Harmonie State Park
Posey County is best represented by Harmonie State Park with its many trails, water features, dense woodlands, and meadows. In addition, however, these lesser known — and sometimes quite remote — spots are worth checking out.
Hovey Lake Fish and Wildlife Area
On Hwy. 69 south. Take Hwy. 62 west through Mt. Vernon to Hwy. 69 south. A brown over-head sign marks this intersection as the Hovey turnoff. At Hovey, you can bird by car, on foot, or by water. Be aware of hunting seasons when the water and some access roads are off limits; and know that when the Ohio River is in flood, you can’t get near Hovey by road.
By car, take the rock access road north of the lake. It winds through the north and east portions of property surrounding the lake and provides frequent birding opportunities in the fields, along sloughs, at the north end of the lake, and along and through woods and brushy areas both along the lake and along the Ohio River. Park and walk frequently. This road functions primarily as a turn-road for farmers so may not be well maintained. At certain seasons the road is closed except to hunters, and at other times the road is too wet to drive. Use caution.
On foot, you can take the access road described above, following it past a sharp right turn to the northeast corner of the lake. There the auto road makes a sharp left and only an oil-well access path goes straight. You can, however, walk this path to the back part of Hovey Lake. Birding is great along the path and across the water. Take a scope.
Also on foot, you can walk the levee. To get there, drive past the entrance to Hovey Lake’s public access area (camping and picnic area) to the gravel road on the west boundary; turn left. Follow that road along the lake edge until you see the levee on the left. Park along the road and enjoy! Watch for Turkeys in the fields across the road.
By water, Hovey Lake is best accessed by canoe. Know, however, that it can be a maze. It’s best to go the first time with someone who knows the way through the stumps, sloughs, standing timber, and old creek beds. DNR folks at the visitor’s center can help, too.
Public Access Boat Ramp Area
Just south of Hovey Lake. Follow the gravel road bordering on the west and south of Hovey Lake Fish and Wildlife property until you get to the Ohio River public access boat ramp, birding along the road as you go. Then park in the boat ramp parking lot, walk along the woods edge, and check out the water. Scope the Kentucky shore for Bald Eagles in winter. Then drive on as far as road conditions allow. Less than ½ mile past the boat ramp is a woodsy area full of vines and brambles — and all sorts of birds! Watch the fields for Turkeys.
Twin Swamps is a Nature Conservancy property. Trails and boardwalks over sloughs and swamps. Great Bald Cypress stands; beautiful spring flowers; fine birds. Take Hwy. 62 west through Mt. Vernon to Hwy. 69 south (a left turn). Follow Hwy. 69 south past the entrance to Hovey Lake. Where the paved road takes a sharp left toward John T. Myers (Uniontown) Locks and Dam, go straight onto the gravel road (Co. Rd. 1500 S). In less than a city block, turn right onto another gravel road (Co. Rd. 300 W). Watch for Twin Swamps parking lot on the left.
Southwind Maritime Port Area
At the eastern edge of Mt. Vernon. Take Hwy. 62 west toward Mt. Vernon and follow the signs into the port. Check the open fields and brushy areas. At the river, turn east until the road dead-ends. Check the water for ducks, geese, and other water birds; check the brush and trees along the edges. Gulls, sometimes hawks, usually herons, and regularly sparrows. Migration can turn up anything.
On the Griffin Road, where there is a small community of summer camps. Brush and trees along the river as seen from the bridge usually offer an assortment of song birds.
North of Griffin. Take the Griffin exit off I-64 and turn north (right) through Griffin. At the north edge of town, turn right. Follow the road, turning left at each opportunity. The road eventually leads to the Wabash River. Check the sloughs, woods, fields, grasslands and river. Great warblers in spring; wide variety of habitat brings wide variety of birds throughout the year. (See DeLorme Map 60, A 4-5.)
New Harmony Town & Nearby Areas
North of Hwy. 62 just before the Wabash River Bridge. An old oxbow of the Wabash, Pitcher Lake has a wetlands on the north end where water birds hang out — herons, egrets, occasional shore birds during migration. Take Hwy. 62 west out of Mt. Vernon; turn right on the last road north before crossing the bridge to Illinois (but not the road at the bridge which takes you under the highway). The lake is visible from the highway. Road floods; be cautions.
New Harmony’s Murphy Park
On Hwy. 69. Easy access into picnic area. Tall trees offer decent spring birding, especially early in the morning before other folks come to picnic or play.
New Harmony Inn/Convention Center Grounds
On the north side of New Harmony. Walk the grounds for a variety of birds any time.
Atheneum Visitor Center Grounds
Along the Wabash River on the west edge of New Harmony. Check out the trees along the Wabash, the grassy areas between the Atheneum and the river, and areas under and around the highway bridge. Nice variety of sightings here.
Old Dam Road
South edge of New Harmony, off Hwy. 69. Turn right on Old Dam Road along the cemetery and follow the road to the Wabash River and the Old Dam. Bird along the road and along the river. Look for wild turkeys in the evening at the cemetery and many passerines along the road.
Big Cypress Slough
DNR property in southwestern Posey County. Pass Hovey Lake (see above) to where paved road veers sharply left. Take the gravel road straight ahead onto Co. Rd. 1500 S. Follow gravel road several miles to a sharp turn to right, along the slough. Lots of great birding from your car or on foot. Follow the road north to loop back east to Hwy. 69.
John T. Myers (Uniontown) Locks and Dam
At the end of Hwy. 69. Grounds always good for something — Great Blue Herons, hawks, vultures, ducks, geese, Belted Kingfishers, and so on. Large colony of nesting Cliff Swallows here.
Posey County Line Road
Marking the boundary between Vanderburgh and Posey counties, from Hwy. 62 south to where it tees into Old Mt. Vernon Road. Most of this road is gravel but reasonably well maintained. Bird the meadows, creek banks, and trees — lots of trees! Any number of surprises hidden here.
Posey County Auto Tours
Goose Pond Auto Loop
Goose Pond is Nature Conservancy property. Take Hwy. 62 west 5.9 miles from the traffic light at St. Philips Road and Hwy. 62. Turn left (south) onto the gravel road that runs alongside the east property boundary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Research Center. Cross two crossroads. Check the woods on the right. From the highway, it’s 2 ½ miles to Goose Pond.
Park and walk along the road from where the trees begin to where they end. The road makes a sharp left just past the under-road culvert connecting the two bodies of water. At that corner, look right to find another slough somewhat hidden from the road. Good birding throughout the area almost any time, but especially great during warbler migration.
Beyond Goose Pond, follow the road south (road deteriorates to a farmer’s turn road but is accessible in dry weather). At the Y, veer left to follow the Ohio River. Bird woods patches, trees along the river, fields, brushy areas.
Where the road tees, park and walk right (south) toward the river. Good for warblers, sparrows, etc.
Back in your car, turn left at the tee. As you travel north, Co. Rd. 700 E improves, becoming a paved road and returning to civilization and Hwy.
Half-Moon Pond/Wabash Lowlands Auto Loop
Half-Moon Pond is private property, but it is accessible for viewing from the county road. Take Hwy. 62 west through Mt. Vernon to Hwy. 69 south. Go about 3 ½ miles to a paved road to the right. There is no road sign, but there is a sign that directs drivers to Point Township Church of Nazarene. (It’s also the first road on the right past the crushed stone and rock yards and labeled on DeLorme Map 60 as Co. Rd. 1100 S.)
Turn right. In about one mile, the paved road turns left toward the Point Township Church, but go straight onto the gravel road. Follow it for about 4 ½ miles, birding the fields and patches of woods as you go. At 4 ½ miles, the road veers left with a side road coming in from the right. Half-Moon Pond is on the right. Use binoculars and/or a scope. Good for shorebirds, ducks, and a wide variety of other birds, depending on the season. Great Egrets in late summer; almost anything during migration.
Continue along the southern edge of Half-Moon Pond to its end, about 3/4 miles. Follow the gravel road about another mile through a sharp right curve and a sharp left curve to a heavily wooded lowland. This is river-bottom woods along the Wabash River. Great variety of birds almost all year long.
Road continues about another ½ mile before it dead ends on private property, but in that distance, the road deteriorates dramatically. In wet weather, this last part is inaccessible.
Wabash Lowlands Tract is south of Half-Moon Pond. To get there, return to Half-Moon Pond. At the west end of the pond, a road turns right where a sign indicates "DNR ck in." Bird the woods on the right (it’s DNR property, so you can walk through the woods, but there are no trails) and the brushy fields on the left. Called the Wabash Lowlands Tract, this property runs about a mile on either side of the road. Signs along the road mark it as "Dedicated State Nature Preserve, Wabash Lowland Tract, Wildlife Management Area."
A map of this DNR area is file #85a, sheet 1 of 1, dated 6/15/99, and titled "Hovey Lake Fish and Wildlife Areas, Posey County, Property Map."
A.B. Brown Generating Plant Perimeter Auto Loop
To take this loop through the community of West Franklin, take Hwy. 62 west, past USI, to Busler’s Truck Stop at the intersection with St. Philips Road (at the stop light). Turn left (south) onto West Franklin Road (it’s West Franklin to the south and St. Philips to the north). Pass the Twin Lake Mobile Home Court. Stay on West Franklin Road by veering left at the Y, following the sign to SIGECO. Check out the trees along both sides of the road. At SIGECO’s entrance, the road makes a sharp left. Bird the fence rows and woods.
About 3 1/4 mile from the highway, West Franklin Road tees into Smith Diamond Road (neither road is marked). Turn right onto Smith Diamond Road. In less than a ½ mile, power lines cross the road. Pull off on the left, park, and scope both sides of the road, the right side including holding ponds for the power plant.
Continue birding along the road. In about another mile, you will find yourself in the community of West Franklin on the Ohio River.
Turn right at the stop sign and travel west through the community. This is all private property, but park and walk. Several folks have bird feeders up, and the woods and fields are always alive with wings and songs. The road makes a sharp right at the western edge of the community and Co. Rd. 1085 E becomes gravel. Good birding along the road, woods, fields, grassy and brushy areas.
You’ll pass a cemetery on the left (also good birding) with the pull-off on the south edge of the grounds. At the next stop sign, go straight (the crossroad is SIGECO private property), and you’ll find yourself back on West Franklin Road. Turn left to return to Hwy. 62. (Also see Schissler Road Auto Loop below.)
Schissler Road Auto Loop
From West Franklin Road in Posey County, turn east on Schissler Road. It’s unmarked, but it’s about 100 feet north of Elk Trail Road that goes into the Twin Lake Mobile Home Park. For a short distance, Schissler Road hugs the edge of the trailer park, but then it becomes a narrow rock road through heavy woods and along fields. Pull off, park, and walk.
Follow the road east to West Franklin Road in Vanderburgh County. (These two roads by the same name do not connect.) Turn left on West Franklin to get back to Broadway and Hwy. 62. Or turn right to go into Union Township where West Franklin Road becomes Cypress-Dale Road. (See references above.)
If heading back to Hwy 62, follow West Franklin Road left (north) to Old Mt. Vernon Road. Turn left. Enjoy the birding along this road. Go straight at the first stop sign; take a hard right at the second stop sign. Hwy. 62 is a short distance north.
Purple Martin Colonies
Riecken Purple Martin Colony
At 1725 Old Plank Road off Hwy 69 about 4 miles south of New Harmony. Pass the Posey County Fairgrounds on the left, a hog farm on the right, and into the S curve on Hwy. 69. Where the highway veers left, take the gravel road straight ahead (the first gravel road to the right past the fairgrounds). Frank Riecken has both gourds and apartment houses in his colony.
Dempermeier Purple Martin Colony
At 1616 Country Club Road on the west side of Mt. Vernon off Hwy. 62. Although the colony is visible from both the highway and Country Club Road, the only safe pull-off is along Country Club Road.