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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Lost Lake (No. 198)

Lost Lake

Photo by E. Epstein



Columbia County. T12N-R8E, Section 34. 169 acres.



Lost Lake is a small kettle-type depression in ground moraine deposits overlying the eastern end of the Baraboo Range. This deep, circular hard water lake is perched near the upper end of a ravine about 0.2 mile wide and 0.5 mile long and drains to the northwest. Large quartzite boulders and exposures of quartzite conglomerate and layers of sandstone cover the north-facing slope. This area harbors a shaded cliff community with numerous ferns and mountain maple. The bottom of the hollow supports a well-established lowland forest with yellow birch, black ash, green ash, hackberry, American elm, and poison sumac. On the slopes, the forest grades into red oak, basswood, yellow birch, hackberry, and white ash with white oak predominant further upslope. Surrounding the 2-acre lake is a zone of swamp loosestrife and a large alder thicket. Historically, the lake ice was in local demand due to its unusual density and clarity. . Invertebrate life is abundant throughout the lake. Lost Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1985.


Driving directions

From the intersection of I-90/94 and State Highway 78 west of Portage, go west on Highway 78 2 miles, then north on Beich Road one mile to a DNR parking area west of the road. Walk west into the natural area.


Lost 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.


Management objectives and prescriptions


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: Monday, June 10, 2019