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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Pope Lake (No. 194)

Pope Lake

Photo by Zachary Burington



Within Hartman Creek State Park, Waupaca County. T21N-R11E, Section 5 N½. 54 acres.



Pope Lake is a 14-acre undeveloped lake with a diversity of aquatic vegetation. It is the only undeveloped water body in the heavily developed Chain-o-Lakes. The marl-bottomed hard water lake has a maximum depth of 40 feet and contains chara, spatterdock, wild celery, and a good variety of pondweeds. Most of the adjacent wetlands are a northern wet forest of tamarack, poison sumac, and winterberry, but alder thicket is also found along the channels and the lake shore. Several upland islands support a northern dry-mesic forest of white pine and white and red oaks. Common bird species found near the lake are green-backed heron, great blue heron, sora, great crested flycatcher, eastern wood peewee, black capped chickadee, and American goldfinch. Pope Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1984.


Driving directions

From the junction of Highways 10 and 54 in Waupaca, go west on 54 4.5 miles, then south on Hartman Creek Road to the State Park office and get a park map. The best access is via the hiking trail from the Hartman Lake beach parking lot. A STATE PARK STICKER IS REQUIRED.


Pope 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 and wetland reserve, an oak savanna restoration site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the aquatic and wetland communities, along with prescribed vegetation manipulation in the wetlands and uplands. Also, provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native ecosystems.

Management approach

The lake and associated wetlands are managed passively, which allows nature to determine their ecological characteristics. The forested uplands will be restored to oak savanna to allow the long-term survival of savanna plants that have managed to persist there. The native dominant savanna tree species (primarily oaks) are managed passively. However, some thinning of the canopy, 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 forested uplands. Water quality BMPs will be followed during savanna restoration activities. Other allowable activities throughout the site include control of invasive plants and animals, maintenance of existing facilities, salvage of timber after storms, and access to suppress wildfires.

Site-specific considerations

  • Although removal of hazardous trees from over and near trails is an allowed activity, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance should be minimized to the extent possible.
  • The trail and bridge are designated use areas and they need to be maintained to standards.


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: Thursday, October 11, 2018