Typically when you roll into Shipshewana, you’re greeted by endless farms and open fields. It might be surprising to hear of the beautiful fall foliage that can be seen this time of year. The natural beauty here in LaGrange County can often be underappreciated, many people not knowing about hidden gems like the Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area or our many lakes. Follow this scenic fall drive in Shipshewana/LaGrange County and you’ll “fall” in love.
Beginning in downtown Shipshewana, the Amish community is always decorated beautifully for the fall season. Following the route, the scenery quickly turns to the countryside. You’ll travel past many Amish homes and farms in an area that used to be a tall-grass prairie. Large oak trees that formerly bordered the open land are still standing tall. As you continue to wind around the back-roads and end up on 400N, you’ll pass by LaGrange County’s largest Sycamore tree on the north side of the road, and an Osprey nest to the south. Eventually, the road will lead to SR 120, taking you straight through the Stark Nature Preserve. If you have time, stop to walk the trails that beautifully highlight the changing season.
All roads lead somewhere, right? SR 120 takes you through the historic town of Howe. If you’re in the mood for a bite to eat, visit Ianerelli’s for an authentic Italian dish made just like the owner’s grandmother used to. After you pass through town and travel by some open farmland, you’ll come upon Pine Knob Park which is 229 acres of oaks, pines, soft maples, and wetland.
Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area
Just past the park, you’ll enter into LaGrange County’s biggest hidden treasure. This breath-taking 11,794 acres of land is covered with native trees, lakes and a flowing river is known as the Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area. You’ll notice how dense the trees are while driving down the narrow, leaf covered roads. Eventually, the scenery opens up to Troxel Lake. You’ll be guided out and back into the wildlife area before coming across Curtis Creek Trout Rearing Station. Stop by to learn about the process of rearing before the trout are released into the Pigeon River. Continuing on the route, you’ll cross a bridge over Ontario Millpond. Pull over and enjoy the view of changing leaves in the reflection of the calm water. Past the bridge, you’ll continue to travel through the dense wildlife area, full of fall foliage from the oak, sugar maples and pines.
After the area opens up to wetlands, the route will take you across US 20. If you’re in the mood for some walking, make a detour to visit Maple Wood Nature Center. The trails run through endless maple trees that produce some of the best syrup money can buy. As you continue on, you’ll enter into the big lakes area of the county; first traveling by Fish and Royer Lakes. The scenery will open up to fields, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch the last of the crops being harvested. After the road splits off, the directions will guide you around Adams Lake on your right, and Cook’s Bison Ranch on the left. The ranch is huge, and if you time it just right you can catch a tour as you’re traveling through.
If you’re still on the route, you’ll enter into the Indian Lakes Chain, first curving around Witmer and Westler Lakes. Dallas Lake Park will be on your right if you want to step out on the beach for a view of the water. If you’re hungry, take a seat at the Coppertop Tavern for what’s been voted the best burger in LaGrange County. Continuing on, you’ll be lead on a road that travels between Messick, Hackenburg and Dallas Lakes. Adding to the list of detours, David Rogers Memorial Park is another historical stop. The park is home to authentic pioneer log homes that have been relocated to the park.
The landscape opens up to miles of Amish farms and open countryside. The fields in this area formerly raised mint, a scent that could be smelled for miles surrounding the farms. The road leads to a 4-way stop, home to the little community of Emma. Nearing the end of the route, you’ll be guided by Yoder Popcorn, but don’t pass by without grabbing a free bag of popcorn to snack on. Eventually, you’ll turn on SR 5 and be taken back into Shipshewana. If you haven’t seen enough of the fall colors, continue on and make your own route. Or, take a rest at one of Shipshewana’s lodging options.
It may help to have the directions, so click the link below to download the directions and map. This scenic drive also presents tons of photo-ops, so make sure to use #VisitShipshewana when you’re posting them, we want to see them too! Also, sign up below for our monthly newsletter that highlights great ideas like this fall drive, events, stories, and anything else you need to know about Shipshewana/LaGrange County.
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