. Those looking to drop a line in the water in hopes of snagging a bass or bluegill.
Trails, Trails, Trails
Although heading onto the lake is a great way to see the park, there’s no better way to explore than on foot or bicycle. Miles and miles of trails are ready to be traversed.
You can walk around Lake Worster through old fields, take a short walk near wetlands or head into deeper woods. Six hiking trails range from easy to rugged. They total 9.2 miles. Head over to Trail 4 for over two miles of hiking and be ready to spot a warbler or passerine flying around or resting on a nearby branch. You can get to Trail 2 from either Trail 1 or 4. It will take you to the highest point in the park.
Leisurely bike rides are at your disposal on the bicycle trail. Its 3.3 miles start at boat rental and end near the Tulip Poplar shelter, an ideal spot for a picnic lunch or an afternoon snack. The bicycle trail offers a full park experience: It winds through wooded hills, above a creek bed then by wetlands and through forests.
Those looking for more of a challenge can utilize the mountain bike trail, which stretches to 6.6 miles total.
Stay and Play, Even During Winter
There is no need to stop the fun after sunset. Potato Creek offers cabin rentals throughout the year. They’re great spaces to enjoy with your family. But be sure to reserve early because they’re popular and get booked quickly. You can walk from the cabins to the mountain biking trail, nature center and more. During winter, they give you access to the tubing hill.
Speaking of winter, don’t shy away from the park because of a little snow. You can tube, cross-country ski and ice fish.
Any Escape Nearby
Yes, Potato Creek State Park is a secluded corner of The Bend. But that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to access. It’s so close to South Bend and Mishawaka, there’s no excuse to pass it by if you’re looking to explore the outdoors. This is a place where you can enjoy the simple things. Let us show you how.