Crooked Lake Nature Preserve
Crooked Lake Nature Preserve offers two trails through upland woods and along the shore of scenic Crooked Lake. Though the lakeside portions of the trails are prone to flooding, the peaceful and beautiful surroundings make this one of my favorite destinations in this part of the state.
Both paths share an initial stretch that begins at the parking area. Pass through the stile, and donít be surprised if one or more friendly local dogs join you.
You'll head south through what looks like an old field that has grown up in trees. Bear left at the fork and continue past a large barn; the trail soon veers right and begins to descend toward the lake along an old lane.
At the bottom, sign in at the registry box and, if available, pick up a copy of the detailed trail brochure. From here, trails lead either left or right.
The path to the left (east) follows the lake shore; it is muddy in spots and uses planks to cross some of the wetter areas. On occasion, Iíve found the trail inundated. The path affords an opportunity to appreciate the exceptionally clear water, and the lake setting is very attractive, though the presence of several homes on the south shore detracts somewhat from the view.
After a time youíll veer away from the lake shore and head left into the woods, then double back and begin climbing onto a ridge line adjacent to the lake. The trail follows this narrowing ridge line, and passes a small, dilapidated and rather forlorn cemetery on the left. Eventually the loop descends along the ridge line and ends at the registry box.
The path to the right (west) also shadows the lake shore for a few hundred yards; at one point, it becomes a boardwalk and passes through a nice patch of horsetail. Watch for downed trees and other signs of beaver activity; several of the large, primarily nocturnal rodents live here.
Eventually the trail turns away from the lake and climbs the adjacent hillside. Youíll pass near a more recent addition to the preserve before angling back toward the main access trail; it returns at the point of the first junction you encountered on entering the preserve.
Whitley County. From State Road 9, west on Noble/Whitley County Line Road for about one half mile to a parking area on the left (south).
North 41 15.915 West 85 28.296
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Nearby Natural Areas
Bloom: Hiking Indiana; Page 36
Habeck: Wild Indiana; Page 42
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
McPherson: Indiana Best Hikes; Page 46