LaGrange County has a stunning array of wild, natural beauty to behold at any season. Autumn in particular glows with our beloved woods and the yesteryear charm of farm country. The LaGrange County Parks Department encourages residents to take a wild ride and relax in the autumn glow. The idea is to avoid highways as much as possible. Slow down and traverse the backroads and watch for more than fall foliage. If you are willing to stray from the tour route, there are interesting places to stop from time to time.
It is recommended to start the tour at LaGrange County Courthouse, which is just north of the junction of SR 9 and US 20.
The tour starts along an old Indian trail and through heritage farm country. Go south of LaGrange on SR 9 for one mile. Going west on CR 100S to the stop sign at 00EW brings you within sight of a country ice cream shop. South on 00EW ½ mile to the right fork leads down Hawpatch Road. Follow its curves for roughly five miles when it changes to CR 200W. At CR 550S a right (west) turn leads by the log cabin village of David Rogers Memorial Park, 2355W 550S.
David Rogers Park is LaGrange County's first county park. It has the grave and memorial to Dr. David Rogers, a pioneer herb doctor, land speculator and philanthropist. The pioneer log houses are all relocated to this site to honor Dr. Rogers and the other pioneers of the early and mid 1800s.
Nearby is Delt Church Park at 6455S 200W. There is a hardwood forest, prairie planting, Little Elkhart River, and the MegaTower Playground.
This quarter of the county is primarily family farms and wood lots. Forests are made up of maple, oak, black walnut, and wild black cherry trees. Black walnut trees are very important economically for the annual nut harvest, while walnut and wild cherry lumber are heavily used in the local furniture industry.
Travel west to CR 300W and then turn left (north) 3.5 miles to CR 200S. Then left (west) three miles through broad, fertile plains.
A couple of generations ago these fields raised mint. Many legends are still told about the pervasive fragrance from the mint stills. The Emma Store is at CR 600W. They have ice cream, pies, and more in the old diner. North on 600W for 1.5 miles then west (left) on 050S meets Meadowview Elementary School at SR 5.
North (right) on SR 5 travels right through Shipshewana. Linger at the many unique shops. Or bypass town and enjoy the countryside. Turn west (left) on US 20 for ½ mile to CR 850W. North (right) to CR 200N and east (right) still brings you to Shipshewana.
Travel straight through town to a T at CR 675W then north (left) about two miles and turn east (right) on CR 450N. The countryside will reflect two changes. This area is formerly tall-grass prairie and large open-grown oaks dot areas that bordered where prairie met forest. The second change is water. soon the tour parallels the Pigeon River and marsh and swamp add to the landscape. Color is silver and red maples, mulberry, white and black oak, and cottonwood.
At 450W drift sought, right, .5 mile and east, left, on 400N. The road curves and blends in to 450N.
Continue east, right, on 450N. This road will drive by LaGrange County's largest Sycamore tree on the north side of the road and the newest Osprey nest on the south side. Follow the curve north to SR120.
Cross SR120 to 600N. Turn east, right, on 600N and tour through lake area. Cross SR9 on the north edge of Howe. Historically Howe is know for The Howe School; a military preparatory school, an active Saturday morning farmer's market, and Chrissy the Skunk Woman. At 250E turn south, right, to SR120.
East, left, drives right by Pine Knob County Park, 2825E SR120. Pine Knob features Meteer Lake with public access, oak hickory woods, prairie savanna, and a 1.7 mile archery course with 3-D animal targets.
East on SR120 to 325E. Turn south, right, into the County quadrant of wild land. Enter Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area, 13,000 acres of wildlife habitat. It is managed for white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and waterfowl. Pigeon River F&WA is also home to many songbirds, wildflowers, and rare habitats.
Pigeon River is funded through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.
County Road 325E curves into 500N for 1.5 mile. South, right, on 475E and follow the curves. This road leads past Curtis Creek Trout Rearing Station, where many of northern Indiana's sport fish are raised. Tours are not often available, but visits are welcome. The road bridges over Pigeon River and past another Osprey nest.
At the T with 400N turn east, left, for 2 miles to 600E or continue straight to Mongo. Travel south, right, on 600E through pines, oaks, sugar maples, and wetlands. In 2.5 miles pass Cline Lake and the Cline Lake fen, a rare wetland type found in LaGrange County. The road curves into 025N, then turn south, left, on 500E and cross over US20.
South of US20 1 mile and .5 mile west is Maple Wood Nature Center, 4550E 100S. Maple Wood is the headquarters of Park environmental education programs and is best known for its working maple syrup operation during early spring. Maple is open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sunday afternoons.
A 6 mile long stretch on 500E transitions from wild land back to farms. One of the County's distinctive livestock is bison. A large bison operation welcomes visitors at 600S. At 700S turn west, right, 2.5 miles to SR9 near the north edge of Wolcottville. Cross over SR9 and enter the Indian Lakes Chain.
Five lakes are interconnected and allow boaters access any of them through the others.
Before the intersection of 700S and 075W is the entrance to Dallas Lake County Park, 0505W 700S.
This is the headquarters of LaGrange County Parks and is home to shoreline of Dallas Lake, Pond Lil wetlands, many watchable wildlife species.
The final portion of the Color Tour travels north, right, on 075W for 1.5 mile. The road curves right into 550S. Follow the straight path (not the curve to the north) for 1 mile through preserved marsh land.
At 050E turn north, left, for 1 mile to pass by Oliver Lake. Or continue straight east for another .75 mile to Olin Lake nature preserve. Bald Eagles have returned nesting in LaGrange County for the past two years and Olin Lake is the site, the largest undeveloped lake in Indiana. After passing Oliver Lake T into 450S and turn west, left, to 00EW. North, right, for 4.5 miles completes the circuit and returns to LaGrange. Enjoy your visit.
Typical autumn tree colors
Wondering what trees are what colors? Here is a list of what colors that certain tree leaves typically show in the fall:
Brown - oak, hickory
Purple – white oak, ash
Bright yellow - sugar maple, tulip poplar
Pale yellow - basswood, mulberry, silver maple,
Orange - sugar maple, sassafras
Red - red maple, silver maple, dogwood