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This property is sponsored by the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.

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For information on the wildlife areas, contact:
Wildlife Management

Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area

COVID-19 Update

On Friday, May 1 and at the direction of Gov. Evers, the department reopened state parks, forests and sites within the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway with special conditions. Four State Natural Areas remain closed: Parfrey's Glen, Pewits Nest, Gibraltar Rock and Dells of the Wisconsin River. All Wildlife Areas and Fisheries Areas are open. For more information, please visit the DNR's COVID-19 information webpage for the full list of conditions, including hours of operation, admission fees and more.

Big Muskego Wildlife Area

Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area is located in south-eastern Waukesha County just southwest of Milwaukee. It is south of Interstate 43 and north of state Highway 36 and bordered by county Highway Y on the west and county Highway OO on the east. Several upland parcels surround the lake; these are off Boxhorn Drive in the northeast, Muskego Dam Road in the south and Parker Road at the east end of the lake.

Big Muskego Lake Lake is a shallow 2,260-acre lake fringed with cattail-dominated wetlands and encompassing numerous islands of cattail marsh. Most of Big Muskego Lake is less than four feet deep with generally a muck bottom. The area surrounding the shallow cattail dominated lake consists of native prairie, scattered oak woodlots and small wetland basins. Bass Bay is a 100-acre connected embayment of Big Muskego Lake Lake that has a deeper basin typical of other glacially formed "kettle lakes" in the region. Bass Bay has a maximum depth of 23 feet and has a bottom substrate of predominantly muck with some isolated sandy shoreline areas. Parcels surrounding the lake add another 525+ acres of recreational opportunities.


Property history

Following the successful rehabilitation of Big Muskego Lake in 1995-96, the Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area was established in 1999 to protect the area surrounding this shallow lake. The city of Muskego and the DNR have partnered to protect hundreds of acres around the lake. Big Muskego Lake is also a Land Legacy Place.

Management objective

Shallow lakes are rare ecosystems and are often degraded to promote recreation. Big Muskego Lake Lake is an excellent example of a relatively intact system. The lake is managed to maintain at least twenty percent emergent cover and promote wildlife habitat. Fishery objectives aim to reduce carp and provide game fish opportunity. The goals of the surrounding landscape are to promote grassland, savanna and satellite wetlands.

Periodic drawdowns of Big Muskego Lake Lake will be implemented when necessary to maintain water quality, wildlife habitat and the fishery. The habitats throughout the entire wildlife area will be maintained and improved using a number of techniques including prescribed fire, brush removal, planting native species and removal of invasive species.

Southeast Region Planning Group [PDF]

The Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities.

  • Birding - eagle, osprey, forester's terns and great blue herons breed in the area.
  • Canoeing
  • Cross country skiing (no designated trail)
  • Fishing
  • Hiking (no designated trail)
  • Hunting
  • Snowmobiling trail
  • Trapping
  • Wild edibles/gathering
  • Wildlife viewing

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Useful links
Last revised: Wednesday May 06 2020