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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Pickerel Lake (No. 227)

Pickerel Lake

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer



Portage County. T21N-R10E, Section 5-8. 143 acres.



Pickerel Lake is a hard water seepage lake with a fluctuating shoreline and a sand bottom that gently slopes to the center. The water flux has limited the lake’s value as a fishery due to severe winter kills during periods of low water. In summer, oxygen depletion and corresponding fish kills are not uncommon due to dense blooms of algae. While the fluctuating water inhibits the fishery, it provides ideal conditions for some specialized plants by flooding out competing plants and killing trees when water is high and providing habitat when water is low. The lower beach contains mostly mats of needle spike-rush and slender flat sedge. The middle beach has semi-open vegetation with boneset, Kalm’s lobelia, heart’s-ease, silver-weed, common false foxglove, and eastern willow-herb. The surrounding upland is wooded with oaks of varying sizes and ages. Scattered throughout the oaks are small patches with prairie species, indicating this area was once a savanna. Pickerel Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1990.


Driving directions

From the intersection of County Highways A, J, and D in the city of Almond in south central Portage County, go east on County D 4.5 miles, then turn north on D 4 miles to an access road which is next to a town hall.


Pickerel 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 a reserve for inland beach, oak barrens, and Fassett's locoweed, and as an aquatic reserve. Natural processes will determine the structure of the natural communities, along with prescribed understory manipulation (see below) in the oak barrens. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native ecosystems.

Management approach

The native aquatic species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the lake. In the oak barrens, the native dominant tree species (primarily oaks) are managed actively. Canopy thinning, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Water quality BMPs will be followed during upland management operations. 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

  • The pine plantation will be thinned and harvested, and gradually develop into a more naturally appearing pine stand.
  • The 10-acre old field will be planted to sand prairie species.
  • Shoreline trampling of Fassett’s locoweed is undoubtedly occurring at low levels, but appears not to be a serious problem at this time. Continued monitoring of locoweed populations needs to be in place to assess threat.


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