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Lake Ripley is beautiful 423-acre lake located just outside the historic town of Cambridge, in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. A public beach and park within walking distance of downtown make this once glacier covered area a great place for a summer picnic or a weekend of fun and relaxation. With a maximum depth of 44 feet, the lake is also a favorite with anglers and offers exceptional year-round fishing.
Most of Lake Ripley's nearly five miles of shoreline has been developed with private homes, resorts, and other types of vacation rentals. Ripley Park, located on the western shore of the lake, is an 18 acre park privately owned by the Cambridge Foundation and managed by the Cambridge Community Activities Program. The park is a wonderful place for the entire family to enjoy the beach, play some tennis, basketball or volleyball, or take a boat out onto the crystal, clear water. A swimming area, picnic areas, picnic shelter for large groups, bathhouse with showers and a concession stand are available for guests of the park. Anglers will find a number of game fish in the spring-fed lake to include largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, bluegill, walleye and white bass.
There are no campgrounds on Lake Ripley, but camping opportunities can be found in the nearby towns of Shell Lake and Sarona. Vacation rentals in the form of lodges, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and summer residences can be found around the lake and in the town of Cambridge. Real estate is also available for purchase for visitors who would like a permanent summer or year-round retreat.
Just west of Lake Ripley, the village of Cambridge features century-old buildings which hold a wide variety of shops and boutiques offering antiques, salt-glazed pottery, and unique art created by local artisans. A village square is the site of farmer's markets and numerous arts and crafts festivals. Fine dining and lodging is also available in town.
Outdoor enthusiasts visiting Lake Ripley will find a number of parks, creeks, and recreational trails in the area. Running through the center of Cambridge, Koskonong Creek is very popular with canoeists. In the winter, the creek is a favorite of cross country skiers. The Cambridge Foundation, in partnership with Dane County Parks, purchased nearly 500 acres of land along the Koshkonong Creek to connect the villages of Cambridge and Rockdale. A bridge connects trails for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing between the two villages.
For those who enjoy off-road bicycling, the Glacial Drumlin Bike Trail begins near the town of Cottage Grove, northwest of Lake Ripley, and takes bikers east for 52 miles where it ends at the Fox River Sanctuary in the town of Waukesha. The trail follows the path of the old Chicago and Northwestern Railway that operated in the 1880s.
For nature lovers, the Red Cedar Lake State Natural Area is just south of Lake Ripley. Red Cedar Lake is a shallow, 370-acre lake surrounded by wetlands. The lake is home to countless waterfowl to include herons, cranes and bitterns. The lake has a maximum depth of six feet, but 90 percent of the lake is less than three feet deep and is best explored by kayak or canoe.
The northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest is an easy drive southeast of Lake Ripley and offers 30,000 acres for camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting. The forest is internationally known for its unique glacial features. Approximately 31 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail makes its way through the length of the dense forest.
Just 20 minutes east of Madison and one hour from the cities of Milwaukee and Rockford, Lake Ripley is great place for a summer picnic or an exciting day of cross country skinning. Amazing fishing, abundant opportunities for hiking and biking, and the surrounding rolling, southern, Wisconsin farmland combine to make Lake Ripley a fantastic place to visit or call home.
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