Lake Getaways Without The Crowds
Patoka Lake: Quiet pleasures
Breakfast time means sitting with a cup of coffee and the local weekly paper at the Patoka Lake Cafe while you wait for thick blueberry pancakes. Cute shops ring nearby Jasper's historic square. A new history museum and the cathedrallike West Baden Springs Hotel stand 15 minutes north of the lake. But not a single home lines Patoka's forested shoreline, where ospreys waddle before taking flight. A wide, pebble-flecked beach lures swimmers, and little ones can wade all the way out to the ropes with their heads still bobbing above water. It's enough to make Clarence Aramowicz of Worden, Illinois, shake his head. He's used to Missouri's busy Lake of the Ozarks.
"This is clear, clean. I like the way all of the shallow parts are marked," Clarence says. "It's nice. Why don't more people know about this place?"
Sunburned swimmers around him lick ice cream cones and shrug. The conversation peters out as Ricky Skaggs drawls on the radio. The scent of freshly baked pepperoni pizza wafts out of the marina store, heralding suppertime. Maybe it's better that no one's here. Imagine the noise at Patoka Lake if more people decided to come by.
Pictured: Patoka Lake Marina sells fishing rods for kids and adults.
Trip guide to Patoka Lake begins on slide 11.