With 25 recreation parks in Dane County, Indian Lake County Park ranks as one of the largest and most popular according to a recent survey. Located along State Hwy. 19 in the Town of Berry (north of Cross Plains), the park encompasses prairies, rolling meadows, valleys, wetlands, and woodlands centered around a 67-acre lake formed by the glacial melt.
To see this gorgeous hilltop view, take a short walk from the shelter parking lot, up some wooden stairs, and past a secular place of meditation, built in 1857.
Offering a wonderful blend of natural, cultural, and recreational resources, such as fishing, kayaking, cross-country skiing and hiking, the park also has an exercise area for dogs, a log cabin warming house, and a boat launch (gas motors are prohibited).
The Friends of Indian Lake County Park (FOIL) is the nonprofit group that stewards the park to help restore its native landscape. FOIL also sponsors a fall trail run as part of the Savanna Trail Race Series.
According to the 2018-2023 Dane County Parks and Open Space Plan, recent park projects include a new playground, timber frame shelter and restroom, accessible fishing pier, and fish/lake restoration to remove carp and reestablish native vegetation.
Most likely to catch your attention are the park's inhabitants: an abundance of swimming, soaring, and slithering wildlife. They were certainly active on a late summer day.
Water lapping gently around its pair of stilts, a blue heron waited in the shallows to lurch for its prey. In the middle of the lake, a fish jumped and slapped the surface. Soon after, a dragonfly hovered above a lily pad. Sunbathing turtles scrambled off a partially submerged limb and plopped into the water. Later, an egret swooped in to join the party.
Surveying the whole scene from above was a bald eagle. In the nearby prairie, finches torpedoed toward yellow flowers swaying the breeze. Along the trail a catbird, cardinal, and hummingbird appeared as quickly as they disappeared. And rustling beneath the leaves were several garter snakes squirming down the slope of a hill.
Take notice of the sights and sounds around you as you walk around the lake, through the prairie, and into the woods. You never know what you might find.
To learn more about the features and history of Indian Lake County Park, check out this insightful blog post by Bill Lunney, Chair of the Friends of Dane County Parks and of the Dane County Parks Commission.