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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Hook Lake Bog (No. 242)

Hook Lake Bog

Photo by R. Staffen



Dane County. T6N-R8E, Section 28, 29, 32. 527 acres.



Hook Lake Bog ranks as one of the highest quality wetlands in Dane County. It is a soft bog lake, which is unusual for southern Wisconsin. The lake, located in a glacial pocket, is nearly extinct with only 50-70 acres of open water remaining. The rest is covered by a floating sedge mat and emergent aquatic vegetation with tamarack swamp forest, open bog, and southern sedge meadow communities. The bog mat harbors plant species that are rare in Dane County including the insectivorous round-leaved sundew, seven-angled pipewort, and bogbean. Other Dane County rarities are pickerel weed, watershield, leather-leaf, and large-fruited star sedge. The tamarack swamp contains paper birch, cranberry, and spinulose wood fern and a dense ring of bog birch surrounds the tamaracks with cotton grass. Other species include steeplebush, buttonbush, American woolly-fruit sedge, rushes, and spike-rush. A cat-tail dominated moat with water plantain, swamp loosestrife, wool-grass, and arrowhead surrounds the bog. An upland island of dry-mesic forest is also present and is rich with spring wildflowers such as Dutchman’s-breeches and bloodroot. The natural area also contains restored prairie and oak savanna along the western edge of the lake. The diversity and structure of the vegetation offers a variety of habitat and cover for wildlife, including open water, reed beds, sedge, cat-tails, shrub, deciduous and coniferous forest areas. Nesting birds include common snipe, woodcock, sora rail, green heron, wood duck, and pied-billed grebe. Great blue herons also use the area for foraging. Hook Lake Bog is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1991.


Driving directions

From the junction of Highways 14 and 138 in Oregon, go east on 138 1.8 miles, then north on Sunrise Road 0.85 miles, then east on Rutland Dunn Town Line Road 0.3 mile, then north on McManus Road 0.1 mile to a small parking area. Walk north 1 mile into the site. Though challenging, there is an unmarked walk-in canoe/kayak access to the water. From the intersection of Sunrise and Rutland Dunn Town Line Road (as described above), go west on Rutland Dunn Town Line Road 0.6 miles and park along the roadside between residences at 4360 and 4382. This is just west of a power line that runs north/south over the road. Carry your boat due north through the old field about 300’ to the bog’s edge. Paddle west to get to open water. This may require pulling your boat over some short patches of bog. Areas of thick water lilies in summer may also make paddling difficult. Look at an air photo of the site before venturing onto the water.


Hook Lake Bog 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 bog relict, as an oak opening restoration site, as an aquatic reserve and wetland protection site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the wetlands. Prescribed understory manipulation (see below) will determine the structure of the oak opening. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native patterned peatland, northern forested wetlands, and bog lakes.

Management approach

The native bog and wetland species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the site. The native dominant savanna tree species (primarily oaks) form the basis for an oak savanna restoration. Some thinning of the canopy, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Augmentation of the ground layer will only add species that historically would have been found on the site, using seeds or plugs from local genetic material; this usually occurs in the early stages of savanna restoration. The old field will be planted with native mesic prairie species. Other management activities employed across the entire site 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.

Site-specific considerations

  • Roadside easement area may be managed sporadically by township and county.
  • Parking areas and access trails are maintained to Department standards. This includes removal of windfalls and hazard trees over the trail, and mowing. Soil disturbance is not permitted during any maintenance operations.


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