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She looks up and freezes, the coffee cup halfway to her mouth. Standing in front of her in the grasses and shallow water of the lake is the biggest creature she has ever seen. She is sitting on the deck of the house she is renting on Lake Metonga looking at a moose. They are rare visitors, but along with the eagles, loons and sandhill cranes they have been known to enjoy the shallows of the Northwoods lake. She never dreamed she'd actually see one when she decided to vacation at Lake Metonga in northern Wisconsin. It is only one of the many treats she has had while staying at the lake.
Metonga Lake is a drainage lake and one of four major lakes that make up the Swamp Creek system. The others, Lake Lucerne, Ground Hemlock Lake and Rice Lake, are connected by creeks including Outlet Creek, the outflow of Lake Metonga. Lake Metonga has 2,157 surface acres of water and stretches about three miles long by a mile and a half wide. The lake in Forest County is oligotrophic and very clean and clear.
The county maintains a boat ramp and public access also includes a boat ramp maintained by the City of Crandon along with a few others. There is more than enough water to boat, tube and water-ski, and kayakers will enjoy exploring Lake Metonga's wooded shores. Scuba diving is also popular in the lake and groups will occasionally hold organized "Trash and Treasure" dives to clean up the lake. Crandon has a public beach on the lake for swimming and a picnic area and volleyball courts.
Lake Metonga has invasive zebra mussels which filter the lake's water but can also inhibit fish populations. Metonga Lake, however, still has abundant fish populations including northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass and small mouth bass. In the winter anglers can ice fish on the lake.
Winter brings lots of snow with cross country ski and snowmobile trails in the nearby Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Named after French explorer Jean Nicolet, the forest was established in 1933. It is divided into two sections. The Chequamegon section includes 858,400 acres and the Nicolet section, closest to Lake Metonga, includes 661,400 acres. Trails for hiking and biking cross the forest, and there are cabins and campgrounds as well.
Metonga Lake is near Crandon. Established in the 1880's by Samuel Shaw, Crandon has a rich lumber history. Today, there are restaurants, shops and various accommodations ranging from hotels to bed and breakfasts. Waterfront vacation rentals on Lake Metonga include cabins, cottages and more elaborate homes, and there is real estate for sale for visitors wishing to extend their stays.
Unfortunately, the moose doesn't seem to be planning to extend his stay, and as she watches he turns and makes his way back into the Northwoods. It doesn't really matter. She feels lucky to have seen him at all. She sits quietly sipping her coffee and planning the rest of her day. She might take the boat out on the lake or later venture into Crandon for lunch and some shopping. Whatever she chooses, Lake Metonga has more than enough to amuse her. With its clean, clear water and the beauty of northern Wisconsin, Lake Metonga is a fantastic Northwoods destination.
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