Northwest Indiana Birding Opportunities - Potato Creek State Park
Located in North Central Indiana, Potato Creek’s main feature is the lake, which hosts waterfowl in significant numbers, especially in the winter and spring.
In addition, several pocket wetlands in the park also host waterfowl, as well as herons, rails, and shorebirds. There is a variety of forest habitats as well – including restored grassland/savannah, old fields, riparian woodland, and mature forest. Warblers are plentiful in the spring and fall and also a good variety nest within the park (Blue-winged, Chestnut-sided, Cerulean, and Hooded being the most notable). In addition, a variety of raptors are common within the park and have been observed nesting within the property, most notably Osprey and Bald Eagles.
The park is divided into 2 sections that are connected in the south (near the main entrance). The east end of the lake has some of the best birding along Trail 4. Birding the road to the cemetery lot is typically good, especially near the bridge over Potato Creek. Best done during non-peak hours and stay aware of cars and do not pull into the grass or stray too far from the car. Trail 4 is arguably the best trail in the park for birding. There are several connecting trails (labelled CT on map) that allow you to customize how long of a walk is desired. This takes approximately 2-3 hours to bird.
To the west of the main entrance, are several lake viewpoints (west boat launch and west lot most notably) as well as views of some of the southwestern wetlands that host many species of heron and waterfowl. The Friends Trail is a good place to park for views of the wetlands. Trail 1 near the Nature Center is another great spot to bird. Mature forests yield a good variety of warblers, vireos, and thrushes. It also leads you to Trail 2, which often has less people during busy periods. Allow 2 hours to bird Trail 1 (and an additional 2 for Trail 2).
The Nature Center itself has a bird window, great for winter feeder watching or to take a quick break any time of year. Finally, Trail 3 on the south side of the park near the entrance is a quick 30 minute birding trail which can be particularly good for Cerulean Warblers, among other songbirds. Most of the trails are flat and dry, but some can be wet and muddy in the spring. The Friends Trail especially can be flooded, so be sure to bring good footwear.
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|NORTH LIBERTY WEATHER|
25601 State Road 4
North Liberty IN 46554.
From US 31, head west on State Road 4 to park entrance.
Hours: Regular park hours are 7am-11pm.
Ownership: Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks
Admission: Indiana State Park entrance fees apply. $7 in-state vehicles, $9 out of state vehicles. No gate fees in certain off-season weekdays
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations. Of special note, the mountain bike trail should be hiked in the opposite direction of the arrows indicated on the state park map.
Parking: Located throughout the park. The Nature Center Lot, West Lot, and Cemetery Lots are larger and allow easy access to most trails. The numerous picnic areas also have good.
Nearby Amenities: Modern restrooms throughout park, especially near any picnic area and in the nature center. Nature Center has exhibits. North Liberty to the west and Lakeville to the east on State Rd. 4 have several diners and gas stations. South Bend, to the Northeast on US 31, has numerous restaurants and hotels. Camping and cabins are available within the park itself.
Accessibility: The bike trail (but NOT the mountain bike trail) is paved and ADA accessible. All piers except at Whispering Winds are accessible.
Phone Number: (574) 656-8186
Written by: Lindsay Grossmann
Photo by: Lance Mead