The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says there are more than 15,000 lakes in our fair state (side-eyeing you, Minnesota). Though it might be a fun project, it’s nigh on impossible to have visited them all. A few of these lakes might be well known to the folks around them, but Wisconsinite further away aren’t yet turned on to their charms.
There are obviously plenty to choose from, but here are 15 lakes we don’t think get enough love or attention:
1. Fox Lake - Fox Lake
Over in Dodge County, Fox Lake is more than 2,700 acres, but the town has just 1,500 hundred people in it, making this lake a bit of a hidden gem. A great fishing lake in summer and winter, this lake is one far too many people overlook.
2. Bone Lake - Bone Lake
Up in Polk County, this lake is interestingly named for the remains of Native Americans that were found on one of its islands. There's a ton of wildlife, from fish to birds, that call this area home and it's a nice, quiet area in the northwest part of the state.
3. Butternut Lake - Three Lakes
Combined with the next lake on the list, forms a State Natural Area way up north, almost to the UP. The site is more than 1000 acres and includes great trails, tons of unique flora and great birding.
4. Franklin Lake - Three Lakes
Combined with Butternut Lakes in a State Natural Area that is one of the most untouched and undeveloped lake areas in the state. Walk through 400 year old hemlock and pine forests and watch for all kinds of wildlife.
5. Sohlberg Silver Lake - Friendship
Another State Natural Area, this lake is constantly in flux due to the water table. It sits in the footprint of the now extinct Glacial Lake Wisconsin.
6. Lake Delavan - Delavan
Everyone flocks to nearby Lake Geneva, leaving this great fishing lake a lot less crowded. The muskie are plentiful or you can chill on the public beach. Either way, it's like the forgotten little sister of Walworth County.
7. Moose Lake - Merton
A small lake nestled between bigger Okauchee and Pine Lakes, it used to be home to a big resort and a major party lake, but now is the much quieter destination in Lake Country. Once called Mouse Lake, the area residents lobbied to have the name changed. It also used to be used to harvest ice - a lake with a lot of history!
8. Luna Lake - Three Lakes
If large Butternut and Farnklin Lakes are overlooked, then much smaller nearby Luna Lake is a true hidden gem.
9. Lake Petenwell - Strongs Prairie
A man-made lake that was created by a dam on the Wisconsin River, this large lake is just north of Castle Rock State Natural Area and gets a lot less attention than the similar lake there. Recent efforts to improve water quality have made this a great place to visit.
10. Lake Wingra - Madison
Most folks are aware of those two big lake that form Madison's isthmus, but located just off the west end of that strip of land, by the Vilas Zoo and UW Arboretum, Lake Wingra is the much smaller, but still awesome Madison lake. Less busy, more manageable and with tons of gorgeous trails, this place is well known to locals, but not so much to anyone who doesn't spend a lot of time in Madison.
11. Pike Lake - Fifield
This is the Pike Lake way up north that is tucked in with a ton of state natural areas. It's truly gorgeous and often overlooked.
12. Bohner's Lake - Burlington
Located just south of Burlington, in Racine County, this lake is quiet and residential and a perfect little jaunt away from the city.
13. Kelly Lake - Hickory Corners
Far enough north to feel like you've escaped, but a little less of a drive than far northwoods, this lake just northwest of Green Bay is a perfect fishing and relaxing getaway lake, with awesome clarity and great fishing.
14. Allequash Lake
Vilas County has more lakes than we can count, but Allequash Lake is tucked between two much larger and more popular lakes and is in it's own State Natural Area, keeping it protected and also a lot less populated.
15. Lost Land Lake - Sawyer
One of Sawyer County's Quiet Lakes, Lost Land Lake has a strict 10 mph speed limit, keeping noise down and the serenity of the lake up. The slow boats mean a much more developed undersea plant community, which makes for great fishing.