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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Tula Lake (No. 174)

Tula Lake

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner



Within the McKenzie Creek Wildlife Area, Polk County. T36N-R16W, Section 2. 160 acres.



Situated within a wilderness setting, Tula Lake is an undisturbed 15-acre bog lake surrounded by open bog and an extensive northern wet forest. Encircling the open water is a bog mat of blueberry, cranberry, sundew, pitcher plant, sedges, cotton grass, and sphagnum moss. A wet forest of tamarack and black spruce, with occasional white spruce and balsam fir surrounds the lake and bog. Typical understory plants include leather-leaf, Labrador-tea, bogbean and grass pink. The surrounding upland dry-mesic forest of red oak, aspen, and white pine is recovering from past logging and fire. As a freeze-out lake there is essentially no fishery but the lake is used migrating waterfowl including common loons. An especially high number of mammals use the area including white-tailed deer, black bear, otter, mink, muskrat, coyote, red fox, snowshoe hare, bobcat, and fisher. Tula Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1982.


Driving directions

From the intersection of State Highway 35 and County Highway W in Frederic, go east on W 7.8 miles to a parking area south of the road. Walk south on an access trail 0.3 miles to Margaret Lake (itself, a designated Wild Lake), then walk off-trail southwest 0.4 mile to Tula Lake.


Tula Lake is owned by:

  • WDNR


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.


Site objectives

Manage the site as an aquatic reserve, a northern dry-mesic and wet forest reserve, a wetland protection site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the forest, the lake and the bog. In addition, prescribed forest management will help determine the structure of the dry-mesic forest. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native northern dry-mesic and wet forests.

Management approach

In the northern dry-mesic forest, the native dominant tree species (primarily pines and oaks) are managed passively. However, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. The mostly passive canopy management and understory manipulation will determine the ecological characteristics of the dry-mesic forest. In all other areas, the native species are managed passively, allowing nature to determine their ecological characteristics. Across the entire site, allowable activities 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.


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.

Allowable activities

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.

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping

Prohibited activities

  • Camping and campfires
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), 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
  • Geocaching
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]

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Last revised: Friday, October 26, 2018