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Chippewa Moraine Lakes

No. 618


Photo by Eric Epstein


Chippewa Moraine Lakes features a dense concentration of nine lakes in a relatively natural state, situated within the morainal topography of Chippewa County just west of the Chippewa River. Lakes include Camp, Spence, Plummer, Little Plummer, Bass No. 1, Bass No. 5, Deer, Fishpole, and Burnt Wagon. Each exhibits differences in plant species composition and population densities due to depth, alkalinity, and shore features. An open floating mat surrounds the 6-acre Camp Lake. Sphagnum mosses and white beak-rush are dominant with small cranberry, tawny cotton grass, few-seeded sedge, and leatherleaf also present. The lake's hydrology appears relatively intact and numerous openings in the mat support northern yellow-eyed grass, narrow-leaved sundew, rose pogonia, and grass pink.

Fishpole Lake is a soft-water meromictic lake with a depth of 53 feet. Meromixis, the permanent thermal stratification of the water, results from the lake having an extremely small surface area in comparison to its depth. The lake never "turns over" and circulates as the water temperature changes in the spring and fall as is typical of most other Wisconsin lakes. Instead, its waters stay stratified creating unusual chemical and biological layers. Spence Lake is an acid bog lake having a small outlet that is the headwaters of Foster Creek. Plummer Lake is a 41-acre deep hard-water seepage lake with a small outlet stream to Bob Creek. Wood ducks nest here. Little Plummer Lake is a 10-acre hard-water seepage lake with an outlet stream to Plummer Lake and the Mud Creek drainage system.

It is a wilderness-type lake with no access roads or private development. Fish include northern pike, largemouth bass, perch, bluegills, rock bass, pumpkinseed, and bullhead. Mallards, wood ducks, and mergansers use the lake area for nesting. Bass Lake No. 1 (Town of Birch Creek) is a 6-acre soft-water seepage lake with an intermittent outlet to Mud Creek. Bass Lake No. 5 is a deep, hard-water seepage lake with a small inlet from Bass Lake No. 4 and a small outlet that is the main headwaters branch of Mud Creek. The 15-acre Burnt Wagon Lake is a landlocked, soft-water seepage lake with no development. Chippewa Moraine Lakes is owned by Chippewa County and DNR (Plummer Lake). The site was designated a State Natural Area in 2010.

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. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map and/or under the Maps 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 a detailed topographic map are useful tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Hunting and trapping

This SNA has multiple landowners: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the landowner. In general, most DNR-owned land allows hunting and trapping. Partner-owned land may have other rules (for example, university-owned lands do not allow hunting or trapping). 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 tab.

Allowable activities: DNR-owned land

The activities listed below are generally allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted above and posted with signs on the property site.

Prohibited activities: all SNAs

  • 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].


Within the Chippewa County Forest and Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area, Chippewa County. T31N-R8W, Sections 1, 2, 3, 10. T32N-R7W, Section 30. T32N-R8W, Sections 1, 2, 34, 36. 306 acres.

Driving directions

The eight lakes are located west of Cornell and the Holcombe Flowage near the Rusk/Chippewa county line. See the map for more information.

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 custom map where you can zoom to a specific location, please use the DNR's Mapping Application.

Property Map [PDF]

Chippewa Moraine Lakes is owned by: Chippewa County and the Wisconsin DNR

Management objectives and prescriptions

Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area