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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Forestry > State Forest Properties > Deam Lake State Recreation Area Deam Lake State Recreation Area

Deam Lake State Recreation Area
1217 Deam Lake Road
Borden, IN 47106
(812) 246-5421
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Deam Lake is forest property designed for recreational activities. Under the multiple use concept, a variety of compatible activities are available. These include fishing, boating, swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking and hunting in designated areas. The 194-acre lake was constructed in 1965 and was named in honor of Charles Deam, Indiana's first state forester. Deam is best known for his book, Trees of Indiana, a comprehensive study of trees throughout the state. He was also instrumental in getting land set aside for what is now the Department of Natural Resources.

Deam's books Trees of Indiana and Shrubs of Indiana are available from the Historic Hoosier Hills RC & D. Books are $16 plus $3 shipping. To order, contact:

Historic Hoosier Hills Woodland Committee
P.O. Box 407
Versailles, IN 47042

SPECIAL NOTICE--Several volunteers are needed for a variety of events at Deam Lake SRA.  For details or to sign up as a volunteer, please contact the Deam Lake office at (812) 246-5421 or email at


Deam Lake has 116 class "A" campsites and an additional 68 class "A" sites in the horsemen's campground. The horsemen's campground has two short lead-outs to connect to the 80 miles of horse trails in Clark State Forest. Class "A" facilities include electrical hookup, modern restrooms/showers (at least one shower station wheelchair accessible), picnic table, fire ring and parking spur. Drinking water and a dump station are also available in the area.

Class A campsites will be available for reservation up to six months in advance by simply calling a toll-free telephone number or logging onto the Internet. Campers will be able to make reservations by calling, toll free, 1-866-6CAMPIN (1-866-622-6746) Monday through Thursday from Noon to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday between 8 a.m. and noon E.S.T. They may also log onto the Internet 24 hours a day at

Rent-a-Camp Cabins
Deam Lake State Forest Recreation Area has 12 rent-a-camp cabins, available seasonally (call property office for dates), including three in the horsemen’s campground. Each cabin has a front porch with a swing, outside electric outlet and front porch light. Inside, there are two small rooms each providing a ceiling fan with light, a heating/cooling unit and electrical outlets. The front room offers a small table with bench seats, corner shelf, chair, rocking chair, and a loft. The back room offers a bunk bed (single) and a double bed (NO LINENS or MATTRESS PROVIDED). Air mattress recommended. Reserve cabins online at (NOTE: On-site sales only during off season/winter months, contact property for details). No pets, smoking or cooking permitted in cabins.

194-acre lake; a valid Indiana fishing license is required. Boat launch ramp; boat motors are limited to electric trolling motors only. Rowboat rental is available from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The swimming beach is available from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Restrooms, dressing facilities, showers and food concessions are available to visitors. A wheelchair ramp allows access to beach area. Rowboat rental is available.

Whitetail deer, ruffed grouse, turkey, squirrel, fox and raccoon. A valid hunting license is required.

There are picnic areas and a picnic shelterhouse available for day use. Picnic tables and grills are located at the picnic sites. There is a playground area near the beach.

Forest Education Center

The Forest Education Center at Deam Lake is managed by a full-time naturalist who provides a variety of forestry-related programs throughout the year, as well as several special events, field days, and other field trip opportunities. Prior registration is required for groups of 10 or more, and all programs and field trips are free of charge with admission to Deam Lake. The Forest Education Center is wheelchair accessible, and is open beginning Memorial Day weekend from 8:30 am-3pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 11 am to 5 pm on Friday through Sunday. Times, dates and topics of interpretive programs and events vary from week to week.  Please visit the Forest Education Center, Office, Gatehouse or campground kiosk for detailed information. For more information, please call (812) 246-5421 during regular operating hours.  

Volunteer Opportunities

There are several volunteer opportunities at Deam Lake, spanning a broad range of knowledge, experience and skill sets.

Opportunities include:

  • Trail Clean-Up –If you can safely and skillfully use a chainsaw, we can certainly use your help in the continuing clean-up effort from the storms over the course of the past year.
  • Forest Education Center Clerk/Naturalist Aide - Assist the Naturalist with the development of new exhibits and helping visitors in the Naturalist's absence. Woodworking skills greatly appreciated! 
  • Smokey Bear – If you enjoy children, you’ll really enjoy wearing the Smokey Bear suit during special events and occasionally on the weekends for programs.
  • Programs Assistant - Assist the Naturalist with developing and presenting new and/or improved programs. Experience with children preferred.

To apply or inquire about any of the volunteer opportunities listed above, please call (812) 246-5421.


Hiking Trails
Deam Lake SRA is home to five hiking trails, which range from easy to rugged. All trails are marked with white paint blazes. At certain points on Trails 3 and 4, you may encounter trees with two white paint blazes. Two blazes means that there is a split in the trail (horse trails and rogue trails often confuse hikers), and that you should locate the next white paint blaze before continuing. Descriptions of each trail can be found below. Hikers are advised to wear hunter orange or other bright clothing while on trails during hunting season. Should you have any further questions regarding difficulty, trail updates, or problems, please call (812) 246-5421 during regular operating hours. In addition to Deam Lake's hiking trails, a trailhead to the Knobstone Trail is also located on the property.

  • Trail 1 (approximately six-tenths of a mile)
    Trail 1 is the easiest available trail at Deam Lake State Recreation Area. The entrance is located just to the east of the campground gatehouse. Trail 1 will lead you in a loop through a Virginia pine dominated forest with very little storm damage. An easy hike that takes about 20-30 minutes to complete.
  • Trail 2 (approximately two-tenths of a mile)
    Trail 2 is the shortest of our hiking trails, but provides a great shortcut from the campground to the front of the property where access to the Forest Education Center, many shelterhouses, and our beach are located. Accented by two wooden foot bridges, Trail 2 has a bit of storm damage, but is easily passable.
  • Trail 3 (estimated three miles)
    Trail 3 is the only “multi-purpose” trail at Deam Lake State Recreation Area, as well as the longest. Beginning as the “yellow” horse trail and with a trailhead located across from the Pine Barn in our Horse Campground, Trail 3 will lead you on a gravel path around the north and east end of the lake, where several views of the lake can be found. At the end of the trail, you can continue on to the other trailhead on Wilson Switch Road, or take the route down across the dam on what is soon to become a part of a rerouted Knobstone Trail trailhead.
  • Trail 4 or Lake Vista Trail (estimated two and one-half miles)
    Trail 4, also known as the Lake Vista Trail, is the most scenic, but also the most rugged trail at Deam Lake State Recreation Area. Beginning about 500 yards north-west of the campground gatehouse, the entrance is marked with a large wooden sign noting it as such. The trail will lead you through bottomlands which can be muddy or even submerged in water during wet times or after a heavy rain. The trail then runs up onto steep and rolling hills which overlook the lake. At the apex of the trail, a large rock cutout is encountered from the top of which you can see the lake. On the back end of the loop, heavy storm damage can at times make the trail difficult to follow, so paying attention to the white paint blazes on the trees is very important. Again, if you come upon a tree with two white paint blazes, you should locate the next white paint blaze before continuing.
  • Trail 5 or Forest Education Trail (estimated one quarter mile)
    Our newest addition to our trail system, the Forest Education Trail is still somewhat under construction. Blazed, cut, and built last year by an Eagle Scout candidate and volunteers, it fell victim to flooding and storm damage. In ideal conditions, it is a short, easy, self-guided educational hike with interpretive signposts posted throughout. It starts just north of the Forest Education Center, leads visitors to the lakefront, and around to the rear end of the Forest Education Center

A Note to all hikers
You are welcome to report to the office or Forest Education Center before and after your hike if you feel it may be safer. None of the trails are extremely difficult, but changing weather scenarios can make traversing some areas a challenge. Be sure to pack plenty of water before any extended hike. Additional supplies such as a compass are suggested, but not necessary as all trails have been marked. If any horse riders are encountered on any trail except for Trail 3, please report their presence to the office, Forest Education Center, or our Naturalist. We also ask that you carry out all supplies and trash that you carry into the trails, as we are not staffed adequately to do regular trail cleanup.

Mountain Bike Trails

Deam Lake S.R.A./Clark S.F. offers 5 miles of mountain bike trails. Mountain bikes are only permitted on those designated trails. View our publications page for further details and a trail map.