Prophetstown is one of Indiana’s newest State parks, established in 2004. It has several components, including a pioneer farm and Native American village, with natural areas focused on reconstructed tallgrass prairie. There are four hiking trails and a long bike trail. Trails 1 and 2 together form a figure eight and for much of their path either skirt or pass through the reconstructed prairie. Because the grasses are so tall, the effect can sometimes be like walking along the bottom of a mowed trench with a wall of grass on either side. During the summer and early fall various tallgrass wildflowers are also present.
A short side trail off Trail 1 leads to a prairie fen – a very unusual ecosystem for Indiana. Fens are alkaline wetlands and support species that are rare or absent elsewhere. Numerous side trails connect Trails 1 and 2 to other features in the park. The northern end of Trail 2 passes a pond and observation platform that overlooks a large expanse of intermittent wetlands and reconstructed prairie/meadow.
Trail 3 has three main components. One explores the woods along the northern side of the park; there are large oak trees growing on the slope. Another segment follows a gravel road through the middle of an open wetland/prairie area. The third segment follows the banks of the Wabash River for a while. A lightly used and possibly informal trail leads to the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers, where vast numbers of mussel shells, some quite large, are cast up on the shore.
Trail 4 is a long-stemmed lollipop that begins off Trail 3. It follows the west bank of the Tippecanoe River from its confluence with the Wabash, continuing north until it loops around an area of young trees. The best river views are just before the river splits around an island. The trail gets closer to the river once it passes the island, but by then the views are dominated by cabins, houses, and various structures arrayed along the opposite bank.
My advice is to focus on the segment joining Trails 1 and 2 (including the fen), the northern end of Trail 2 (including the pond and observation deck), the wooded portion of Trail 3, the confluence area, and the closest parts of Trail 4.
Directions: Tippecanoe County. From I-65 Exit 178, go south 0.4 miles on IN 43 to Burnett Road, then left 0.4 miles to 9th Street, then right 0.4 miles to Swisher Road, then left 2.5 miles to the entrance station (Fee).
GPS: N 40 29.825 W 86 50.576
Facilities: Water, bathrooms, camping, shelters, playgrounds.