Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Visitors come to Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge and Management Area to watch and photograph wildlife, hunt, fish, hike, canoe, learn through interpretive programs and seek simple solitude from everyday life.

More than 380 species of wildlife can be found on these properties, including nesting bald eagles and federally endangered species like the Indiana bat. At least 20 plant species and 63 animal species considered threatened, endangered or of special concern by the State of Indiana live within the Patoka River valley. Wood ducks, whooping cranes, interior least terns and cerulean warblers are some of the many bird species that visit this refuge.

Driving Directions

Straddling Pike and Gibson Counties in Southwestern Indiana, the refuge stretches 20 miles in an east-west direction along the lower third of the Patoka River. It is located 30 miles north of Evansville, IN by way of Interstate 69, and is adjacent to the small towns of Oakland City, IN along State Road 64 and Winslow, IN on State Road 61. The refuge headquarters is located at 510 ½ West Morton St. in Oakland City on the south side of State Road 64.

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

Restrooms

There is a comfort station located in the Boyd’s Trail parking lot near Snakey Point Marsh.

Points of Interest

Be sure to stop by the headquarters in Oakland City, Indiana to pick up a refuge map, trail maps, auto tour guide or information about hunting and fishing regulations.

What To Do

If you have 15 minutes

  • Visit Snakey Point Marsh and hike the Boyd’s Tree Trail to the fishing pier (1/4 mile). Be sure to pick up a brochure at the trailhead to learn more about the trees and ecosystem at the Boyd’s Trail.
  • Go to the observation deck at Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area which offers a tremendous opportunity for wildlife watching
  • Check out the historic Wabash and Erie Canal operational in the mid-1800s, parts of which can still be seen from the roads on the refuge

If you have one hour

  • Try fishing in the South Fork or at one of the many lakes at the Columbia Mine Preserve
  • Hike part of the refuge’s 10 mile trail network. Some recommendations: Overlook Trail (approximately 1 mile) to get a fantastic view of Snakey Point Marsh or Massey Trail (approximately 3/4 mile) to the peninsula on Massey Lake for some solitude
  • Visit the Oatsville Bottoms, Dillin Bottoms or Gray Woods Swamp - there is no telling what you may see there!

If you have half a day or more

  • Paddle the Patoka River from the boat launches at Pikeville to Survant. This is one of the most wild, quiet and natural areas in all of Indiana.
  • Drive the auto tour route to learn more about the wildlife, history and unique areas found on the refuge.
  • The refuge manages a vast diversity of habitats and is open to hunting a variety of game species. Obtain the refuge regulations and map from the headquarters office or online.

Know Before You Go

Bring plenty of drinking water, snacks, insect repellant, sunscreen and other necessities to ensure you have an enjoyable visit to the refuge. Much of the refuge is located in rural areas of Indiana. Visitors should expect to traverse gravel roads that can be flooded during certain seasons. Many refuge access points are far from amenities.

Visitor Tips

For wildlife watching, periods of low light (dawn and dusk) are the best. Visit during the weekday to enjoy more solitude. Getting off the road and exploring a trail is a great way to find solitude. With so many access points, the refuge has many options to get away from the crowds.

Activities

There are a variety of ways to experience Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge and Management Area. Check to see if your favorite pastime is allowed or try something new from the list of permitted activities.

Trails

The refuge has nearly 10 miles of trails ranging from 0.25 miles up to 1.5 miles. There are 13 individually numbered and named trails on the refuge. Many trails are interconnected and can be combined. Trails are easy to moderate. Below is a description of four of the refuge trails. You can pick up a trail map at the refuge headquarters.

Trail 1: Massey Trail

Open Season: Open year round. Florescent orange required during hunting season.
Length: 0.8 miles
Location of trail: Columbia Mine Preserve
Surface: Natural, mowed
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: The trail is accessed from Copperbelly Path at the Columbia Mine Preserve and features a peninsula out into Massey Lake.

Trail 6 : Overlook Trail

Open Season: Open year round. Florescent orange required during hunting season as the property is open to limited hunting.
Length: 0.75 miles
Location of trail: Columbia Mine Preserve
Surface: Natural, mowed
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: The trail accessed from Timberdoodle Path at the Columbia Mine Preserve and features a panoramic view of Snakey Point Marsh.

Trail 9: Boyd Trail

Open Season: Open year round
Length: 0.23 miles
Location of trail: The parking lot for Boyd Trail is on the eastern edge of Snakey Point Marsh, located off CR 25 S just about one mile northeast of Oakland City.
Surface: Crushed gravel
Difficulty: Easy
Information: Boyd Trail offers great views of Snakey Point Marsh and leads to a fishing pier out into the marsh. Informational signage along the trail describe features of the area with brochures available at the trailhead. A pollinator garden can be found at the parking area. There is a comfort station at the Boyd Trail parking area.

Trail 3 Indian Hill Trail

Open Season: Open year round
Length: 1.5 miles
Location of trail: Florescent orange is required during hunting season as the property is open to limited hunting.
Surface: Natural, mowed
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: The Indian Hill Trail is a loop that winds through grassland, shrubland and mature forest. It includes great views of Paddlefish Pond, Indian Hill Lake and a nice panoramic view of the grasslands atop Indian Hill.

Other Facilities in the Complex

Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area

24 miles west of the refuge headquarters is the 466 acre Cane Ridge Wildlife Manangement Area. This property is south of the confluence of the Patoka River with the Wabash River. It lies off the southwest side of the 3,000 acre Gibson Lake created as a cooling pond for Duke Energy’s Gibson Station Power Plant. It was formerly row crop agriculture but was converted into a 70 acre Interior least tern nesting pool along with 193 acres of moist-soil management. After creation of the tern pool and moist-soil units in 2005, this area became a significant attractant to ducks, geese, shorebirds, marshbirds and wading birds. The management area is designated as an Audubon Important Bird Area.

White River Bottoms Wildlife Management Area

Nine miles north of the refuge headquarters is the 219 acre White River Bottoms Wildlife Management Area. This area is not technically part of the refuge acquisition area, but the land was transferred to the National Wildlife Refuge System in 1994 by the Farm Service Agency. This management area was restored from agricultural fields and planted to bottomland hardwood trees and is managed by Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge and Management Area.

Rules and Policies

Prohibited Activities 

  • Littering or dumping including spent shotshell casings
  • Use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting
  • Target practice or random shooting
  • Camping or overnight parking
  • Trapping furbearers
  • Open campfires or swimming
  • Taking or attempting to take any wildlife not authorized in these refuge regulations
  • Taking, cutting or destroying any plants or parts thereof including flowers, fruits, nuts, fungi, herbs, shrubs or trees other than specified for temporary blind construction
  • Use of off-road vehicles, horses, mules, llamas and bicycles other than on maintained road rights-of-ways
  • Marking trails, including with tape, ribbons, paper or paint tree blazes
  • Baiting or hunting over bait including salt
  • Blocking gates or roadways with vehicles
  • Searching for or removing any object of antiquity including arrowheads, pottery or beads
  • Use of metal detectors or digging for artifacts
  • Spotlighting is prohibited by state regulations
  • Use of fireworks, trail cameras and drones
  • Unless specifically listed as a permitted use, all uses of natural resources on the refuge are prohibited

To Report Violations

Law enforcement issues should be referred to the refuge at 812-522-3836 or the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Dispatch at 812-837-9536. You can also utilize the Turn In a Poacher Line at 1-800-POACHER (1-800-762-2437).
 

Locations

Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge
510 And One Half West Morton Street Oakland City, IN 47660-1637
Driving Directions

Straddling Pike and Gibson Counties in Southwestern Indiana, the refuge stretches 20 miles in an east-west direction along the lower third of the Patoka River. It is located 30 miles north of Evansville, IN by way of Interstate 69, and is adjacent to the small towns of Oakland City, IN along State Road 64 and Winslow, IN on State Road 61. The refuge headquarters is located at 510 ½ West Morton St. in Oakland City on the south side of State Road 64.

Hours
Headquarters Office Hours
Monday - Friday, except federal holidays
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Refuge Lands, Roads and Trails Hours
Daily
Dawn - Dusk for approved activities