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Oneida County is known as the place "Where nature lingered longer." With over a thousand lakes, 68,447 acres of water and tens of thousands of acres of Wisconsin Northwoods, the phrase is certainly appropriate. One of the places nature lingered is on beautiful Tomahawk Lake.
Oneida County has one of the largest concentrations of water bodies in the world, and Tomahawk Lake is one of the largest lakes in the county. The drainage lake is part of a chain of lakes called the Minocqua Chain that forms the headwaters of the Tomahawk River. Tomahawk Lake is almost completely surrounded by the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. Established in 1925 the state forest contains 225,000 acres covering parts of Vilas, Iron, and Oneida Counties. The state forest was created to protect the headwaters of the Wisconsin, Flambeau and Manitowish Rivers. It is the largest of Wisconsin's state forests and it has miles of trails for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and horse back riding along with trails for ATVs and snowmobiles. There is hunting including an archery season for deer. Included in the forest is the Tomahawk Lake Hemlock State Natural Area. The 244-acre area is a forest of hemlocks. Designated as a natural area in 2007, it is a beautiful place to explore.
Tomahawk Lake is one of Wisconsin's Outstanding Resource Waters also known as ORW. Outstanding Resource Waters get the highest protection by law of their water quality. Tomahawk Lake has good water quality and is a productive fishery for walleye, northern pike, musky, and smallmouth bass. There are also healthy populations of blue gill, crappie, and largemouth bass. In the winter Tomahawk Lake is a popular ice fishing spot. Other good fishing lakes in Oneida County include Lake Nokomis and Pelican Lake.
Accommodations on Tomahawk Lake range from campgrounds and cabins to resorts. There are public boat launches and boat rentals. The town of Lake Tomahawk has restaurants and shopping and any amenities visitors could want. Rhinelander, Oneida's county seat, is within easy driving distance; along with more restaurants, shopping and accommodations, it has museums and cultural activities to explore. Look out for the city's mascot, the Hodag. In 1896 lumberjack Gene Shepard was photographed with the creature, a seven-foot long, 30-inch tall, hairy beast with horns down its back and tusks. Mr. Shepard later admitted that the photograph was a hoax, but by then the people of Rhinelander (or Pelican Rapids as it was called at that time) had become smitten with the Hodag. Today Hodags show up on t-shirts, souvenirs, and in team names. Oneida County is also home to the Mecikalski Stovewood Building and Museum. The folk architecture museum is made of 18-inch long pieces of cedar stacked and filled with lime mortar.
The beautiful Wisconsin Northwoods combine with Tomahawk Lake's outstanding water to make this Oneida County destination a place to linger longer. Nature certainly did and you will want to as well.
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