Cecil M. Harden Lake, Indiana, USA

Also known as:  Raccoon Lake

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Cecil M. Harden Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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All About Cecil M. Harden Lake

Lake Locations: USA - US Midwest Region - Indiana - West Indiana -

Located in west central Indiana, the Cecil M. Harden Lake is a naturalist’s delight and lies largely in Parke County and extends into Putnam County. Rich rolling farmland and forest filled with maple, walnut, oak and hickory greet lake visitors as they drive though Parke County en route to Cecil M. Harden Lake. Wildflowers, nuts, berries, and mushrooms dot the wooded areas around the lake adding color throughout the seasons. Although a very beautiful area, Parke County is best known as the “Covered Bridge Capital of America.” J.J. Daniels and J.A. Brittin, two master covered bridge builders, lived in Parke County where they built their works of art. Now there are a total of 35 covered bridges dotting the countryside that date back to 1865 through 1921.

Cecil M. Harden Reservoir is also known as Raccoon Lake, was formerly called Mansfield Lake. The lake was renamed in 1974 by a bill signed into Law by President Gerald R. Ford. President Ford waned to recognize Mrs. Cecil Murray Harden for her role in raising money for the project as well as her active involvement serving her community. Designed, built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with cooperative management effort with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Cecil M. Harden Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 to reduce flooding while providing recreation and wildlife and fish enhancement. Completed in 1960, Cecil M. Harden Lake now provides many leisure and sport activities for the nature enthusiast.

The Raccoon State Recreation Area (SRA) located on the shores of Cecil M. Harden Lake has so much to offer. Visitors can enjoy hiking several nature trails that meander through lush forest and then rest by the blazing campfires as they turn in for the night at one of the many campsites. Campsites include electric, non electric and primitive sites as well as a camp store and dumping areas. The Raccoon SRA also offers an archery range, boat ramps, horseshoe pits, picnic areas and group shelters, a swimming beach, boat rentals, and volleyball courts. The Raccoon State Recreation Area is also home the historic 1890 Mansfield Roller Mill. Visitors can tour the flour mill seasonally as well as watch corn grinding demonstrations.

Fishing is a popular pastime on Cecil M. Harden Lake. Anglers with a state license will enjoy casting their line in for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, striped bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie and walleye. Trout fishing is also available in season in the tail water area. Although more limited than anglers, hunters many enjoy hunting opportunities for waterfowl and upland game in designated area. Hunters must sign in and return a hunting permit card to the sign-in station upon their departure. Wildlife viewing, however, is welcomed everywhere.

In October Parke County holds an annual nine-day Covered Bridge Festival. The vibrant fall colors bring people from all over to enjoy the festivities as well as the spender of Cecil M. Harden Lake. Fiery reds, bright oranges and brilliant yellows fill the surrounding forest making camping even more delightful.

Vacationing at Cecil M. Harden Lake does not have to be a once a year event. Lake front homes can be purchased or rented to those who enjoy scenic views from large bay windows while staying warm and cozy by a crackling fire. Vacation rentals can also be found in nearby Indianapolis for those who like an occasional visit to the lake while taking pleasure in the hustle and bustle of city life. A luxurious furnished condo in downtown Indianapolis will allow close access to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as a short drive to the peaceful Cecil M. Harden Lake.

Whether it is the vivid colors of fall that bring lake visits out to Cecil M. Harden Lake or the calm and refreshing waters, everyone will certainly be pleased. Some visitors may even decide to call Cecil M. Harden home. Whatever it is that brings people to the lake, Cecil M. Harden has what it takes to be a repeated vacation.

Things to Do at Cecil M. Harden Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing

Fish Species Found at Cecil M. Harden Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Find Places to Stay at Cecil M. Harden Lake

If you’re considering a Cecil M. Harden Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Cecil M. Harden Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Cecil M. Harden Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Cecil M. Harden Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 2,110 acres

Shoreline Length: 35 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 662 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 640 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 690 feet

Maximum Depth: 62 feet

Water Volume: 49,262 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1960

Drainage Area: 216 sq. miles

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