Mountains in the Shenandoah National Park were located in our backyard in Virginia so moving to flat Indiana has been a major adjustment. Our normal weekend activities, besides running, has changed immensely and we are left missing our hikes. So on Easter we had to travel about 12 miles (45 mins) outside South Bend to a state park located in North Liberty, Indiana, USA to fill our hiking homesickness. This is our normal Easter celebration alone – my family does not get together for this Christian holiday apparently.
Potato Creek has been a state park since June 6, 1977 when the 3,840-acres (6-miles) was man-made by the persistent “bugging” of local resident Darcy Worster and other conversationalists. The main pamplet to the park stated Mr. Worster actually sent hand-crafted insects to state officials to agree to designate the area for a state park. The signs and written resources for the park did not state why this area was of specific interest but it is said that the area used to be the location where early settler’s would dig-up wild potatoes, hence, the name sake.
This is a protected park by the state so upon entering the park, an entry fee per car will need to be paid. Per car the cost is $5.00 for in-state residents and out-of-state is $7.00. If you walk, ride, crawl in the cost will be $2.00 per person. There is also an annual membership for in-state residents $40.00 which gives you unlimited free access to the parks with one-car load. If you intend on camping, horse riding, or engaging in other permissible activities fees and/or reservations may need to be made ahead of time with the Central Reservation System via telephone at 1-877-622-6746. All proceeds go to the continued conservation of turning the land back into the natural state as one would have seen it in the pre-settlement days of the early 1800’s which includes a very important wetlands system.
Once inside the park there are many options for activities of leisure or adventure. Campsites are available but we were not in this area so I can not really tell you the quality but it did appear the hiking trails did re-route those hikers towards the campsite. So I believe you can stay at the camp and enter directly onto the trails. We went hiking but in true Genki Kitty and Genki Husband fashion, we got lost and ended up on the biking trails. So we experienced both of these trails so I can only speak of these two options.
There are 10 hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate to rugged. Since this was our first time we adventured to the easy trail called Peppermint Loop Trail and then got lost on a few other trails within range. We do have a hiking Garmin GPS device but we forgot to take it along, oops. The trails wind through a forest area, alongside the wetlands, alongside fields and alongside the Worster Lake. Hiking is gorgeous, even when the trees do not have leaves. We went on Easter which was probably one of the busiest days of the season seeing as it was sunny, warmer than normal and a holiday vacation. Even with this in mind, we only passed a few hikers and one angry biker (since we got lost and ended up on the bike trail). Sorry to you biker if you are reading this…
Wondering how we got lost? We actually followed the trail markers that are minimalist at best. We came across this trail marker a few times while on the easy hiking trail. It has a symbol of a hiker and an arrow to go straight ahead. What would this mean in your opinion? To us we were thinking it meant to go straight since we were hiking. Nope! This actually means that bikers are to go straight. Confusing right? Or was it just us? This is when our nice Easter hike went south…
Above is a photo of another trail sign that was confusing (actually almost all of them were). Apparently there is no difference between a camp ground or hiker image for the trail markers. The camp site was marked clear and correct but again the hiker meant biking trail. When we saw this sign we were still on the hiking trail so this trail marker meant nothing to hikers. Soooo confusing!
We parked at the Nature Center which also has a nice outlook of Worster Lake and also a kids play gym. This seemed to be the perfect area for parents to take children to play in the sunshine and enjoy time with other kids. The Nature Center was open but we ran out of time after getting lost on our hike- oops. It just leaves more to adventure on our next trip (with our hiking GPS).
Not only are kids allowed but Furry babies are too! Thank you Potato Creek from Genki Pup. This is how she loves to hike on certain parts of trails that are a bit dirty or after a few miles. She does hike but sometimes she conserves energy to give me a little workout. She’s so concerned about her momma. For those of you that are new to the blog, we have had this dog backpack for at least three years and it is very useful and worth the money. We got ours from a specialty dog store in Cleveland, Ohio. It zips up for extra pup privacy but Genki Pup loves to stare at people while hiking. When out on hot days she can lay down with ease and take a little nap. (which is funny to hear her snore while us humans are huffing and puffin)
Our intentions were to take a nice little hike before lunch and then a longer one in the afternoon after our stomachs had settled. But considering our hike lasted an extra two hours, we just went ahead to end the trip at the beach on Worster Lake. There are human swimming beaches and then there are dog beaches. We went to the dog beach, not to enter the water since it was freezing but to have a nice picnic on the grass next to the sandy beach.
Another tradition for Genki Husband and me is to have a bento lunch full of ingredients that were of Jesus’ time. We had flat bread, chickpea salad, organic colored carrots, cucumbers, olives, dates, almonds and figs.
Genki Pup also got to enjoy her greenie from the Easter bunny while we ate our Easter Lunch. She also had a bowl of water on the side, not shown in photo. This is a great way to get her to not beg for cucumbers.
Final Opinion of Potato Creek State Park: We had a delightful time hiking on the easy trails in the park. That was until we got lost. I would not suggest hiking on these trails alone without someone that knows the trails. It is not very user friendly. We will take our Hiking GPS next time to see if the trails work out better. It is best not to follow the trail markers because it will make you lost – and to get angry glares by hikers. If we didn’t get lost, we would have had an amazing time. We will be going back, maybe with new bikes for the easy trails.
If you have been to Potato Creek, I would love to know your opinion in the comments section. If you haven’t, I would still love to hear from you!