The Quiet Lakes of Northern Wisconsin

Surveys of lake front property owners throughout Wisconsin identified two amenities of great importance – tranquility and watchable wildlife. These desirable amenities regularly rank higher than activities often associated with lakes such as boating, skiing and fishing. If you are looking for tranquility and good wildlife viewing than you might start with the Quiet Lakes.

MSJund Credited TEAL LAKE

The Quiet Lakes, a chain of three lakes located in Sawyer County, are located within the borders of the 1.5 million acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The largest lake, Lost Land Lake, at 1,264 acres, is the headwaters of the Chippewa Flowage and flows into Teal Lake, 1,024 acres and Ghost Lake, 384 acres. Ghost Lake received its name in the 1800s when a logger looked out at the sprawling waters and thought they disappeared into a “ghostly fog.”

Lake residents would say the lakes stay quiet and true to their name. On any given summer day, while other popular tourist destinations up north are subject to loud motor boats and jet skis, the Quiet Lakes have avoided noise pollution with a 10 mph speed limit since the 1960s. The low speed limit has helped maintain the peace and serenity of the lakes, while also creating a fishing paradise. The aquatic plant beds at the bottom of the lake are rarely disturbed and support a vibrant fishery.

In addition, the homeowners association requires lake residents to have at least 200 feet of shoreline property, compared to the standard 100 feet, to preserve the residents’ peace and privacy.

While the Quiet Lakes are quiet now, the land around them once echoed with the fall of virgin timber when logging was booming in the 1800s. Moving large, 100+ foot logs was made easy when all the lakes connect and flow into Teal River, which eventually connects to the Mississippi River. Because of forests like those around the Quiet Lakes, Wisconsin was the number one lumber producer in the world by 1899. After being extensively cut over and then sold as farm land that often failed to support farming, the land reverted to government ownership. In 1933, the forests surrounding the Quiet Lakes were added to the national forest system by Franklin D. Roosevelt and are known now as the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF).

Nearly five score areas within the CNNF were planted with trees by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The surrounding forests are now rich with both coniferous and deciduous trees. The Ghost Lake State Natural Area covers most of the eastern shore of its namesake and was so designated because of its high quality upland hardwood forest. The restoration of these forests has the added benefit of supporting much watchable wildlife. Animals once extirpated in Wisconsin, wild turkeys, fishers and elk, were later reintroduced and now live in nearby areas of the national forest.

Fisher on the look out.  Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.

Fisher on the look out. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.

Anglers in northern Wisconsin enjoy a large array of fishing on the Quiet Lakes. Muskellunge, largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill, perch, black crappie, pumpkin seed, and bullhead are all common throughout the Quiet Lakes.   In fact, many visitors are attracted from around the Midwest to the resorts on the Quiet Lakes for the fishing and have been returning across generations. On the lakes, wildlife watchers enjoy the haunting calls of common loons and the flights of fish-eating birds of prey like osprey and bald eagleTeal Lake sports six state-owned islands where boaters can stop for a short hike or picnic.

Bald Eagle. Photo by Herbert Lange.

Bald Eagle. Photo by Herbert Lange.

The Quiet Lakes offer a place of solitude. Whether attracted by the National Forests, or the great fishing, residents and visitors alike continue to enjoy the tranquility that enfolds Lost Land, Teal and Ghost lakes.

For more information on the Quiet Lakes, contact Bob Dale, President of the Teal/Lost Land/ Ghost Lakes Improvement Association.

 Entry written by Alyson Douglas, aquatic invasive species outreach assistant and Michael Putnam, water resources management specialist.
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One Response to The Quiet Lakes of Northern Wisconsin

  1. David Neuswanger says:

    In 2014 I retired as WDNR Fisheries Supervisor for the Upper Chippewa Basin working out of the Hayward Service Center. Currently I serve as President of the Quiet Lakes Association, having succeeded Bob Dale in mid July of this year. This was a nicely written piece about the Quiet Lakes. I might correct one thing though: The “homeowners association” has no authority and is not responsible for establishing or enforcing the 200-foot minimum waterfront lot size. That element of local zoning was enacted and enforced by the Sawyer County Zoning Department after much careful thought and negotiation over many years. Recently the State Legislature nullified all shoreland zoning regulations that were more restrictive than statewide rules. So much for the “local control” usually touted by the party in power. The Quiet Lakes are still as serene and inspiring as they have ever been, but only due to the wisdom of those who had the foresight to moderate the influence of human development in years past.

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