In 1831, the family of future president Abraham Lincoln used this area to find their way from Indiana to Illinois. Today’s visitors to Lincoln Trail State Park can see that same trail, and a whole lot more.
The Lincolns did not just choose this area because it was a straight shot from Point A to Point B. Lincoln Trail State Park has some of the most diverse wildlife, flora, and fauna in the region. When the snow begins to fall, the park shifts gears and becomes something of a winter wonderland.
Retracing the steps of a historical figure is usually a powerful experience. But making new paths and creating new memories may be even more powerful. Lincoln Trail State Park gives your family many opportunities to do just that. You can literally make a new path on one of the park’s hiking trails, or create new memories hunting, fishing, boating, or enjoying other outdoor activities.
We should add RV camping to this list as well. Lincoln Trail State Park has two large RV campgrounds that feature electric hookup sites and lots of campground amenities. The park’s restaurant even delivers. You can’t beat that.
Lincoln Trail State Park is just south of Interstate 70 and just west of Terre Haute. I-70 almost literally bisects the country from sea to shining sea, so this park is accessible from almost anywhere. It’s also a very well-maintained highway. The Federal Highway System says that key parts of I-70 were the final pieces of the original interstate highway system puzzle, so many parts of the road are very new.
Large vehicle parking is available near the visitors’ center as well as the lakeside boat docks. As an added bonus, pretty much all the Lincoln Trail State Park roads are wide and paved. That’s very good, because the area is very heavily wooded and visibility would be a problem if the roads weren’t in such good shape.
This 105-site RV campground is open all year long. It’s located in a very secluded area so you'll have plenty of privacy. Many of the sites are pull-through sites. Many have electrical hookups and all of them have picnic tables and outdoor grills. So, whether you like the comfort of your RV or the great outdoors, you are pretty much set. Campground amenities include a restroom and shower area (showers are closed between November and May), as well as an RV dump station.
Most of the 72 of the mostly pull-through sites have electrical hookups, picnic tables, and barbecue grills. As the name implies, this RV park is closer to the lake. It’s also close to the boat launch and fish cleaning station. Campground amenities in this pet-friendly RV park include a dump station, drinking water spigots, and a children's play area.
Most people come to Lincoln Trail State Park to spend time on the lake. The aforementioned boat docks are basically at the center of this narrow and winding lake. Canoes, paddle boats, kayaks, and other unpowered craft are available for rental at the park’s concession stand. Use one of the many boat launches to set out on the water. Powered craft are welcome as well, but their motors must be smaller than 10hp. Lincoln Trail State Park Lake is large, but there is not a whole lot of open water. The shoreline is never far away.
The two best shore fishing areas are usually around the boat docks and near the dam on the southern edge of the lake. Lake waters are generally clear, fertile, and shallow (the average depth is 16 feet). That combination is usually great for anglers. Additionally, park rangers monitor the fish population very meticulously. So, crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass are plentiful here. Check with park rangers about current size regulations. Sometimes, anglers can keep smaller fish to help thin the population. That’s especially true of largemouth bass. Sunfish and catfish often bite pretty well too. So don't forget to pack your fishing gear in your campervan.
Even if you only had a blanket on the ground, a meal next to a tranquil lake that has a tree-lined shore is quite an experience. Lincoln Trail State Park offers much more than that. The open picnic areas are not really open at all. They’re surrounded by shade trees. They also have picnic-friendly facilities, like barbecue grills, drinking water spigots, and restrooms. Lincoln Trail State Park also has four sheltered picnic areas. One of them even has electricity.
In the fall and spring, set out on one of the park’s hiking trails on foot. It’s amazing how loud your feet crunches sound in such a quiet place. For a short hike you'll love the half-mile Beach Tree Trail. Hikers walk over a series of staircases, footbridges, and smooth pathways. These vantage points offer excellent views of the adjacent American Beech Woods Nature Preserve. For more of a challenge, try the two-mile Sand Fork Nature Trail. It’s long but not particularly challenging. This trail winds through some deep hickory-oak woodlands. Trail hikers can clearly see landscape and foliage changes as they walk.
Even if you visit the park in your camper or travel trailer during the winter months you can still have some fun. When the snow starts falling and the mercury really drops, small and shallow Lincoln Trail State Park Lake almost always freezes over. January is a great time for ice skating and ice fishing. Those wide roads we mentioned above turn into very nice snowmobile trails. Every winter, rangers set aside six miles of roads for this purpose. Snowshoeing along hiking trails is popular as well.
850 of the park’s 1,100 acres are open to hunters. The alternating woodlands, ravines, and grasslands make excellent hunting territory. Raccoon and deer season are both in the fall. Hunters can use firearms to bag raccoons and archery equipment to harvest deer. Trapping was popular when the Lincolns walked over this ground, and it’s still a popular activity today. Check with park rangers for seasons.