Crooked Creek Preserve takes its name from the winding river that runs through it. The preserve harbors a major portion of the headwaters of the Mukwonago River.
It is a landscape of steep ridges, kettle lakes, and wetlands inhabited by sandhill cranes and other interesting plants and wildlife. It’s also a great place to see and participate in restoration of the land as Conservancy volunteers remove pine plantations and restore parts of the preserve to prairie and oak savanna.
Southeastern Wisconsin: 35 minutes southwest of Milwaukee in Walworth and Waukesha counties
Open year round, dawn to dusk.
For more information about the preserve itself, contact the Conservancy's local office:
N8957 Pickerel Jay Road
East Troy, WI 53120
Tel: (262) 642-7276
Because of the high-quality stream surrounded by wetlands and oak openings, which provides habitat for rare fish, mussels and plants.
An oak opening is dominated by clustered, open-grown bur oaks and white oaks, and shagbark hickory. The ground is covered with prairie and forest plants.
Before agricultural settlement there were more than 5.5 million acres of oak savanna in Wisconsin. Today only about 500 acres survive, some of which are found at the Crooked Creek Preserve. The Conservancy is using fire and manual removal of non-native plants to restore and maintain them.
Crooked Creek Preserve has been a sanctuary for plants, birds, and other animals since Thomas and Florence Russell of Chicago turned the land into a nature conservancy and summer retreat.
The Nature Conservancy bought the first 197 acre tract from Aurora University (formerly George Williams College) in August, 2000 and now owns 276 acres at this preserve.
The Conservancy has spent nearly 10 years removing white and red pines from the preserve to prevent soil erosion into the river and to restore the oak savannas that once existed on the property. The pines don’t naturally occur in the area but have spread over the years from sites where they were planted, surrounding many of the oak trees native to the area, reducing the sunlight that reaches them, and starting to kill their lower branches.
Crooked Creek Preserve is located within the Mukwonago River Watershed project area. The Conservancy has an office and staff in the East Troy area, and we are working cooperatively with many different public and private partners to accomplish the following:
Wetlands dominate the eastern portion of the preserve, and the Mukwonago River flows across the southeastern corner. A kettle lake with an earthen dam spills into a tributary of the Mukwonago River, and there are oak openings north of the lake. The northern portion of the preserve is open pasture and grassland, which will eventually be returned to prairie.
Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines"
(Map to Crooked Creek)
From Milwaukee (a 35-minute drive):
From Madison (a 75-minute drive):