Henry County is home to one of Indiana’s twenty-four state parks, Summit Lake State Park. This 2,680-acre park is known for camping and lake activities. Visitors can savor the outdoors through hiking, fishing, boating, swimming, and bird watching.
Fishing & Water Recreation
Fishing is popular on the 800-acre Summit Lake and allowed inside the park (except in the beach area). A state license to fish is required in Indiana. The lake has various fish, including bass, crappie, yellow perch, channel catfish, walleye, and sunfish.
Summit Lake boasts three boat launches, and kayak launches are also available at the north and south launches. The park rents row boats, kayaks, tandem kayaks, and canoes by the hour or day. The speed limit on the lake is idle speed only.
Summit Lake has two 3.25-mile self-guided scenic kayak trails, one starting at the north loop kayak launch and the other at the south loop kayak launch.
Summit Lake State Park’s 120 well-maintained campsites can accommodate tents and RVs. All sites have 50/30/20 amp electric, water hookups, and restrooms with showers and electricity available to campers. The sites do not have sewer, however, there is a dump station available as you leave the campground.
Sites 1-74 are open year-round, but please note some amenities are unavailable from November to April. Sites 75-120, modern restrooms, and water hookups are closed during these months, but the electricity remains on and the campsites are offered at a reduced rate. They do offer water fill stations throughout the park all year. The dump station is also closed during the winter months. It is best to contact the park in advance to check on amenities if you are planning to camp during the off-season.
Camping tip: Summit Lake’s campsites book up far in advance. Be sure to plan ahead when camping during summer weekends and holidays. Reservations can be made 6 months in advance on Camp.IN.gov
Swimming & Beach Activities
The beach is open daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, from sunup to sundown. It is free of charge to visitors. A rope and buoys separate the lake’s swimming area to keep kayakers and boats away.
Picnic tables surround the beach, and trees offer shaded areas. There is a volleyball pit and a concession stand; the concession stand sells snack foods and drinks (pizza, pretzels, candy, ice cream, soda, etc.). Visitors can bring food and drink; please remember that glass bottles, alcohol, and smoking aren’t allowed at the beach. Metal detectors are only allowed in the beach sand area and only from the day after Labor Day until the reopening of the beach on Memorial Day weekend. A permit must be obtained from the Park Office.
Beach tip: The beach parking lot is a short walk from the beach unless you drop off or park in handicapped parking. Remember this when packing and unloading your beach supplies for the day. A portable wagon or cooler with wheels can help with transportation.
There are six hiking trails at Summit Lake:
● Trail 1: Prairie Trail is a moderate 2-mile prairie trail with views of the lake.
● Trail 2: Campground Trail is a moderate 1.25-mile wooded trail with lake views.
● Trail 3: Beach Trail is an easy, ADA-accessible 0.9-mile wooded trail with lake views. This is also the Eagles Tales Trail. Stories about Summit Lakes critters are located on 5 storyboards throughout this trail.
● Trail 4: Self-Guided Nature Trail is a moderate 0.75-mile prairie trail through a wetland and meadow with lake views.
● Trail 5: Mesic Upland Forest Trail is a moderate 1.25-mile wooded and prairie trail.
● Trail 6: Sunset Trail is an easy 0.5-mile trail through a shrub swamp with lake views.
Bird watchers will be especially delighted to find over 100 species of birds at Summit Lake State Park. Some unusual bird species observed include the marsh wren, least bittern, American bittern, king rail, osprey, bald eagle, black tern, and great egret.
A seasonal naturalist is available from May to Labor Day at the park. Nature programs, activities, and cultural arts are available throughout the summer. Follow the park’s Facebook Page for events and interpretive program schedules. https://www.facebook.com/SummitLake
Bird watching tip: This area has been popular for bald eagle watching and wildlife photography. Check out the Nature Ponds on the North side of the lake for some extraordinary eagle photos during nesting season. Please be kind and do not disturb the nest or enter these areas as they are designated for nature only.
Planning Your Visit
Summit Lake State Park is an excellent place for visitors of all ages to enjoy the outdoors. Here are some additional tips for your visit:
● The park is open daily from 7 am – 11 pm
● Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as it can get hot during the summer.
● Be sure to pack insect repellent, as mosquitoes are in the area.
● Two large open shelters are available to rent for family picnics and other events.
● There is a $7 entrance fee for Summit Lake State Park. An annual State Park Pass is highly recommended as an affordable way to visit all the Indiana State Parks all year! Learn more about Summit Lake State Park here.
-Article by Jamie Ward, Travel Writer, Cornfields & High Heels