Crooked Lake Nature Preserve

Crooked Lake Nature Preserve

Last week Sunny and I ventured to Crooked Lake Nature Preserve in Columbia City, Indiana hoping to find a trail with a view and access to a lake. We were in luck! Not only did we find miles of trails in the woods, but we had both views of the lake and the chance to get down to the water. As an added bonus we also stumbled on a section of the trail that is a memorial to former Indiana Governor, Ralph F. Gates.

There are two sections of the Crooked Lake Nature Preserve. We explored the section north of the lake including the Ralph F. Gates Acres Land Trust site. Upon entering this part of the preserve you walk on a gravel path that turns into a narrow trail with a lot of growth on both sides. This was our least favorite section of the trail as the view wasn’t great and the growth encroached on the trail in some areas. Despite that we found some interesting downed trees to explore. After a short distance we found ourselves in a more scenic area.

trail at the start
the trail narrows at Crooked Lake Nature Preserve
exploring a downed tree

As we continued our hike we finally started to see some views of the lake. We also found a trail to the right that led to the Ralph F. Gates Nature Preserve which extends about a mile in the woods. The land for this preserve was given to the Acres Land Trust in 1977 to commemorate former Indiana Governor, Ralph F. Gates. This part of the trail was similar to other Acres Land Trust locations – a nice trail through the woods, but also had a great view of the lake. We also found an unoccupied building with a dock so we ventured out on it to get a look at the lake.

Ralph F. Gates Nature Preserve
unoccupied building near the water
checking out Crooked Lake

After following the Ralph F. Gates trail for about half a mile we turned around and walked back to the original trail. We continued exploring the trail and found it followed close to the water. The best part is it had sections where we could get down to the water. And we saw quite a few trees that had literally shed their bark. After hiking for nearly 2M, we decided it was time to head back to the parking lot. Our total hike was nearly 3M. We plan to return to further investigate the trail, the Ralph F. Gates preserve, and even check out the trails south of Little Crooked Lake.

Sunny checking out Crooked Lake.
trees shedding their bark

Our Rating

Sunny and I really enjoyed our outing to Crooked Lake Nature Preserve and rate it 3 out of 4 paws up. We loved that we could hike for more than 3 miles and get down to the water. The downside for us was some sections of the trail are quite narrow and not that scenic and there is not restroom. Despite that we will return to explore some of the other trails including more of the Frank F. Gates addition.

How do I get there?

Take Route 8 to Noble County then turn left onto 3 South. After about a mile, turn right onto E. Baseline Road and continue for nearly 11 miles. Turn left on 9S/S. Baseline Road. Continue for 7 miles, then turn right onto 600S. The parking lot is about half a mile on the left just before the road turns to the right.

For more information check out Official Website of the State of Indiana.

Crooked Lake Nature Preserve

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