Marsh Lake Complex
Marsh Lake Complex Preserve in Steuben County © Christopher Jordan/TNC

Places We Protect

Marsh Lake Complex

Indiana

Glaciers from long ago have given this vast complex its unique characteristics.

Why You Should Visit 

Glacial basin lakes surrounded by extensive wetlands can be found at the Marsh Lake Complex in Steuben County which is made up of the Marsh Lake Conservation Area, the Seven Sisters Lake Complex, Wing Haven Nature Preserve, and several state-dedicated nature preserves. Plant communities are varied and include shrub swamp, forested fen and swamps, marsh and dry upland forest. Much is to be seen at this complex, including the 849- acre Marsh Lake, one of the last remaining undeveloped lakes in Steuben County. 

Marsh Lake Complex is owned and managed by Indiana's Department of Natural Resources (Marsh Lake) and ACRES, Inc. (Wing Haven & Seven Sisters). Work done here is in partnership with the Indiana Heritage Trust.

What to See: Plants and Animals

Plant communities include shrub swamp, forested fen, forested swamp, marsh areas, dry-mesic upland forest amongst the wetlands and glacial basin lakes. An extensive boreal-relict stand of tamaracks and yellow birches can also be found with an understory comprised of dwarf birch, Canada mayflower, and starflower. White and small yellow lady's-slipper, showy lady's-slipper orchids, and the Massasauga rattlesnake all find refuge in the fens, swamps, sedge meadows and wetlands bordering Marsh Lake. More commonly seen species include skunk cabbage, marsh marigold, red maple, and red-osier dogwood.

Seven Sisters Lake is comprised of seven kettle lakes connected by thin bands of emergent and sedge meadow vegetation communities. Surrounded by steeply sloped hills, this lake-filled valley forms one of the headwaters of the Lake Michigan watershed.

Cattails and bulrush marshes abound the edge of Marsh Lake. The almost 850-acre lake receives what Seven Sisters and other headwaters dish out. A variety of wetland communities thrive in the water-soaked, muck soils bordering the lake.

A little wetland depression, hillside prairie, and parts of the kettle lakes lie within the boundaries of three separate parcels of land collectively known as Wing Haven Nature Preserve. This preserve is owned and managed by the Fort Wayne-based land trust known as ACRES. The Marsh Lake Wetland Conservation Area and Nature Preserve are held in trust for the folks of Indiana by the Division of Fish and Division of Nature Preserves.

The often wet terrain has no existing trails to hike, but boating and canoeing are available. Hunting is also allowed on the preserve; please dress accordingly. 

For More Information

ACRES Land Trust