Find Tamer, Warmer Waters in Inland Lakes
The waters of Lake Michigan, Green Bay, and the Great Lakes are wonderful—but sometimes, you can’t beat the pace of a day spent on an inland lake. Kayak and swim in shallower, more serene waters, spend a lazy day fishing, or hang a hammock between two trees and simply take in the lake views. Or, if open water is calling your name, take to Lake Michigan or Green Bay for sailing, ferry rides, and high-speed water sports.
Although Lake Michigan attracts visitors with its dramatic views and beautiful beaches, Door County's inland lakes are some of the peninsula's best-kept secrets. Perfect for paddling, swimming, fishing and exploring, the inland lakes of the peninsula will not disappoint.
Largest Lakes in Door County
At 1,156 acres, Kangaroo Lake is Door County's largest inland lake located in Baileys Harbor. With a maximum depth of 12 feet, it's an ideal spot for swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking and canoeing. Anglers will find this lake stocked with panfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye.
A causeway was built in the 1800s and separated the lake into the developed southern portion and the undeveloped northern part consisting of extensive wetlands. The lake is home to a diversity of forests and wildflowers. The entire north end of Kangaroo Lake is ringed by floating sedge mats and surrounded by a lowland forest of white cedar, black ash, tamarack, black spruce and balsam fir. Visitors can spot rare and endangered species of Dorcas copper butterfly, bald eagles, osprey, and Caspian terns. The environment is a breeding and migratory habitat for black terns, sandhill cranes and other waterfowl. It is home to one of just two known reproducing populations of the federally endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly.
The second largest inland lake in Door County is Clark Lake, at 865 acres with a mean depth of 7 feet and a maximum depth of 25 feet. Clark Lake is located just north of Whitefish Dunes State Park near Jacksonport. Clark Lake is very clear, making it a popular fishing spot in Wisconsin. The fish found in Clark Lake include panfish, smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass and trout.
Clark Lake has one public boat landing at the end of East Town Line Road on the west side of the lake. It can be accessed from three public parks or natural areas: Logan Creek State Natural Area along the north side of the lake, Whitefish Dunes State Park on the east side of the lake, and Whitefish Dunes State Natural Area to the southeast.
Mid-Sized Lakes in Door County
Lake Mackaysee provides the best of both worlds: traveling on open water to Chambers Island and fishing for panfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and northern pike fish on a peaceful inland lake. This 347-acre lake is located on the northeast side of Chambers Island and contains two small islands. The lake has a maximum depth of 27 feet and a mean depth of 6 feet. Most of Chambers Island is privately owned, but there is a public boat launch at the East Dock on the island, and the lake can be accessed via road from there.
Europe & Mud Lakes
Near Gillis Rock, at the eastern tip of the Door County peninsula near the Lake Michigan Shoreline, you'll find the 297-acre Europe Lake. The lake can be accessed from parks, public lands and a public boat landing at the end of Europe Lake Road. Nearby public lands include Newport State Park, Ferdinand Hotz Park and the Europe Bay Woods State Natural Area.
Europe Lake is mainly a lowland marsh with a mean depth of 6 feet and a maximum depth of 10 feet. It's a popular Wisconsin fishing lake where anglers can find panfish, smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye. This is also the most eastern lake in Wisconsin.
Located on 2,290 acres of Mud Lake Wildlife Area, Mud Lake is home to many species of wildlife and is surrounded by a shrub and timber swamp. The presence of bird species, such as the common goldeneye, makes Mud Lake and the surrounding area popular for birding. At 169 acres and with a maximum depth of 5 feet, Mud Lake is also well suited for canoeing, kayaking and fishing, and it's located in Northeastern Door County, near Moonlight Bay.
Smaller Lakes in Door County
The smallest lake in Door County at 65 acres, Little Lake is located within 250 feet of Lake Michigan on the northwest side of Washington Island. The area was once home to a village of Native Americans and has a burial ground. Artifacts as old as 3,000 years have been found in the area.
Little Lake was created thousands of years ago and is currently only 3 feet above Lake Michigan's water level. The lake's northern end is home to calcareous-loving plants such as buckbean, marsh bellflower and marsh cinquefoil. It is surrounded by white cedar and hemlock and is a nesting habitat for many migratory birds, such as red-shouldered hawk and black-throated blue warbler.
Before you venture out to explore Door County’s inland lakes, wetlands and marshes, take a minute to learn how to explore responsibly and leave no trace.
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