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Little Lake

No. 554


Photo by Door County Land Trust


The shallow, 24-acre Little Lake is the only inland lake located on Washington Island. Located within 250 feet of Lake Michigan, it is primarily fed by groundwater springs and surface water. The small, landlocked lake was created thousands of years ago through the deposition of wave-washed gravel across a shallow bay mouth of glacial Lake Nippising. As the glacial waters receded, a 250-foot wide cobblestone ridge was formed that helped create Little Lake. The present lake level is just three feet above that of Lake Michigan.

On the north end of the lake is a coastal fen that supports many calcareous-loving plants such as buckbean, marsh bellflower, and marsh cinquefoil. Other species include swamp rose, grass pink, elliptic spike-rush, swamp loosestrife, bulblet water-hemlock, and numerous sedges. Older stands of white cedar and hemlock surround the lake. The wetlands and unfragmented forests provide critical foraging and nesting habitat for a host of migratory and resident birds including the red-shouldered hawk and black-throated blue warbler. The area was once home to a large village of Native Americans and hosts a Native American burial ground. Numerous artifacts dating back 3,000 years have been found here. Little Lake is owned by the Door County Land Trust and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.

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.

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 landowner. 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.

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.


Washington Island, Door County. T34N-R29E, Section 23. 65 acres.

Driving directions

Please contact the Door County Land Trust for access information: (920)746-1359

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]

Little Lake is owned by: Door County Land Trust