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Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve

Why You Should Visit

The Nature Conservancy has established its Mukwonago River Watershed project office on 40 acres located on the north side of Pickerel Lake. The land, which is largely dominated by oak openings, an extremely rare plant community, is at a high point, and there are good views of Pickerel Lake.

The fen itself is located south of Pickerel Lake and is a fragile environment. For that reason, visitation is limited to volunteer work days or by special permission from our Mukwonago office (see Hours below).


Southeastern Wisconsin: 35 minutes southwest of Milwaukee in Walworth and Waukesha counties


Open year round, dawn to dusk.

Volunteer work parties are occasionally held at the preserve. Visit the Volunteer section of this Web site for more information.

For more information about work parties or about the preserve itself, contact the Conservancy's local office:

N8957 Pickerel Jay Road
East Troy, WI 53120
Tel: (262) 642-7276

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Fens are among the rarest types of wetlands in North America, including Wisconsin. They are dependent upon natural springs and, as a result, have never been common. Pickerel Lake Fen is tied for first place with Ottawa Lake Fen as the most biologically diverse fen in southeast Wisconsin and is one of the few fens in conservation protection. Several rare or endangered species are also protected at the preserve. Pickerel Lake Fen is dedicated as a State Natural Area.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The Nature Conservancy has owned and managed land at Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve since 1985 when the Emmerich and Muth families donated 38 acres. The Emmerichs also donated a conservation easement on additional land to help protect the calcareous fen.  The Conservancy acquired another 40 acres in 2000 and located its Mukwonago River Watershed project office at the preserve.

Conservancy staff and volunteers, together with local landowners, are using periodic prescribed fires and manual removal to control non-native, invasive species like buckthorn and honeysuckle, which rim the edge of the fen and are slowly advancing on the interior. Left unchecked, they will out-compete the native vegetation and would eventually take over completely.

Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve is located within the Mukwonago River Watershed project area. The Conservancy has an office and staff at the preserve, and we are working cooperatively with many different public and private partners to accomplish the following:

  • Protect the water quality of and natural areas within the Mukwonago River Watershed.
  • Manage our preserves to maintain rare natural communities and provide habitat for fish, mussels, amphibians and reptiles.
  • Work with individuals and organizations concerned with the health of the watershed to help balance watershed protection with human needs and economic health.


What to See

The Conservancy is restoring oak openings at the preserve.  This plant community is extremely rare and is characterized by large burr and white oak trees with a prairie-like understory of grasses and wildflowers.

Of the 150 fish species native to Wisconsin, 59 can be found in the Mukwonago River and nearby Lulu Lake.  Pickerel Lake is home to the starhead topminnow, a rare fish on the state’s endangered species list.

Frogs heard at the preserve include spring peepers, green frogs, leopard frogs, pickerel frogs, and bullfrogs.

Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines"


From Milwaukee (a 35-minute drive):

  • Exit I-43 at Hwy 20 in East Troy and go west for 3 miles.
  • Turn right (north) on Pickerel Lake Road and travel 2 miles to Hwy J.
  • Turn right (east) on Hwy J and travel for 0.5 miles to Pickerel Jay Road.
  • Look for the horse statue on the southeast corner of Pickerel Jay Rd. Turn left (south) and drive to the end of the road. The driveway starts at the right side of the barrier and goes down the hill behind the barrier. The driveway is 0.5 miles long and leads to The Nature Conservancy’s office and a small parking area.

From Madison (a 75-minute drive):

  • Take US Hwy 12 about 8 miles past Whitewater to the junction of 12 and State Hwy 20.
  • Go straight onto 20. At the intersection of 20 and County Hwy J, continue straight on J to Pickerel Jay Road (on the right). Note: Be careful not to take Pickerel Lake Road—you want Pickerel Jay Road.
  • Look for the horse statue on the southeast corner of Pickerel Jay Rd. Turn right (south) and drive to the end of the road. The driveway starts at the right side of the barrier and goes down the hill behind the barrier. The driveway is 0.5 miles long and leads to The Nature Conservancy’s office and a small parking area.

Parking is available in lot next to Conservancy office between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. At other times, visitors should park on the road and walk in about 0.25 miles as gate will be locked.

Town of Troy parking regulations: Effective starting in 2008, there is no parking on any town road or town road right of way from November 1 to April 1. Town Right of Way is 33 feet from the center of the road.

Map to Pickerel Lake

All of our preserve maps are now georeferenced. You can download the free PDF Maps app on your Apple or Android device, and it will allow you to view your location, record GPS tracks, add placemarks and find places.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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