- Natural areas
- Contact information
- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Mud Lake (No. 125)
Within the Mud Lake Wildlife Area, Door County. T30N-R28E, Sections 3-6, 8. T31N-R28E, Sections 28, 29, 33, 34. 2,555 acres.
Mud Lake State Natural Area consists of a 155-acre shallow (maximum depth 5 feet) drainage lake surrounded by an extensive shrub and timber swamp. The lake has a truly wild character to it. The bottom is predominantly marl, although dolomite bedrock is exposed in some areas. Many old snags along the shoreline attest to water levels that fluctuate with seasonal precipitation. Aquatic plants are most diverse in the outlet stream (Reibolts Creek) and include bur-reed, coon’s-tail, pondweed, and wild rice. In the lake, soft-stem bul-rush, yellow water-lily, common reed, and cat-tail is found. Immediately surrounding the open water is a narrow zone of shrubby northern sedge meadow dominated by sedges, willows, dogwoods, and sweet gale. The wetlands and lake provide habitat for the federally-endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana). The open zone grades into second-growth wet-mesic forest of white cedar, white spruce, balsam fir, and black ash. Reibolts Creek, which runs from Mud Lake to Lake Michigan, has been stocked with trout and supports a trout spawning run. Waterfowl use of the lake is occasionally heavy. Nesting birds include pied-billed grebe, American bittern, common golden eye, mallard, pintail, blue-winged teal, wood duck, and Virginia rail. Mud Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1975.
From Baileys Harbor, go north on State Highway 57 0.75 miles, then east on County Highway Q 2.5 miles to Sunset Drive, then north 1.2 miles to Birch Road, then west to Mud Lake.
Mud Lake is owned by:
- The Nature Conservancy
The DNR's state natural areas program is comprised of lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions and private individuals. While the majority of SNAs are open to the public, access may vary according to individual ownership policies. Public use restrictions may apply due to public safety, or to protect endangered or threatened species or unique natural features. Lands may be temporarily closed due to specific management activities. Users are encouraged to contact the landowner for more specific details.
The data shown on these maps have been obtained from various sources, and are of varying age, reliability, and resolution. The data may contain errors or omissions and should not be interpreted as a legal representation of legal ownership boundaries.
Manage the site as a reserve for northern wet-mesic forest and sedge meadow, as an aquatic, wetland and estuarine reserve, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the forest and aquatic communities. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native northern wet-mesic forests.
The native species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the site. Exceptions include control of invasive plants and animals, maintenance of existing facilities, and access to suppress fires. Salvage of trees after a major wind event is not considered compatible with management objectives.
- A Town of Ephraim snowmobile trail traverses the uplands and a few wetland crossings near County Highway Q. Although removal of hazardous trees from over and near state-approved snowmobile trails is an allowed activity, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance must be minimized, and must have no impact on the rare species found at the site.
Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for a variety of recreational activities as indicated below. Generally, there are no picnic areas, restrooms, or other developments. Parking lots or designated parking areas are noted on individual SNA pages and maps. Trails, if present, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map and/or under the "Access" tab. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.
Hunting and trapping
This SNA has multiple landowners: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the land owner. In general, most DNR-owned land allows hunting and trapping. Partner-owned land may have other rules (for example, university-owned lands do not allow hunting or trapping). Please contact them directly to find out about their rules for hunting and trapping. You can find a link to other owner websites under the "Resource links" heading above. More details regarding allowable uses on the non-DNR land may be found under the "Access" tab above, if available.
Allowable activities: DNR-owned land
In general, the activities listed below are allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted under the "Access" tab above and posted with signs on site.
- Cross country skiing
Prohibited activities: all SNAs
- Horseback riding
- Rock climbing
- Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use
- Collecting of animals, non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material, alive or dead. Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
- Collecting of plants including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
- Camping and campfires
For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]