A Guide To Potato Creek State Park
Visiting The Bend doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to our cities and communities.
Our area can also be an escape. If you’re looking for a serene getaway, it awaits about 20 minutes southwest of South Bend at Potato Creek State Park.
An Insider's Guide to the Park
Potato Creek is one of the most-visited parks in the Indiana system.
Lake Worster, quite the sight at 327 acres in size, is the park’s focal point. It’s a perfect place to take a dip on a hot summer day with its beach and boating options. Outdoor enthusiasts can kayak, hike, bike and more. Fishing lovers can drop a line in the water in hopes of snagging a bass or bluegill. The park is also a premier birding destination.
Let’s take a closer look at everything you can experience here.
Winter Activities at Potato Creek State Park
As the temperatures get colder, activity slows down at Potato Creek. But that only makes it more serene. Winter is a great time to explore. Trails remain open to hiking — Potato Creek is one of our favorite spots for a winter hike — and cross country skiing (snow conditions permitting). No equipment is available to rent. There is also a tubing/sledding hill and ice fishing when Worster Lake is frozen.
Family cabins are also available to rent year-round if you're looking for a rustic getaway.
Hike and Bike the Trails
Although heading onto the lake is a great way to see the park, there’s no better way to explore than on foot or bicycle via the miles of trails.
You can walk around Lake Worster through old fields, take a short walk near wetlands or head into deeper woods. Six hiking trails range from easy to rugged. They total 9.2 miles. Head over to Trail 4 for over two miles of hiking and be ready to spot a warbler or passerine flying around or resting on a nearby branch. You can get to Trail 2 from either Trail 1 or 4. It will take you to the highest point in the park.
RELATED CONTENT: Bike Trails in The Bend
Leisurely bike rides are at your disposal on the bicycle trail. Its 3.3 miles start at boat rental and end near the Tulip Poplar shelter, an ideal spot for a picnic lunch or an afternoon snack. The bicycle trail offers a full park experience: It winds through wooded hills, above a creek bed then by wetlands and through forests.
Those looking for more of a challenge can utilize the mountain bike trail, which stretches to 6.6 miles total.
Nothing brings on a true state park experience like staying the night. Potato Creek has cabins, a family campground area with 287 sites (including electric hookups) and an equestrian campground with another 70 sites.
Be aware that these sites are often booked out well in advance. The best way to check availability and make reservations is on the DNR’s booking website.
Fishing at Potato Creek
Worster Lake is very popular with local anglers. You can bring a boat (electric trolling motor only), launch from one of the two ramps and fish for a variety of species. Bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass (known as wipers), channel and bullhead catfish and perch are among the favorites.
Fall might be the best time to go fishing at Potato Creek as waters cool and the fall foliage really pops.
Birding at the Park
Potato Creek is probably The Bend’s best-known birding site. Its wooded areas, wetlands, grassland prairies and Lake Worster provide abundant habitat for a variety of birds, including bald eagle and osprey. You’ll find warblers in the spring and fall and waterfowl around the lake and wetlands.