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As a kayaker slides into Wisconsin's Oak Lake, he notices the dense mix of hardwood pines surrounding the lake's edge. The thick tree line separates the kayaker from the outside world, and the only sound emanating from within the trees is a distant call of a bird. After touring most of the lake, the kayaker settles down on a shore for a leisurely lunch, reveling in the peace and quiet.
Oak Lake is set in a quiet portion of Wisconsin's northwestern edge in Burnett County, within the Lake Superior Northwoods tourism region. The lake spreads out across 226 acres with a shoreline reaching roughly four miles in length. Just under 30 public lakes surround the area, making the area a hotspot for lake and water enthusiasts.
Anglers are one such enthusiast that love finding their way to Oak Lake's waters. Casting out on a quiet morning into the lake's maximum depths of 19 feet could mean bringing home lunch or dinner. Norther pike, panfish and bluegills swim beneath the clear waters, though the lake is more known for its largemouth bass, where anglers have been known to snag six-pound fish upwards of 23 inches long.
Additional calming activities fare well among Oak Lake. Those staying within one of the lake's vacation rentals can sit on the back porch to view wildlife in the summer as the occasional deer peeks through the trees or settles near the water's edge for a sip of water. For those with more energy to spend, throw on swimming gear and slice through the lake's translucent waters to get your heart rate up.
Plenty of real estate is available around the Oak Lake area, especially with a country club close by. Join others with similar interests for a round of golf at the 9-hole par-3 golf course or pamper yourself inside with the club's indoor fitness center and sauna. Hiking trails and a snowmobile trail system during the winter keep year-round residents happy in any season.
A quick 15 mile drive away from Oak Lake through the area's lake-filled countryside is the Village of Webster. The heart of downtown holds a quaint bookstore for popping into on a cold day or a cafe for quick bite to eat before running off to explore more of the town. Grab your bike -- or rent one nearby -- and hop onto a portion of the Gandy Dancer State Trail, a 98-mile winding, wide trail crossing three counties in Wisconsin and one county in Minnesota.
Less than an hour away from your retreat in Oak Lake lies the edge of St. Croix State Park, a 34,000-acre park which runs along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The park is packed with miles of trails ranging from 1.5 miles for hikers, 21 miles for mountain bikers or 75 miles for horseback riders. Pick a campsite and lose yourself in this scenic spot, but keep your eyes peeled for all sorts of wildlife, including black bear, bobcats, coyotes, red and gray fox and even a few timber wolves. Look into the tree tops for warblers, flycatchers, eagles, owls and osprey or bring a plant identification booklet as you hike past stemless lady-slippers or moccasin flowers.
Whether you decide to tuck yourself away in the cozy vacation rentals sitting snug in Oak Lake's woods or become a full-time resident in this secluded area of Wisconsin, know that there is a slice of something for everyone. Snowshoeing in the winter and sunbathing in the summer make Oak Lake the perfect spot for settling down.
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