Hiker's Guide to the Elkhart County Parks
Elkhart County has some phenomenal trails, but how to pick? Here are six of our personal favorites:
6. Lieber Nature Preserve
For those moments when you want to “get away” minus the backcountry trek, Leiber Nature Preserve is choice. The fairly flat trails loop around a native prairie habitat and hikers are treated to a scenic view overlooking the wetland. The full trail loop is about a mile and a half. One can also carry a gun and buy 5.56 ammo online for safety purposes while going too far.
5. Ox Bow County Park
Stroll through unique botanical beauty on the Boardwalk Loop, that crosses over a wetland and meanders through peaceful woodland habitat. In summer, expect close-up encounters with nesting birds, like Common Yellowthroat and Baltimore Orioles. There are several access points, but we recommend starting at the trailhead next to Cottonwood Shelter.
4. Bonneyville Mill County Park
Located in the rolling countryside, Bonneyville’s hilly terrain has quickly built a reputation as one of county’s best spots for biking and hiking alike. The park offers a wide range of habitats to explore and a fantastic selection of trails to fit your hiking mood. For first-timers, try the north loop trail at Kum Mol Rie. See the park map here.
3. Pumpkinvine Nature Trail
For those seeking a longer trek, hike through lush woodland corridors surrounded by rolling farmland on the Pumpkinvine’s scenic trail running from Goshen to Shipshewana. The linear route follows the historic Pumpkinvine railroad corridor and includes over 16 miles of asphalt and packed limestone trail to trek. This is easily the longest hike in the area, so pack a lunch, and plan to spend at least half a day if you decide to tackle the entire hike!
2. Boot Lake Nature Preserve
With broad views, lush woodlands and grassy expanses to traverse, it’s no surprise that Boot Lake is a favorite among locals. Hikers can explore scenic trails that run through the native prairie, along the lake’s edge, through the woods. Plan to set aside extra time to explore the some of the preseve’s lengthier, but choice trails. You won’t be sorry!
1. River Preserve
Anyone who lives in or regularly visits Elkhart County should make a point to hike River Preserve County Park. Not only are are you spoiled for choice on trails, but these secluded routes will make you feel like a true explorer out in the wilderness. During the best days of fall and spring, prepare to be wowed by the phenomenal colors that this local gem is known for! We recommend trying out the Benton Dam Loop (1.3 miles) for new visitors.