Sparkling Lake, WI
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Sparkling Lake, Wisconsin, USA

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Map: Sparkling Lake, Wisconsin, USA

In an area with an extraordinary number of lakes, Sparkling Lake sometimes slips under the radar. The lakes in Wisconsin's Lake Superior Northwoods Region have been famous for over a hundred years as fishing and vacation destinations. And no county is known to have more lakes than Vilas County. So it is no surprise that few have heard of Sparkling Lake. Those lucky enough to have cottages along its shores likely want to keep their slice of Heaven a secret.

Located across the road from larger Trout Lake and only 15 miles from Boulder Junction, Sparkling Lake is small as Wisconsin lakes go. Only 157 acres, this sandy-bottom lake reaches 60 feet in depth and has a shoreline of over two miles. A few private cottages are located on the northwest shore. The rest of the area is now enclosed within the Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest. No campsites are available on Sparkling Lake, but two public boat access locations along the eastern shoreline allow for visiting boaters to enjoy the waters.

Fishing has always been a favored activity at Sparkling Lake. The waters hold largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, musky, walleye and panfish such as bluegills, perch, and sunfish. Ice fishing is nearly as popular as summer angling, and knowledgeable fishermen head to Sparkling Lake regularly on good fishing days. Although larger boats are permitted on Sparkling Lake, the public boat launch sites are not suitable for ski boats. One launch is designated a hand-carried boat launch site. Bigger Trout Lake across the highway offers more space for water sports.

Sparkling Lake's fishery has recently recovered from a major invasion of rusty crayfish which nearly devastated the fishing. Rusty crayfish are an invasive species that severely damage the aquatic vegetation needed by smaller fish to breed and hide from predators. They also eat fish eggs and bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Panfish numbers decline, so larger predator fish such as walleye, bass and musky have nothing to eat. Sparkling Lake was over-run with the rusty crayfish in the 1970s. Luckily, the lake is one of 11 lakes that have been part of a monitoring project by the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research Program operated by the University of Wisconsin's Center for Limnology.

In 2001, the Center began an experiment of intensive trapping of the invaders while limiting the catch numbers of their chief predators, the smallmouth bass. The state DNR (Department of Natural Resources) also stocked large numbers of larger young walleyes to further feast on the crayfish. After four years, surveys showed that the crayfish were considerably reduced in number. Aquatic plant life rebounded, as did the numbers of bluegill and pumpkinseed which prey on juvenile rusty crayfish. The fishery has improved considerably. The management plan will now be used to attempt to rid other lakes of an overabundance of rusty crayfish.

Living or vacationing at Sparkling Lake puts the entire family in range of a wide variety of outdoor activities. The Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest has numerous bike trails and hiking trails, cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails. Streams within the forest area are open for canoeing, and both modern and rustic campgrounds offer a camping experience to fit every desire. Boulder Junction serves as the main shopping center for the local area and has a variety of lodging choices as well as restaurants and cafes. The mainstay of the economy in Vilas County is recreation, so there are always numerous festivals and events going on to attract a crowd. Between fishing tournaments, triathlons, boat races, lumberjack exhibitions, carnivals and ethnic festivals, visitors are sometimes hard-pressed to choose between two equally attractive diversions for the weekend.

Numerous resorts, fishing camps and guest cabins offer every type of lodging in the area. Small motels provide economical overnight accommodations, while bed & breakfasts and inns provide special interest stays for such activities as photography or gourmet cooking. Several museums show visitors how the local residents lived in the past during the lumbering era and the fur-trapping period. Guide services provide the perfect fishing trip for that trophy musky or to fish the idyllic trout stream. Golf courses abound, and special golf vacations are easily arranged. A casino, zipline facility, guided snowmobile tours, bluegrass jamborees, ice skating shows, and even an 'adult prom' keep activities varied and interesting. It is no wonder real estate in the area is in high demand.

Summer brings waterski shows, farmers' markets and food-related festivals. And every Friday, there is a fish fry somewhere. All kinds of special-interest sporting events, from pickleball to snowshoe softball are going on somewhere in Vilas County. Music festivals and concerts are a regular weekend occurrence. So much is going on in this vacation wonderland that visitors will occasionally be glad to simply spend a quiet evening in front of a campfire on the beach.

No matter what your interests or hobbies are, Sparkling Lake will allow you to indulge. The many trails within the Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest allow for nature study just a short distance from your cottage. Deer, raccoon, squirrel, fox and a large number of waterfowl and songbirds can be seen and photographed. Solitude is easy to find here, to clear the mind and refresh the soul.

There aren't any commercial rental facilities currently on Sparkling Lake, but property owners will occasionally rent their cottages on a weekly basis to vacationers. These are often hard to find, but usually local real estate agents know which properties may be rented. Very often, a week's vacation near Sparkling Lake will have renters looking to purchase their own slice of heaven. So, come to Sparkling Lake and see if this is the vacation place you've been looking for.

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Sparkling Lake


  • Vacation Rentals
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Skating
  • Ice Fishing
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Snowmobiling
  • Swimming
  • Snowshoeing
  • Beach
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Canoeing
  • State Forest
  • Water Skiing
  • Museum
  • Golf
  • Shopping
  • Camping
  • Casino Gambling
  • Campground

Fish Species

  • Bass
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Black Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Sunfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Perch
  • Walleye
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