Access: open to the public
Acquisition: Donated by Tom and Lisa Gross, 2000
Trails: 1.5 miles of moderate to difficult blazed trails in wetland and upland habitats.
Follow M-43 north out of the city of Hastings. Turn west onto Indian Hills Drive. Turn north on Country Club Drive and look for the preserve sign at the intersection of Lakeside Drive and Country Club Drive. Park along the side of the road on Lakeside Drive.
The preserve contains sedge meadow, cattail marsh, swamp forest, oak forest, oak openings, beech maple forest, and fen along the shores of Carter Lake. Most of the habitats are in good condition. Listed species known from the preserve include Eastern box turtle, bald eagle, and false boneset. Other rare species include showy lady’s slipper and spotted wintergreen.
Located on the northern shore of the lake that lends the preserve its name, Carter Lake Preserve is a wonderfully wild area just outside the city of Hastings. A variety of habitats, including marsh, fen, oak woodland, and savanna, provide an abundance of food and shelter for wildlife. Visitors regularly find wild turkey, deer, turtles, and even an occasional ruffed grouse or bald eagle.
Woodland wildflowers such as hepatica, wood anemone, and pink lady’s slipper can be found in the spring, while summer provides opportunities to observe sandhill cranes nesting in the wetland with a variety of frogs calling from throughout the property. In the fall, the colors can be spectacular, particularly in the wet meadow, with the brilliant crimson leaves of poison sumac and tall purple stands of asters and joe pye weed.
Near the entrance of the preserve, a steep bank down into the wetland offers a scenic overlook of the eastern shore of Carter Lake and the surrounding marshes. Visitors should be prepared for possible wet feet — to reach the upland portion of the preserve, you must follow the trail down steep stairs and through a wet meadow of wildflowers and grasses as well as cattails and willows. A bridge built by an Eagle Scout provides access over a stream; however, in times of high water, the trail may be flooded.