A few days ago I planned to go to Wing Haven in Angola, IN and somehow ended up in Huntertown, IN. If you know anything about this part of Northern Indiana you know that Angola and Huntertown are not anywhere near each other. In fact they are opposite directions from where I live. The lesson here is not to become too dependent on your GPS. The good news is that Sunny and I finally made it to Wing Haven and we were glad we did.
Helen Swenson donated the land for Wing Haven to the Acres Land Trust in 1984. She and her husband, Ben, purchased the land and built a home there while they managed the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park. They managed the inn from 1937 until 1948. The visitor center and artist studio you walk past at the beginning of the hike was their home. They also built and operated the Wing Haven Resort on land adjoining the northwestern edge of the preserve. Although Ben died in 1954, Helen continued to operate the resort for another 15 years.
The main trail and entrance is near the parking lot and Acres Land Trust welcome sign. There are two other grass trails, one near the parking lot and one a little further down the road leading to the parking lot. We did not explore those, but likely will return to do that.
The trail takes you past the Swenson home and shortly to fork with two trails. One trail leads to Little Gentian Lake and the other to the Trillium Woods trail. We started by walking toward the lake since Sunny and I love water. The hike to the lake is fairly short, includes some wood platforms, and unfortunately does not end at a shoreline. Instead there is a small dock on the water. The views are quite nice, but Sunny was disappointed she could not put her toes in the water.
After enjoying the view of the water, we retraced our steps and took the Trillium Woods trail. This is your typical wooded trail with lots of inclines and descents. It also isn’t very wide and has roots and other obstacles making it a challenge for anyone with stability or mobility issues. In fact, this trail is rated a 4 out of 5 trail difficulty by Acres Land Trust and is not recommended for those not in good health.
After walking for about half a mile there is a steep staircase to descend into the ravine. There appears to be a creek or stream that runs through the ravine, but sadly during our visit it was dry. We still enjoyed the views of the dry creek, forest, and fallen trees. This is one of the more scenic preserves we have visited.
After walking around in the ravine the trail takes a sharp incline up and out of the ravine. It comes up behind the visitor center/artist studio that was the Swenson home. The total distance for the walk to the lake and then through Trillium Woods was just under a mile. We did the Trillium Woods trail loop a second time for a total distance of 1.5M. The Acres Land Trust website indicates a trail distance of 1.9M and we assume that includes the two grassy trails that we did not investigate.
We rate Wing Haven 3 out of 4 paws up. It is a lovely walk in the woods with a view of the lake. There is even a rustic restroom at the start of the hike. Parking is great, too. The only thing that would make this better for us is if the trail was a bit longer and you could get down to the water. All in all this is a wonderful preserve for those who can handle inclines, descents, and uneven trails. We will definitely make the trip back to further investigate and hopefully when the creek has water in it.
How do I get there?
Take 69 toward Angola and exit at IN 127. Take 127 South then turn left onto W 400 N. After about half a mile turn left onto the gravel road that looks like a driveway. Follow the road to the Acres Land Trust parking lot. Enter the trail near the Acres Land Trust white welcome sign.
For more information check out the Acres Land Trust website.