June 14, 2016
450 Lane 100 Lake James, Angola, IN 46703
Hikers: Julie, Casie and Diego
Pokagon State Park is our closest state park which makes it one of our most frequently visited. On this particular hike, we made a loop out of Trail 5, Trail 2 and Trail 4. We parked at the CCC Shelter where you can rent skis in the winter months. The CCC Shelter is one of many structures in Pokagon State Park that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1934 – 1942. The stones of the two fireplaces were all hewn by hand by the CCC workers. The shelter was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
We started on a short section of Trail 4 to connect up with Trail 5. We head north on Trail 5, walking along the east shoreline of the Lake James Upper Basin. We followed Trail 5 to where it connected with Trail 2.
We continued north on Trail 2, making a loop up along the south shore of Snow Lake.
This is not a trail that we hike often and I was surprised to find a memorial bench along the trail. Riley Zimmer was an Angola High senior who was killed, along with 3 friends, while returning from a spring break trip to Alabama. At the time, I was a paramedic with Steuben County EMS and I remember all to well the devastation felt by the community. I staffed an ambulance during the memorial service at the high school. It was one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever experienced. The bench is in such a peaceful spot along the trail. I hope that the families of the young men who died have found some peace in the years that have passed. I could not help but think that my daughter, the one enjoying the trail with me this day , was only a year younger than the young man whose name was engraved on the memorial.
After making the northern loop on trail 2, we headed back south towards the Spring Shelter.
The spring shelter is another CCC structure, this one built in 1938 by Company 556.
A spring was discovered during construction and piping was added to take advantage of the clear, cool water of the artesian well. This water is still enjoyed by park-goers today. This is my favorite place in all of Pokagon and where we often stop for a snack and to refill our water bottles.
After stopping for a break at the spring shelter, we continued south on trail 2 to until it looped around and intersected with trail 4. The trail here was open woods with towering trees. We’ve been coming to Pokagon for many years and we passed a tree that I remember my kids playing in when they were little.
We followed trail 4 as it passed through the campground. For the most part, the trails are very well marked but we did get a little confused in the campground. We followed the bike trail a short bit until we were able to get back on trail 4 and continue back to our starting point.
Altogether we hiked somewhere between 4 and 5 miles. This is a great hike to check out some of the historical buildings in this beautiful northeast Indiana park!