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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Flat Lake (No. 519)

Flat Lake

Photo by Josh Mayer



Within Douglas County Forest, Douglas County. T44N-R11W, Sections 3, 4. 94 acres.



Flat Lake is a shallow, 65-acre soft-water seepage lake with a fluctuating shoreline and a lush emergent and submergent marsh community. These types of shallow lakes without a fishery are excellent sites for the study of diverse aquatic invertebrates and plant populations. Sedges and rushes dominate the emergent vegetation. Other lake flora include water shield, white water lily, large-leaved pondweed, grass-leaved pondweed, grass-leaved arrowhead, horned bladderwort, common bladderwort, coon's-tail, and water smartweed. Of note is the presence of nesting Trumpeter Swans, the largest native waterfowl species in North America. Once fairly common throughout the northern U.S., market hunting and the millinery trade rapidly depleted nesting populations during the 19th century. By the end of the 1800's, trumpeters were gone from Wisconsin until a successful reintroduction program was established in 1987. Today, there are approximately 300 free-flying Trumpeter Swans in Wisconsin. Flat Lake is owned by Douglas County and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.


Driving directions

From the intersection of County G and County Y in Gordon, go north on Y 3.2 miles, then north on Flat Lake Road 1.5 miles to the west edge of the lake.


Flat Lake is owned by:

  • Douglas County


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.

To create your own custom map where you can zoom to a specific location, please use the DNR's mapping application.


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.

The good majority of SNAs are isolated and have few or no facilities. Some SNAs have vehicle access lanes or parking lots, but their accessibility may vary depending on weather conditions. Parking lots and lanes are not plowed during winter. Hiking trails may be nonexistent or consist of undeveloped footpaths. A GPS unit or compass and detailed topographic map are useful tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Non-DNR lands

Entrance fees: For non-DNR-owned SNAs, we are unaware of any vehicle or admission fees. However, please contact the landowner for more information.

Hunting and trapping

This is a non-DNR owned SNA: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the land owner. Please contact them directly to find out about their rules for hunting and trapping. You can find a link to other owner websites under the "Resources" heading above. More details regarding allowable uses of this non-DNR owned SNA may be posted, if available, under the "Access" tab above.

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Other activities

Other allowable activities such as - but not limited to camping, geocaching and bicycling are determined by the landowner. Please contact them directly or visit their websites for details.

Last revised: Monday, March 27, 2023