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Among Wisconsin's more than 15,000 lakes is the Eau Claire Lakes Chain, made up of three larger lakes and eight spring-fed smaller ponds. The Chain including the largest of the 11, the Upper Eau Claire, Middle Eau Claire and Lower Eau Claire Lakes, rest in Bayfield and Douglas Counties in the Lake Superior Northwoods Tourism Region of Wisconsin. The Eau Claire Lakes Chain makes up the headwaters of the Eau Clair River which flows into the Saint Croix River at Gordon, Wisconsin.
The Upper Eau Claire, the largest in the chain at more than 1000 surface acres, is in the Town of Barnes in Bayfield County. It reaches depths of up to 90 feet. The Upper Eau Claire has six satellite lakes: Robinson, Birch, Sweet, Shunenberg, Smith and Devils. The Federal Government and Bayfield County built hand-operated locks between the connecting channels and waterways in the late 1930s. The Town of Barnes now maintains the locks which are among the few hand-operated locks in the United States. Scenic boat trips down the tree-lined waterways are a popular pastime. A public boat ramp are available for anglers looking to score the big catch or folks who just enjoy a spending the day on the water. Vacation homes or rustic cabins are available to visitors of the Upper Eau Claire Lake. If you would like to relocate the real estate market has a number of opportunities.
The Middle Eau Claire Lake is the chain's second largest lake. It spans 900 surface acres and has 11 miles of shoreline open for fishing, vacation homes or permanent residences. Bony Lake is the satellite lake of the Middle Eau Claire. Public boat ramps are open at both lakes. All the lakes in the Eau Claire Chain boast a healthy population of fish. The Middle Eau Claire, 60 feet at its deepest, is no different.
The last of the big three is the Lower Eau Claire Lake in Douglas County. The clear water lake is 40 feet at it deepest and offers eight miles of shoreline. The 800 acre Lower Eau Clair Lake has one satellite lake, Cranberry. These two lakes complete the chain. There are roughly 14 resorts dotting the landscape surrounding the lakes in the Eau Clair Chain. No matter what the season there is something to do.
Eau Claire is French for clear water. The Eau Claire Lakes Chain definitely lives up to its name and offers wonderful fishing for novice and professional angers alike. Spring and fall are good times to head to the water for muskellunge, northern and walleye pike, small and largemouth bass. Crappies, bluegills, sunfish, and perch also swim the waters of the Eau Claire Lakes. Numerous streams provide good opportunities to reel in trout.
The lakes are surrounded by lush forests made up of large Jack, white and Norway spruce, balsam pines and a mix of other hardwoods. These woods are home to bald eagles, bear, deer, ducks, fox, loons, wolves as well as a number of smaller birds and animals. The forest canopy, abundant wildlife, and lake views make a perfect setting for hikes. The fall colors peak in late September/early October adding the brilliance of bright yellows, oranges and reds. In the winter, snow weighs heavily on the pines and coats the branches of the deciduous trees. Bundle up for a peaceful trek.
Douglas County has 300 miles of groomed trails and Bayfield County has almost 500 miles. Whether you visit in winter, spring, summer or fall there is something to do. Check with the counties to find trails for snowmobiling, ATVs, or horseback riding. Cold weather fans will find ample opportunities for skiing, both downhill and cross country. The Apostle Island Dog Sled race is also a popular attraction in the winter months in nearby Bayfield.
In the warmer months Bayfield and Douglas Counties become fruit picking country. Check out the tourism Web sites for berry picking farms and apple orchards. You can take a break from the placid waters of the lakes to fill a basket of just about any berry you can name. In the summer months there are cherries, strawberries and blackberries just to name a few. Festivals in late September and early October hail the harvest of some of the best apples in the U.S.
Northern Wisconsin also has a rich history from its early days as a powerhouse in the logging industry to documenting the influence of Lake Superior and the thousands of other waterways in the state. The Bayfield Heritage Center takes visitors back to the area's early settlements highlighting early logging operations and the everyday way of life. The PureAir Sanatorium, a tuberculosis treatment center for many years, is open to tourists as well. Shipwrecks, lighthouses, and marine equipment are the focus of the Bayfield Maritime Museum. If you are feeling adventurous, head to La Pointe, Wisconsin, and the Madeline Island Museum. Visit the museum to discover why Native Americans, fur traders and summer travelers have been coming to the island for more than three centuries.
The brilliance of the fall colors, the peacefulness of a walk through woods laden with winter snow, the glory of spring wildflowers or a refreshing dip in the cool waters on a summer day; the crystal clear waters of the Eau Claire Lakes Chain make a wonderful destination no matter what the season.
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