Many visitors to Pickerel Lake stay on the two-mile Lake Trail
without knowing what unexplored, unique trails lay beyond the lake. This loop hike combines a handful of trails through the forests and marshes around the lake with the popular sections of the elevated lakeside boardwalk to provide a sample of each trail type and environment.
Given the amount of water through this area, numerous bird species can be seen as well as other local wildlife. This can also mean bugs in the warmer months.
This loop heads in the clockwise direction in order to follow the one-way section of the Lake Trail
on the east side. Of course, this route can be shortened to accommodate time or ability. An obvious section to bypass is the Sandy Knoll Trail
by continuing west onto the Woodland Trail
, cutting off just over a mile in length.
No dogs or wheeled mechanisms. Eastern portion of the Lake Trail
is one-way, going clockwise. Open to cross-country skiing in the winter. Restrooms closed except for a port-a-potty in the offseason.
Start at the main parking area off Ramsdell Road NE and head west on the Lake Trail
toward the first elevated boardwalk section. These boardwalks are popular spots for anglers and photographers who don't have to worry about trees and shrubs that might otherwise get in the way from the shoreline.
At the end of this stretch, there is a bathroom, which is closed in the offseason.
Continue into the woods as the Lake Trail
bends to the left (southwest) toward the entrance for the Sandy Knoll Trail
, which winds through the Larch Swamp area with the short spur of the Larch Swamp Trail
. Back at the lollipop stem of the Sandy Knoll Trail
, use the Woodland Branch Trail
to continue north toward the Woodland Trail
, with the first sustained hill climb of the hike and the high point of the loop just before the two-mile mark.
Along the Woodland Trail
, you'll pass three trail entrances, each to the left; the first is a Woodland Branch Trail that heads to the boundary of the preserve and Sunfish Lake Road, the second and third are the entrance/exit of the Highland Trail loop, which adds a half-mile loop for visitors looking for even more mileage.
Just before the 2.5-mile mark, the Woodland Trail
will rejoin the Lake Trail
for some lakeshore travel before the final one-way section through the vibrant marshes of Pickerel Lake before returning to the main parking area.
Songbirds, waterfowl, beavers, deer, muskrats.