Salamonie Lake, located in north-central Indiana on a 2,665 acre property offers a wide variety of outdoor activities including camping, boating, and hiking.
We love our Indiana State Parks! In fact, in 2020 we got our state park pass and made a goal to try to visit a new one every weekend through the summer. We went to 11 different state parks and two lakes ( also preserved by the DNR- Department of Natural Resources) a grand total of 17 times! We loved it so much that getting another annual pass was not even a question the following year!
Today we’re sharing about a hidden gem in Indiana well-loved by many boaters and kayakers, Salamonie Lake! It is not considered a state park, but it is maintained by the DNR that also maintains the state parks.
And many times we’ve wondered why it’s not one! It has a great campground, nice trails, and more!
If you are looking to check out some great Indiana state parks, we suggest checking out our posts on Brown County State Park (great for its scenic views and hiking trails) and Indiana Dunes State Park (great for water activities and a unique Indiana experience).
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Why is Salamonie Lake One of Our Favorites?
Salamonie Lake is about 1.5 hours from our house. We have been camping and hiking there, taken day trips to the beach there, and even rented a pontoon boat there.
We love that Salamonie Lake is so big! Unlike Ouabache State Park (also in northeastern Indiana) with a small fishing lake, Salamonie Lake is the perfect place to rent a pontoon boat and spend the day on the water… swimming, soaking up the sun, watching the bald eagles, and more!
It’s one of our favorites in Indiana, and we know you’ll love it too!
Boating at Salamonie Lake
Without a doubt, one of the best parts about Salamonie Lake is the lake itself! So many lakes in Indiana these days are packed with houses! This lake is the exact opposite! In fact, I’m not sure there’s even one house on the entire lake! It is managed by the Department of Natural Resources.
That means boating on this lake is a dream! There is wildlife all around you!
When we rented a pontoon boat for a day out on the water this summer we found two bald eagle nests where the baby eaglets were just hours away from taking flight!
It was amazing!
Salamonie Lake Marina
The Marina and Boat Rentals at Salamonie Lake
Pirates Cove Marina at Salamonie Lake is open for dock rentals and boat rentals. You’ll see privately owned boats ranging from houseboats to jet skis and everything in between there.
Boat rental options include pontoon boats, fishing boats, and party boats. Paddle boats are also available for anyone looking to get some exercise!
Unfortunately, no pets are allowed on the rental boats. We always camp with our two dogs, so we don’t rent a boat when we’ll be there camping there. (We made a day trip to rent a pontoon boat instead). But we also often are tent camping. It may be a different story if our dogs could stay in a camper and we could check back on them regularly.
Note: Pirates Cove Marina is privately owned. To make reservations, you’ll need to call them directly instead of reaching out to Salamonie Lake.
Camping at Salamonie Lake
Overview of the Campground
If you’re looking for a great place to camp and love the water, this place is for you!
The campground is pretty large and close to the marina. There are two loops of the campground that are on the water with spectacular views!
There, I believe campers can put kayaks in the water from their camping spot (probably should check with the campground, but I’ve seen campers doing it).
And there is even a short walking trail that leads campers straight to the marina. No matter which camping spot you’re at, the water is a short distance away!
More on the Camping Loops by the Water
If you want a spot on the water, though, be prepared to book very far in advance! They go fast! You might also check out our article on how to snag the best camping spot!
Also, it’s probably worth noting that the loop containing sites 220-246 of the campground is very, very sunny! Campers get to enjoy the water but should prepared for the heat. We once saw a tent with an air conditioner in a window on that loop! And I completely understood why! It was unbearably hot with very few trees and lots of sun!
Before camping, campers should also know that the camp store is at the marina. We didn’t know this the first time we camped there and took a while to figure out where we could buy ice. There is a trail from the campground to the marina that may make your walk a little faster, if you chose to walk.
And the store at the marina is like a small convenience store. It has lots of helpful things in it!
Trails at Salamonie Lake
Salamonie Lake, in my opinion, does not have the best trails. It has very few to choose from, most are very easy, and most take you into the woods with no views… which is so surprising considering the park has so much water around it!
The tree trail (considered moderate in difficulty) was one of our favorites. It begins and ends by the marina with a short view of the water. Otherwise, we were pretty disappointed.
Most of the trails are around 1 mile long, so they are extremely short.
The lake property, however, is right next to the Lost Bridge East State Recreation Area, also run by the Department of Natural Resources. There is one trail called the Bloodroot trail that’s open to hikers and bikers and starts by the nature center and goes into Lost Bridge East SRA. That trail is 13 miles long and well-liked by many hikers.
Salamonie Lake Beach
This Indiana lake also boasts a nice beach available to the public. The sand is not as soft as it is at Indiana Dunes State Park (and the beach is not nearly as big!), but it’s still a great option for a day in the sun!
We have really enjoyed taking days of rest and enjoying this beach. It is well taken care of and can be very relaxing, especially if you’re not there during peak times.
My biggest suggestion is to plan ahead. There is no bathhouse, so you want to be wearing swimsuits and swim trunks upon arrival. There are, however, port-o-potties. But we all know how lovely those are!!
Anything to Note for Those (Like Me!) Who are Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free?
Although not terribly close, Payne’s in Gas City, IN (about 30 miles south of Salamonie Lake) is a cute restaurant with several gluten-free and vegetarian options. I know I have worked with the staff in the past to get a meal that was also dairy-free.
Worth noting and a bit disappointing for someone boating but not camping with a strict diet like mine: There are no grills available at Salamonie Lake unless you’re camping.
When renting a boat, we were hoping to park the boat at the marina for an hour or so while we cooked some food at a picnic area. We were told that would only be an option if we wanted to park at the marina, drive out of the park and around to another section of the reservoir, and then use the grill there.
We decided not to waste the time away from the boat and opted to bring pre-made lunches instead. I made buffalo chicken lettuce wraps and kept them in a cooler.
Any Suggestions for Bringing Kids to Salamonie Lake?
Bring bikes! Salamonie Lake is pretty flat everywhere, including the campground. So those newer to riding may enjoy the flat streets. Also, there are biking trails they may enjoy as well!
· Bikes- As mentioned directly above, bikes may be a great option at this property, especially if camping!
·Water equipment, such as floaties, water toys, swimsuits, kayaks, and more!
Looking for healthy, paleo camping recipes? Check out our post here with several paleo camping meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
And if you’re planning to bring your dog, make sure to check out our post on road trips with dogs!
Salamonie Lake in Indiana
Salamonie Lake in north-central Indiana is a beautiful, protected lake. Those looking for a great place to spend a weekend camping, soaking in the sun at the beach, renting a boat, or relaxing at the beach should check out Salmonie Lake.