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Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area


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 4 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 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-plus acres of recreational opportunities.

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


Following the successful rehabilitation of Big Muskego Lake in 1995-96, 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.

Management objective

Shallow lakes are rare ecosystems and are often degraded to promote recreation. Big Muskego Lake is an excellent example of a relatively intact system. The lake is managed to maintain at least 20% 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 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.


Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:

  • Birding (eagles, ospreys, 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.


Download [PDF] a map of this property.

If you are interested in exploring this property further, you can access an interactive map.

Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area


This wildlife area has been adopted by the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.