Resting in New Haven, Indiana is 2,680 acres of pristine natural beauty in the form of Summit Lake State Park. Many nature lovers find a second home of sorts in the park, where flora and fauna seem to be almost overflowing. Not only is it an important bird area that is home to many rare birds, but Zeigler Woods is also a nature preserve. RV visitors can enjoy everything from boating and fishing to hiking and picnicking. However, a favorite activity for many visitors is taking part in one of the interpretive nature programs offered during specific months. The park is great for day trips, but it also features 120 electric campsites, so there's no reason to cut your visit short. You can hook up your RV and stay for a day or two, or even seven. Most of the park is taken up by its main focal point, the giant Summit Lake, but there's certainly much more to explore and do within the park's boundaries. No matter how you spend your time at Summit Lake State Park, you're sure to get more than a few breathtaking views that you won't soon forget.
Summit Lake State Park isn't too far off the beaten trail, therefore it shouldn't be hard to find. It is located on N. Messick Road, but exactly how you get there will depend on what direction you're coming from. The roads within the park are somewhat sparse, but they take you where you need to go. The roads will take you to the campground and various parking lots, including the ones by the boat launch, beach, park office, and Harvey Shelter. However, there are no roads in the Zeigler Woods Nature Preserve or most other parts of the park.
The roads that are in place are fairly easy to maneuver, but there are a few tight turns that visitors should look out, especially during the winter when it may be icy. Since there aren't a ton of roads, a second car is not imperative to have a good trip, but many visitors still decide to bring one to make finding a parking spot easier. Getting in and out of the park for supply runs and food is also easier if you bring a second car, but only one vehicle is allowed per campsite. Depending on what time of year you visit, you may also choose to bring bikes or skis to get around the trails.
The campground at Summit Lake State Park is pretty nice as far as state parks go. Not only do all of the 120 campsites have 50 amp electric hookups, but many of them also have water hookups too, not to mention fantastic views of the lake. Several of the sites are directly on the lake's shore, with the rest of them being just a short stroll from the lake and boat launch. Restrooms and showers are also centrally located throughout the campground so you can keep comfortable and smelling fresh.
The sizes of the campsites vary greatly, from just 25 feet long to 100 feet, but most of the sites are between 25 feet and 50 feet long. If you're rig is bigger than 50 feet, make sure to reserve a site that is of proper length. A youth tent camping area is also available at the campground, but if you're camping in your RV, this probably won't have any appeal to you.
On the day you arrive if any sites are not reserved you can book them on a first-come, first-served basis. However there's no guarantee any sites will be available, so it's recommended to make reservations ahead of time if possible, especially if you're visiting during the peak months.
Don't forget to load up your RV with your fishing gear before heading to Summit Lake State Park, an area known for its excellent fishing opportunities. Seasonal boat rentals and boat launches are available within the park, so the whole lake is your ball field. Anglers at the park can expect to catch everything from walleye and crappie to bluegill and catfish. There's even a fish cleaning station for you to clean your catch of the day.
Various interpretive programs are offered seasonally at Summit Lake State Park, which RV visitors of all ages can attend. The goal of these programs is to educate visitors about the plants and animals around them, the impact they have on their surroundings, and various ongoing conservation efforts. The programs also delve into the history of the area a little bit, but the ones at this park are more focused on nature and its importance.
Swimming is allowed in certain areas of Summit Lake State Park, but not all parts. The designated beach area at the park is the perfect place to soak up some sun rays or go for a dip in the lake, or both. It doesn't cost anything to use the beach, but it does tend to be more crowded in the peak months when it is nice and warm out. As tempting as it may be to go to a less crowded part of the lake to swim, for your safety, only swim in the designated beach area.
A few trails are available for hiking within the park, with the longest one being two miles long. None of the trails have difficult terrain as the highest rating among them is moderate, but some are harder than others. If you're looking for a short and easy stroll, try out the Beach Trail, which is just under a mile and features fantastic views of the lake and takes you through several tree species. The other trails are slightly more difficult, but still provide scenic nature views that are hard to beat.
Summit Lake State Park is an important bird area. More than a dozen species call the park home and the prairies are essential to many waterfowl. In addition to the common birds that you're probably used to seeing, you may also get to see some rare migratory birds including osprey, sandhill cranes, American bitterns, and even the bald eagle. Make sure you bring your gear with you, whether it's just a bird watching book or a nice pair of binoculars.
During the winter, the trails in the park transform from the perfect hiking destination to the perfect skiing spot. Cross-country skiers would have a field day at the trails within Summit Lake State Park. They aren't groomed, so skiing should probably be left to more experienced skiers, but it gives you the chance to see the park in a totally new light. Be sure to bring your skis in the RV though, because rentals aren't available at the park.