Scales Lake Park, Boonville, IndianaThe Quick Click pages will scroll automatically or you can click any tab to keep that page open. Numbers on the tabs refer to our Ratings, which are explained on the Tips page.Summary Eighty percent very nice; 20 percent “what were they thinking?”Location 800 W. Tennyson Road, Boonville, IN 47601, less than 20 miles east of Evansville.Fee: There was an entry fee of $2.00 when we visited in May 2012.Maps and Elevation Profiles There’s more singletrack than appears on our Garmin and RideWithGPS pages, but the bulk of it is shown there. There are two aberrations on the maps, one right at the 3 mile point and one where the route leaves the road to rejoin singletrack just before the 4 mile mark. The maps provided by the park office were terrible and nearly illegible; signage is okay in spots and wholly missing elsewhere. These aberrations were the natural result of navigational challenges. But the maps are otherwise accurate. Because the maps indicated the Hatchery and Goat Trail sections were closed, our route bypassed those with a short road section.Phone For the park office it’s 812-897-6200.Timing The park is enjoyable any time of year, but if you’re coming for a certain activity it’s best to call ahead. The beach, for example, was scheduled to close two weeks before Labor Day in 2012. The MTB trails may be closed in winter or when muddy to prevent trail damage.Where to Stay Not much in the vicinity; Evansville has good lodging options and it’s just a half-hour drive to the west. The park has four, 2-bedroom cabins and a wide range of camping options, from 50-amp sites with full hookups to primitive sites beside the lake.Where to Eat Nothing in the park and not much in Boonville. We ate at Logsdon’s Restaurant on State Road 62 on the east side of Boonville. Good decor. Good prices. Clean restrooms. Very good service in view of the unexpected rush that arrived. The food was good, but not great, which is to be expected since we’re pescatarians (the only meat we eat is fish and seafood) and Logsdon’s is meat-centric.We said 80 percent of this park is very nice and 20 percent was not, so we’ll apply that ratio to each of several categories in this review.Camping and Cabins The 80 percent: there’s a wide variety of sites, from full hookups to primitive. Some are right on the edge of the lake; what a great place to start and end your day. The cabins are near the lake and secluded at the end of a drive that serves only those cabins. The main campground includes many sites that are well shaded. The 20 percent: Sites in the center area of the main campground are much too tightly compacted. You could sit in your RV and watch your neighbor’s TV. If the social component of RVing is a primary appeal for you, you may enjoy this environment. To us it’s the RV equivalent of housing projects.Beach The 80 percent: The beach area is large and seemed clean. There’s a water slide into a pool and the bath house looked to be in good condition. The beach hadn’t opened yet for the year when we visited so we can’t vouch for it from personal experience; we made these observations from the parking area. The 20 percent: A short season. For 2012 the beach was scheduled to close on August 12. There’s plenty of hot weather after that date in southern Indiana. The closure probably reflects the diminished availability of life guards and other personnel as young workers head back to school. The premature closure is an understandable, but regrettable, business decision. Petting Zoo The 80 percent: It was clean and the animals had plenty of fresh water. Most of them also had room to roam. Attendants were on hand and busy maintaining the area and tending to the animals. In modern America where few children get to be up close to animals other than pets, a petting zoo can provide valuable education and lend realism to their perception of animals. The 20 percent: no matter how well the animals are cared for, a petting zoo is still lifelong confinement for them.Trails The 80 percent: While there’s not a lot of trail (about 8 miles), most of it is well-designed and fun to ride. The builders have packed a lot of interesting features into a small trail system. Note that Rich rode the trail counterclockwise while his Garmin was running. The few signs (occasional blue arrows) were visible only from that direction so he assumed that was the preferred direction of travel. Turns out some sections are one-way the other direction and, in Rich’s opinion, the whole system rides better in a clockwise direction. The 20 percent: The maps are nearly useless. There’s far too little signage. The entire system is confusing and the segments are not well integrated. Rich’s main gripe is that much of the trail is not built to IMBA standards. The biggest violation is frequent fall-line sections. Teddy Bear and Dragon Back both have multiple instances. The former is rated Extreme and the latter Difficult due in large part, no doubt, to the challenge of riding fall-line trail. Difficult and Extreme ratings result either from careful design and engineering (Schooner Trace at Brown County State Park in Indiana is one of the best examples) or from total disregard for design and engineering, which is the case here. There are two truths about fall-line trails. One, they are fun to descend and easy to build. Two, they are unsustainable and their construction is the height of irresponsibility.Because we have lots of trail pix, we’ll do a little photo essay next.This boardwalk (left) brings riders from the road to the start of the Jedi section. The shot is looking back toward the road. This jump (below) includes a ride-around option and arrows indicating that traffic may be coming from either direction; both are important elements in building such a feature. Approaches were solidly constructed, but the ramps needed a little more dirt to compensate for soil compression and to eliminate the lip of wood at the launch.These drops and the adjacent ride-around (seen from below and above in these two photos) exaggerate both the fun and the erosion that come with fall-line trail. And it’s worth noting that the blue arrows led Rich to the lower approach where few riders could clean such a steep climb.Please don’t take our criticisms to mean that we don’t like the trails at Scales Lake. We do. And we applaud those who build and maintain them; we have no doubt that their collective heart is in the right place. But in this day when construction standards are so clear, so widely accepted, and so readily available, there’s no excuse for building trails in violation of those standards.Eighty Percent Ain’t Bad An 80 percent approval rating is pretty good for a small park in a rural location in today’s economic environment. Factors contributing to the 80 percent other than those we already cited include a friendly, helpful staff and immaculate restrooms. In fact, the entire park was neat and tidy, from the parking lots to the playgrounds to the picnic areas. While there is room for improvement, the things done well at Scales Lake could serve as benchmarks for those facilities at other public properties. And what really matters is the user’s experience. Ours was very good and we’re looking forward to our next visit here. Let us know what you think. Send us an e-mail (e-mail addresses are on the Contact page) or post your comments on our Facebook page.1. Scales Lake is a beautiful setting.2. This backstop and scoreboard haven’t been used in years.3. A teeter-totter makes a fun challenge.4. Another fun challenge is this superelevated boardwalk.5. An example of erosion due to fall-line trail.6. Unusual trail hazards can occur across the street from the petting zoo.