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Explore these undiscovered waters in Vilas County


  • Article
  • Hiking
  • Lakes & Rivers
  • Parks & Natural Areas
  • Trails

With more than 1,300 lakes, Vilas County is home to one of the largest collections of freshwater lakes in the world. Here are a few of our favorites.

The Mary Lake State Natural Area is located in Winchester in northwestern Vilas County, Wisconsin.

With more than 1,300 lakes, Vilas County is home to one of the largest collections of freshwater lakes in the world. While the county has big, popular lakes and expansive lake chains, it also has some quiet backwaters that offer a beautifully wild Northwoods experience. Some lakes are easy to access, others are a bit of an adventure to reach, but they are all memorable. Here are a few of our favorites.

Fallison Lake (Sayner-Star Lake, Boulder Junction)

The undeveloped shoreline of this 51-acre lake can be explored via a scenic hiking trail that includes several boardwalks. Anglers will find plenty of trout to pursue. A rustic nature center can be found nearby at Crystal Lake Campground.

Mirror Lake (Land O’ Lakes/Presque Isle)

This lake is for nature lovers! Mirror Lake is a wild 43-acre lake that’s crystal-clear. It’s located near the Michigan border in the Guido Rahr Sr. Tenderfoot Forest Preserve. Paddle across Palmer and Tenderfoot Lakes before hiking a two-mile trail around Mirror Lake.

Deep Lake (Conover)

This lake is small (10 acres) but as its name suggests, relatively deep (29 feet). There’s a parking and picnic area off of Deep Lake Road and nearby there are six miles of trails that are good for hiking and birdwatching.

Mary Lake (Winchester)

This lake is a treasure – it’s tiny, at just three acres, but it’s really deep for a lake this size (67 feet). In fact, it’s so unique, scientists have been studying these waters for nearly a century. It’s one of the few meromictic lakes in Wisconsin. Because the water does not turn over or circulate, it has undisturbed, stratified layers of water.

Sherman Lake (Manitowish Waters)

The Powell Marsh State Wildlife Area spans more than 4,300 acres in Vilas County. It’s located about three miles south of Manitowish Waters and it features some scenic trails that are used for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Powell Marsh is a great place for birdwatching—over 213 different species of birds have been spotted here. The Powell Trails will take you to Sherman Lake, a 126-acre lake filled with musky and walleye. Anglers can hit the water via a public boat landing.