Northwest Indiana Birding Opportunities - Spicer Lake Nature Preserve

Located in the extreme northwest corner of St. Joseph County, along the state line, Spicer Lake Nature Preserve offers diverse habitats in which to find birds year-round.

Spicer Lake Nature Preserve Birding Trail


This county park, 320 acres in size, is an IDNR state dedicated nature preserve. The property consists of old fields, young and mature forests, wetlands, and two small ‘kettle-hole’ lakes (Spicer and Lancaster Lakes). Though much of the park is swampland and accessible only to wildlife, there are over 6 miles of hiking trails and a quarter-mile boardwalk that leads to Spicer Lake.

The boardwalk, accessed by a trail behind the visitor center, is a great place to see a variety of bird species, including warblers during migration and woodpeckers throughout the year. Rusty Blackbirds can occasionally be seen in fall. Both Spicer and Lancaster Lakes have observation platforms from which wildlife can be observed, though Lancaster Lake offers a better opportunity to see fish-eating birds such as Belted Kingfishers and Pied-billed Grebes. The woodlands host traditional nesting neotropical birds such as Eastern Wood-pewees, Wood Thrushes, and Scarlet Tanagers.

The Old Field Trail offers a space to observe sparrows and other non-interior forest species. From the Old Field Trail, take the Lancaster Lake Trail to enter a mature forest, where you’ll find a different community of birds on your way to the lake.

eBird Hotspot Link:

Total Birding Time:
2 to 3 hours.

Best Times to Bird: 
Spicer Lake Nature Preserve is a four-season birding site, with spring and fall best suited for migrants.


50840 County Line Road, New Carlisle, Indiana 46552.
Directions: From the intersection of County Line Road and US 20, take County Line Road 3.4 miles north. The entrance to Spicer Lake Nature Preserve will be on the right.
Hours: Park hours vary seasonally. The gates are open by 8 am on weekday mornings and by 11 am on weekends and holidays. Check the website or park gate for seasonal closing times. Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and holidays in January and February. 
Ownership: St. Joseph County Parks
Admission: No Fee
Parking: Paved lot 
Nearby Amenities: Restrooms are available at the visitor center. There is a gazebo with picnic tables near the parking lot. The town of New Carlisle has a few restaurants within 5 miles of the park. South Bend and LaPorte are the nearest locations for major hotels.
Accessibility: There is a paved trail to the boardwalk leading to Spicer Lake. Other trails are soft surface.
Phone Number:
(574) 277-4828

Written by: Dustin Brewer
Photo by: St. Joseph County Parks