Oubache State Park is a popular park of about 1100 acres, at the heart of which is the beautiful Kunkel Lake. The park’s most famous residents are its herd of bison, but Oubache is also home to a wide range of species including deer, foxes and many different birds.
The park lies approximately 30 miles away from Fort Wayne in Indiana. The area was first set aside as a state forest and game preserve during the 1930s, becoming a state recreation area in 1962. Oubache only became a state park in 1983.
The name Oubache is pronounced Wabash, and Wabash is actually the name of the river which runs through the park. The park and the river names share the same pronunciation, even though they are spelt differently due to the French and English influences on the original Indian name.
The Wabash River runs along the southwestern edge of the park, but the most important water feature in the park is the central Kunkel Lake. As well as being one of the most attractive features in the park, and one of the most popular places for walking, the lake is also popular for fishing and boating. You can bring your own boat and use the launching ramps, or hire a boat, canoes of a paddleboat at the park. It’s a good idea to rent a boat for the day rather than for an hour if you are going to be in the park all day. You can also get a license to fish in the lake or to go ice fishing during the winter. Swimming is not permitted in the lake, but there is an Olympic sized outdoor pool that is open during the summer months.
Oubache is very popular with the locals and you will find a lot of families taking their traditional weekly trip to the park if you are here on a sunny weekend. If you are here with your family, then you will find plenty of activities to occupy them, including a volleyball court, and basketball and tennis courts. There are also children’s playgrounds, picnic areas and picnic shelters with charcoal grills. The shelters and lodge buildings can be rented for special occasions. The park has a Nature Center and a naturalist is available during the summer to provide information about the park.
Two of the most popular attractions are the buffalo and the fire tower. The best views of the park can be obtained from the top of the 100 foot tall fire tower, including some beautiful views over the lake. The tower can also be the best place to spot the buffalo if they are feeling a bit shy that day.
Hiking is the most popular activity in the park, with cross country skiing also being possible when the conditions are right. There are five interconnected trails of between 1 and 6 miles, ranging from easy to moderate. You can’t cycle on the hiking trails, but there is a separate paved bike trail which connects with the Rivergreenway Trail leading to Bluffton. The paved trail runs for two and three quarter miles through the park, and it is very popular with runners as well as cyclists. The park contains plenty of varied scenery, ranging from pine and oak forest to marshland. When Oubache was a game preserve, it was used to produce game chicks in huge numbers and it is possible to find some of the old pens in the park, where these quail and pheasant chicks were once raised.
The best way to experience Oubache State Park is to camp in it. There are 124 electric sites as well as four sites set aside for schools and youth groups. The camp grounds have showers and toilets, and they can be reserved online or over the phone. You can also turn up without a reservation, but you risk being left without a campsite during the busiest times of year. Camp ground A has the bigger sites, but some of the sites at Oubache can be fairly gravely, which can make it tough to drive in the tent pegs.
The official website is a good place to find a map of the park, and it is also possible to make camping and shelter reservations at Oubache through this website. It is also a good idea to check the site before you visit since it is updated with any information about closures as well as events in the park. http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2975.htm
Contact details: Oubache State Park, 4930 E. St. Rd. 201, Bluffton, Indiana.
Reservations: 866 622 6746