Another beautiful fall day means another adventure. This time we explored two parks in Elkhart, IN. The first stop was Boot Lake Nature Preserve which consists of 300 acres of wetland, forest, and prairie and four miles of trails. It is also home to over 200 species of birds making it a great place for bird watching and hiking. During our hike we found a picnic pavilion, wetland and prairie overlooks, and trails in both the forest and prairie.
After parking the car we found two entrances to the trails; one to the left of the parking area and one in front of the restroom. We entered in front of the restroom since this trail starts in the woods and the other one starts in the prairie. After a short distance we saw the picnic pavilion on our left. We continued into the woods and enjoyed the serenity of hiking among the trees.
Eventually the trail led to a large tree near the entrance to a dock. We continued onto the dock which led to an observation point on Boot Lake. We found a bench at the end of the dock making it a nice spot to rest and enjoy the scenery. Unfortunately you can only observe the lake from this observation point and not get down in the water. We found this to be true for both the lakes.
After checking out the dock observation point we continued on the trail and eventually ended up on the South Prairie Trail, which is a trail in the prairie (field). This also provided views of the lake, but we could not get very close to it. There were several spots to re-enter the woods and we did that and followed the North Woods Trail to the North Prairie Trail. As the name suggests the North Prairie Trail is another trail in a prairie. We followed this for quite awhile and eventually ended up on the South Prairie Trail which returned us to the parking lot. We hiked three miles and saw the majority of the preserve.
Although the preserve has a variety of trails both through the woods and prairies, it also has several informational signs with a map of the preserve. The map indicates “you are here” which really helps in finding your way. There are also color coded trail markers that correspond to the preserve map. We downloaded a copy of the trail map before leaving home which also helped keep us from getting lost.
Sunny and I give Boot Lake Nature Preserve 3.5 out of 4 paws up. There are miles of trails both in the woods and prairies, views of two lakes, and some interesting docks and outlook points to climb on. There is also ample parking, a restroom, and trail maps throughout. The only downside for us, is no ability to get our toes wet.
How do I Get There?
The address for Boot Lake Nature Preserve is 51430 County Road 3 in Elkhart, IN. Since the Nature Preserve is a bit off the beaten path, we recommend visiting it with Cobus Creek County Park. To get there take I-69 and exit at I-80/I-90 which is the Indiana State Toll Road. Keep right onto I-90W and continue for 52M. Exit at #92 onto IN-19 toward Elkhart. Cost of the toll on the day of our adventure was $3.80. Turn right onto IN-19 and then left onto County Road 4. After nearly 2.5M turn right onto Edwardsburg Road. After .2M turn right onto County Road 3N and continue for .4M, then turn right onto Willams Lane. The turn is just after a brick mailbox and there is a small sign for the preserve. Follow the road to the end where you will find the parking lot.
For more information about Boot Lake Nature Preserve check out the Elkhart County Parks website.