If the road ever takes you to the beautiful state of Indiana, let it take you to the most gorgeous, most peaceful, most natural part of it – the magnificent Pike State Forest. Pack up your stuff, get in your RV, and visit this breathtaking forest in Pike County in Indiana, in the southwest part of the state, close to the city of Winslow. Here, you can find it all – a river, some hills, gorgeous flora, and a perfect spot to relax, unwind, and forget about the troubles of the modern world. Even though the forest has some facilities RV campers can use, it is still one of the prime examples of the incredible power of Mother Earth with its primitive campgrounds that do not disturb the environment. It shows just how much the Earth has changed once the humans took over, and it can take you back to the old days, even for just a little while.
Everyone can find something to do here. Whether you just want to camp, grill, and chill, or ride horses and hike – the Pike State Forest accommodates everyone who wants to spend a bit of time here. Bird watchers can photograph feathery creatures, hikers can take one of the trails and explore the forest, and all of them can spend some quality time on the Patoka River that runs through.
Pike State Forest is located on the Patoka River, in the Pike County in southwest Indiana. It is located six miles east of the town of Winslow. The road from Winslow is mainly flat and clear, however, once you start approaching the forest, it turns into a dirt road, quite narrow and unlit. Be careful when driving at night, and definitely pay attention when it rains for more extended periods of time. Dirt roads can get quite muddy and flooded, so driving under these conditions can be quite a challenge.
If you’re coming from the south, Augusta would be the closest town as a point of reference. The country road leading to the forest is also a dirt road, going straight through the woods. The road is beautiful, and the scenery is breathtaking, but it is also quite narrow, so pay extra attention and don’t let yourself relax too much.
The Family Campground has 11 sites that have a grill and a picnic table. All of them are available on the first-come, first served basis. Campers need to go through self-registration and pay a small fee to be able to stay here. The Pike State Forest campgrounds are great for people who do not like to plan their trips thoroughly and are fine with just showing up and pitching their tents. And what to do while you’re here? Well, maybe grill the fish you caught earlier, or even some game meat if you are a hunter, throw a picnic party for your family, or just chill.
The Horseman’s Campground has 25 sites and, as the name says, it is reserved for horse enthusiasts. However, the sites are also available on the first-come, first served basis, so no need to book anything in advance over the internet. But, since you are traveling with a horse, it does not hurt to check with the park authorities if a site is available, so do not be afraid to pick up the phone and call – it will save you some nerves, and your horse will surely appreciate it. Just as in the Family Campground, all the sites have a grill and a picnic table, so you can enjoy those lazy days with your lovely family, all in the company of a glorious four-legged friend – a horse.
All the visitors of the Pike State Forest who cannot go a weekend without good old fishing will be glad to hear that they can do it here as well! The Patoka River offers plenty of opportunities for anglers to show off their incredible skills and catch the freshest dinner they can have while camping. However, be aware that some fishing methods and certain species cannot be used or caught. The river authorities prohibit the use of limb, jug, and trot lines, as well as snares. Fishing during the night is not allowed either. You cannot catch turtles, frogs, crayfish, or minnows since they are protected by law. Of course, refrain from using gasoline-powered motorboats or airboats, and keep your speed at the minimum wake.
Hunters can also find several exciting activities while visiting Pike State Forest. If you are not against hunting, you can put your reflective vest on and go look for some animals to trap. Some of the most abundant species available for hunting include whitetail deer, quail, waterfowl, rabbits, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, as well as turkeys. However, you have to have a valid hunting license in order to hunt here. An alternative to hunting, for the vegetarians and those who do not support the killing of animals, is wildlife watching – a more pacifist way of “shooting” – with a camera! It is up to you to decide which version of shooting you will choose, but whichever one it is, make sure to put safety first and not put yourself in danger.
Lovers of nature photography will find plenty of things to capture during their campervan visit to Pike State Forest. Photographers can bring their cameras and walk around the forest, capturing incredible images of whimsical plants, wildlife, or scenery. They can go to the river and create a time-lapse of the sunrise, which is always a beautiful thing to have and post on social media when they go back home. Photography is a fantastic way of creating memories and immortalizing moments, so why not create a photo album of all the most incredible spots you visited, one of which will surely be Pike State Forest.
Hiking is one of the most common activities in most state parks and forests all around America. Such is the case with Pike State Forest as well, especially if you visit in your camper or trailer. The forest has several fantastic hiking trails you can take to relax and see all the beauties of the forest while you walk. One of the most popular ones is the trail that begins right after the forest entrance. You will recognize it by a small parking lot next to it, from where you can access the trail and walk to a lovely creek. This is where you will encounter another trail where you can spend some time bird watching and relaxing before you head uphill to break a sweat. The trails are unmarked, so the forest authorities recommend you put on hunter orange vest to be safe.
Horseback riding is also quite popular in the Pike State Forest, which has a designated trail only for horses. However, horseback riders often take the hiking trails as well. This is why the trails are well worn by hooves so your beloved horse won’t have too much trouble walking through the forest. One thing to note is that rain can make the trails hard to navigate, so whether you are horseback riding or hiking, make sure you have proper protection, or that you skip the trails altogether. The entire forest is pretty wild and unmarked, so make sure to put safety first and wear a reflective vest or hunter’s orange to avoid accidents with hunters.
Bird watchers can spend their time here looking for feathered friends to observe and photograph. If they take any of the hiking trails and see some common or uncommon species of birds that live here. Some of the migrant birds include wrens, thrushes, sparrows, warblers, and vireos, and the rarer species include the lovely worm-eating warblers, as well as Pine, Hooded, and Kentucky Warblers. Mississippi Kites and Red Crossbills can also be seen here sometimes, and the trails are full of Acadian Flycatchers. All in all, the forest is a perfect ground for some fantastic photos of birds, and quite a few entries in the bird checklist.