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Surrounded by spreading aspen, oaks and pines of Wisconsin's Northwoods, Matthews Lake offers relaxation and recreation to those who come to her shores. Found in northwest Wisconsin's Washburn County where nearly 80 percent of the land is classified as woodland and approximately 40 percent of the housing is classified as recreational, Matthews Lake is a place of renewal. For those wanting a week-end escape, Matthews Lake is a scenic two-hour drive northeast of Minneapolis-St. Paul, or 75-mile drive south of Duluth and Lake Superior.
Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources classifies Matthews Lake as a seepage lake which means the lake relies on groundwater and precipitation as the principal water supply. The sandy soil surrounding Matthews Lake works to purify the groundwater as it enters this sparkling 263-acre lake. Because there are no inlets or outlets to Matthews Lake water levels may fluctuate with the seasons. On average, the clear water of Matthews Lake runs at a depth of 12 feet with a maximum depth of 26 feet.
A boat ramp maintained by Washburn County's Forestry Department is located at the northwest end of Matthews Lake's 3-mile shoreline. A small parking lot is maintained for public use. Boaters should note that a no-wake period is enforced before 10:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. giving residents peaceful evenings to watch sunsets color the sky or quiet cool mornings to cast a line into Matthews Lake.
Like many lakes within Wisconsin's Lake Superior Northwoods Tourism Region, Matthews Lake has a good selection of fish just waiting for anglers to arrive. Northern pike, bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, muskie, crappie and panfish are among the species you will find. With over 1,000 lakes in Washburn County, lake fishing is a popular activity, but less than a mile south of Matthews Lake anglers have access to the Namekagan River, recognized for its excellent fishing. The river's cold water habitat holds brown trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike.
The Namekagan River flows northwest of Matthews Lake and eventually meets the St. Croix River. In combination, the rivers make up the Saint Croix National Scenic Waterway. Camping along the shores and river islands is a popular pastime. Campsites amenities are basic, but include a primitive toilet, fire-ring and picnic table. Designated camping areas are made visible from the river by brown and white tent symbols. Canoers and kayakers are attracted to the near natural state of this scenic waterway where backwaters and sloughs make excellent stops for bird and wildlife watching. Personal watercraft are prohibited along designated stretches of the waterway, but the rivers are open to all boaters. The National Park Service maintains maps and guides that will safely lead boaters down the rivers.
Time at Matthews Lake is a time to relax and enjoy a taste of rural life. Within 40 miles of Matthews Lake visitors can enjoy local flavor without leaving Washburn County. The history of Washburn County has been lovingly preserved in the communities surrounding Matthews Lake. In the community of Birchwood, the historical society maintains the Log Museum, displaying a collection of logging memorabilia, and the 1901 Howard Morey Homestead, preserving the memory of a local Wisconsin aviator.
The Museum of Woodcarving is found in Shell Lake and holds over 400 miniatures and 100 life-size carvings by Joseph T. Barta. Drive to downtown Spooner and you will find the Railroad Memories Museum displaying model trains and dioaramas. Just down the road you will find the Wisconsin Canoe Museum that holds over 25 antique and historic canoes.
Visitors who prefer to be outdoors will enjoy touring the Governor Tommy G. Thompson Fish Hatchery, the largest muskie hatchery in the world. Located in Spooner, the hatchery "annually produces nearly 2 million walleyes, 100,000 muskellunge and some northern pike." If your preference leans toward butterflies, Happy Tonics Sanctuary for the Monarch Butterfly is located on the north side of Shell Lake. This half-acre of restored prairie land is a "wildflower and butterfly garden dedicated to protecting the monarch." At the south end of Washburn County, 400 acres of forests, meadows and lakes form the Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary. Hiking trails are open to the public and lakes are open to paddlers.
Beautiful woodlands, clean water and rural lifestyle have created an increasing demand for homes in Wisconsin's Northwoods. A growing number of lakes in Washburn County are fully developed but Matthews Lake remains a pleasant mix of residential homes and natural settings. Whether you swim and water ski in the summer or snowmobile and cross-country ski in the winter, Matthews Lake offers it all. Lakefront real estate properties and vacation rentals are available on Matthews Lake with additional properties found throughout the county. Come to Matthews Lake where you are surrounded by the beauty of the Northwoods and a country lifestyle you will call home.
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