Cecil M. Harden Lake, Indiana, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Indiana - West -

Also known as:  Raccoon Lake

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

Cecil M. Harden Lake Photo Gallery

    Cecil M. Harden Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    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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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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