Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Inch Lake State Natural Area © Thomas A. Meyer

Inch Lake State Natural Area
© Thomas A. Meyer

June 2015

Wisconsin, naturally

Inch Lake State Natural Area

Thomas A. Meyer, State Natural Areas Program

Notable: This designated "wild lake" of 31 acres is treasured for what's there and for what's not. Inch Lake's completely natural shoreline coupled with the absence of any human–made elements is an increasingly rare combination in Wisconsin. The lake is classified by ecologists as a "soft–water seepage lake," meaning its waters are acidic and are supplied primarily by precipitation and by groundwater seeping through the substrate of the lake's basin. It's landlocked, with neither an inlet nor outlet, and the water level may fluctuate seasonally based on rainfall patterns. The fishery contains largemouth bass, yellow perch and panfish, though anglers are restricted to using artificial lures and no motors of any kind are allowed on the lake. These special protective regulations have provided important research opportunities related to the impact of angling on fish populations in a closed system. Just to the east of Inch Lake lies Hildur Lake, a larger, hard water drainage lake that forms the headwaters of the White River. Surrounding these two aquatic gems is a second–growth forest of red pine, red oak, aspen, sugar maple, white pine and paper birch on rolling topography. The shrub layer is dense with American hazelnut in areas. Blueberry, bracken fern, Indian pipe, wild sarsaparilla and the semi–parasitic wood betony find refuge in drier areas of the forest. This special natural area is protected for us all thanks to the generosity of Jill and Jerry Martin and the West Wisconsin Land Trust who gifted this land to the people of Wisconsin. dnr.wi.gov and search "Inch Lake" for a map and more information.

How to get there: From the intersection of Highway 2 and County H in Iron River (Bayfield County), go south on H for 6.6 miles to Scenic Drive, then south for 0.9 miles to a parking area east of the road. A lane leads northeast to the lake and affords carry–in canoe/kayak access.