Martin State Forest is an excellent place for outdoor activities in a heavily forested area that features 26 primitive campsites for RVs. Located four miles northeast of Shoals, Indiana, Martin State Forest was created in 1932 with the purchase of more than 1,200 acres. Today, the state forest has more than 7,000 acres of heavily forested area that includes an arboretum which has more than 30 species of various trees. Inside the state forest campers can view structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 that include picnic shelters and fire towers.
The area surrounding Martin State Forest was the ancestral lands of the Miami Indian Tribe. The tribe was involved in the Beaver Wars, which was a conflict with European fur traders in the area around the 1690s. The tribe was recruited by Tecumseh, a famous Indian leader in the early 1800s, and was involved in the famous Battle of Tippecanoe. The tribe was removed from the land in 1830 with the passing of the Indian Removal Act.
Today, Martin State Forest offers plenty of outdoor activities for RVers including hiking, biking, hunting, wildlife watching, and fishing in three ponds that were constructed in 1957. The campground features 26 primitive campsites in a heavily wooded area that do not have hookup services.
The weather at Martin State Forest brings summertime temperatures in the 80s with up to six inches of rain per month. Wintertime temperatures hover in the low 40s accompanied by five inches of snow per month.
RVs and trailers can access the southern portion of Martin State Forest at the intersection of U.S. Highway 50, also known as Indiana’s Historic Pathways North Spur, and County Road 93 which travels through the forest. Driving northeast along U.S. Highway 50 from Shoals involves several curves at high speeds and drivers should use pull-outs or the shoulder along the highway if you are traveling at lower speeds. The highway travels through rural areas and you should beware of heavy equipment used by farmers. To reach the campground you must follow County Road 93 until it intersects with County Road 227. The turn-around in the campground is sharp, and larger rigs will not be able to navigate the turn-around. When driving in the state forest please beware of pedestrians, bicyclists, and children playing near the campground. Please adhere to all posted speed limits within the state forest for safety.
The Martin State Forest Campground is situated along one straight road and contains 26 primitive back-in campsites. The campground is in a forested area that provides protection from the elements and some privacy. Each campsite is furnished with a fire ring, picnic table, and gravel parking pad which may require leveling. There are no amenities located within the state forest for RVs or camping trailers. RVs are limited to 30 feet in length. The nearest dump station is found in Huron, four miles northeast of the state forest. The campground has vault toilets and water spigots. Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Pets must be restrained at all times.
Bring your rod and reel in your camper to Martin State Forest and experience some great fishing. There are two lakes you fish within the state forest which are Martin and Harwood Lakes. You will find plenty of shoreline to dip your line and try catching several species of fish including channel catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. You can launch your boat by hand but you are restricted to electric trolling motors. Please check Indiana’s state fishing regulations for bag and size limits.
Hiking is an ideal thing to do in Martin State Forest with five trails that offer something for all types of hikers from beginners to experts. Besides the 13 miles of mixed-use trails for hikers and bikers, you can try one of five trails. The 1.25-mile Woodland Education Trail is perfect for families with plenty of interpretive signs about the environment. Another nice trail is the Arboretum, which winds through the forest and connects with the easy hiking Martin Lake Trail. Hikers are encouraged to wear orange during hunting season.
Make sure you strap your mountain bike on your RV because there are more than 13 miles of trails to explore while peddling through the forest. The main bike loop trail is five miles in length with three connecting loops. The bike trails follow the existing fire trails along ridgetops and hills that vary in grade from mild to extreme. Loop A is almost two miles in length and traverses a creek several times. While peddling through the forested area you should make sure you give pedestrians the right-of-way.
Hunters flock to Martin State Forest during hunting season for a variety of hunting options. There are several seasons for hunting that include archery, muzzleloader, and regular rifle season. The state forest is home to numerous species of animals which include white-tailed deer, rabbit, wild turkey, gray squirrel, and raccoon. Hunters have the best luck hunting for white-tailed deer from a tree stand after trekking into the forest for more than one mile. Please check Indiana’s state hunting regulations for licensing.
RVers and campers should always have a pair of binoculars in their rig to help view wildlife from a safe distance. While at Martin State Forest you can view a number of birds that migrate to the area all year round. Species include badger, coyote, bobcat, gray fox, and white-tailed deer. Birders will enjoy going to Pine Lake where there are hundreds of migrating birds. While at the lake you can watch species such as osprey, whooping crane, peregrine falcon, northern bobwhite, and great egrets.
One of the best times of the year to visit Martin State Park is during the fall months when the trees start to turn from green to gold to orange to red. There are 60 species of trees along the short Woodland Arboretum Trail which offers plenty of interpretive signs pointing out the different species of trees that include oak, maple, elm, Douglas fir, alder, walnut, whitewood, poplar, and cherry. Stop in at the state forest office next to the trail for more brochures about the fauna and flora of the Martin State Forest.