“A wide trail network providing visitors with open fields, wooded forests, and lake views.”
— DD Avey
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Elizabethtown Nature Park and Freeman Lake Park have seasonal hours.
This route provides both hikers and runners access to open and improved trails that navigate between fields, mazes of forest, and direct access to Freeman Lake. Ample shade in several parts give users a break from summer sun on those hot days. Along the way, users see the Elizabethtown/Hardin County Veterans Memorial, peruse Freeman Lake Park, cross the Freeman Lake dam, and can even stop for a quick rest at the dog park to watch the pups play.
Need to Know
Be aware of a small creek crossing within the first 1/4 mile of the route. The way can be very muddy if used immediately after a hard rain or melting snow. There are no water points available during the winter (faucets are turned off). Water points do exist at the Nature Park and within Freeman Lake Park. Restrooms are only available at the Nature Park, causeway area, and within Freeman Lake park. Porta-potties are available too, but bring your own tissue.
Start at the Elizabethtown Nature Park and Veteran Memorial. About a tenth of a mile into the loop you'll cross a little stream that is either very shallow or has a few raised cement blocks to help you cross. This is the only water crossing like this (and you can bypass if you'd like). The rest have bridges.
Once on the go, you'll transit open fields and a few stands of trees for the first 2 miles. This is also the hilliest part, with handful of short ups and downs until you come to the paved trail that takes you under Ring Road. Once under Ring Road (about 2.5 miles) you need to go to the left of the Freeman Lake causeway area where you may see hundreds of waterfowl hanging on the shore in addition to the people fishing. This is also a great area to take a quick break to catch a very nice breeze off the lake.
As you transit the back side of the lake (east side) the trail will become a little dicey (2.5-3.5 mile marks) with some area of moderate to significant erosion. Those with strollers may need to move off the trail onto the grassy area. Once through this section the trail meanders along the shore of Freeman Lake for the next several miles.
Around the 4.5 mile point you'll near the Freeman Lake dam where you'll again see a mix of waterfowl and other visitors fishing. This is also another great place to take in a cool breeze. After the dam you'll eventually enter Freeman Lake Park (5.5 mi) along the western shoreline. The park will provide you with a mile or so of paved road (or you can transit via the ample grass fields) and interesting stops (boat launch area, 1800s era homestead house, band pavilion, and a dog park).
Once through the park you'll cross the causeway area, go back under Ring Road, and sprint to the end. A very enjoyable route that has something for everyone.
Flora & Fauna
Birds, squirrel, waterfowl, deer, and butterflies all call the lake area home. Spring trees like Rosebud, Dogwood, Bradford Pear, and others provide color. Fall is beautiful with mix of Maples, Oaks, and others.
History & Background
Keep an eye out for the 1800s era homestead house at Freeman Lake. There are also old abandon grain silos on the northwest side of lake that the route passes by.