A Walk in the Woods: Boot Lake Nature Preserve

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By: John Griffee


Nestled off of County Road 3 in Elkhart lies Boot Lake Nature Preserve, the premier view of multiple types of environments in the area. Boot Lake is reminiscent of many parks that have been covered before for the series, most similar to St. Patrick’s County Park and Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve. 

Boot Lake offers pathways that allow anyone to fully enjoy the bounds of the park, whether the aim is to spend a long afternoon on the trails or just thirty minutes. Therein lies the beauty of Boot Lake’s trail system, chock full of side trails that weave through the park and interconnect. The majority of the trails offered drop off at the half-mile mark for length, giving visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in nature without extensive distances. 

Boot Lake Nature Preserve gets its namesake from the lake featured off of the South Woods trail. The lake itself gives great insight into how the local landscape transforms through the seasons, as the waters were low, revealing a divet-filled field of muck. Shallow pools dotted the chocolate expanse of a view that was screaming for more rainfall. 

Despite the low receded water levels, life was abundant in the area, with scattered forms speckled across the marshy remains. While nowhere near its full capacity for aquatic activity, the view of the lake doesn’t diminish as it gives visitors a look into the way the environments change over time and the seasons. 

Boot Lake Nature Preserve shows off three distinct environments within its three hundred acre bounds. The trails lead visitors into the sprawling forests filled with the sound of animals gearing up for another bountiful spring and distant signs of summer. Emptying out to a view of the wetland area, there are two stations that give a look at the lake.

The first station available at the park can be found on the South Woods trail, while the second station mingles with the divide between the forest and prairie. The forest that so easily can feel fully enveloping soon opens and reveals rolling prairies, just beginning to show signs of the fantastic colors to come. 

The small observation deck really signals the point of interconnection between the three different landscapes, showing how diverse even a small stretch of land can be. As the months roll on, the view will transform and reach another cycle’s peak of activity. 

Boot Lake’s beauty is easy to appreciate, backed up by the number of visitors in the parking lot. There is no entrance fee, and the park has plenty of information boards along the trails, including event lists, nature-centered insights and a trail list. 

Well worth the visit, Boot Lake is a great park to spend any day at as our world begins to change color yet again. Is there a park or wildlife topic that you want to see covered? Email me at jgriffee@iu.edu with suggestions.

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