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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Red Cedar Lake (No. 215)

Red Cedar Lake

Photo by Thomas Meyer



Jefferson County. T6N-R13E, Sections 17, 20, 21. 452 acres.



Red Cedar Lake is a large, relatively undisturbed shallow lake containing an abundance of submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation. The irregularly shaped 370-acre hard water seepage lake is located in a marshy pocket of the terminal moraine. Although it has a maximum depth of six feet, 90% of the lake is less than three feet deep. The lake and extensive surrounding wetlands have a diverse submerged and emergent aquatic flora providing excellent habitat for numerous species of waterfowl and marsh birds. Plant species include watershield, pickerelweed, whorled water milfoil and common bladderwort. Cat-tails and soft-stem bulrush dominate the surrounding wetlands. Waterfowl use is extensive with an average of 60 breeding pairs of nine species. Numerous marsh birds also nest here including some uncommon species: yellow-headed blackbird, American bittern, least bittern, great blue heron, green heron, and coots. Red Cedar Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1984.


Driving directions

From the intersection of U.S. Highways 12 and 18 in Cambridge, go east on 12 3.2 miles, then south on Brosig Lane 0.1 miles to a parking area and boat launch. The lake is best seen by canoe or kayak. Follow the dredged channel south into the eastern lobe of the lake. Be advised that aquatic growth can be quite thick on the lake's surface, making navigation back to the channel challenging. Please take note of the exit location before venturing out, or use a GPS unit.


Red Cedar 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.


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