Places We Protect

Lulu Lake Preserve


A silhouetted bird flies over a lake in front of a pale orange sky.
Lulu Lake Preserve Sandhill cranes make their homes along the wetlands surrounding Lulu Lake. © Fauna Creative

Lulu Lake Preserve in the southern Kettle Moraine is home to wetlands, oak openings and rare fish and mussels.



Lulu Lake glitters amidst the rich marshes of the upper Mukwonago River watershed. When viewed through the lens of species richness and water quality, this 95-acre kettle lake (a lake created by the glaciers) and its watershed comprise one of Wisconsin's highest quality natural areas.

The preserve’s high-quality stream, wetlands and oak openings provide habitat for rare fish and mussels and many native plants and animals.

Before European settlement, there were more than 5.5 million acres of oak openings in Wisconsin. Today only about 500 acres survive. Between 50 to 80 of these acres are found around Lulu Lake. The Nature Conservancy is using fire and manual removal of invasive plants to restore and maintain them. 

Scientific researchers interested in several topics — oak openings; the hydrology of sedge meadows and fens; and rare species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, bees and butterflies — have used the preserve as an outdoor laboratory.




Open year-round, dawn to dusk


Glacial kettle lake, Crooked Creek, fens and bogs, wildflowers, birds


632 acres

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Photos from Lulu Lake

Thanks to habitats ranging from wetlands to prairie remnants, Lulu Lake has a wide diversity of plants, birds, and wildlife to see year-round.

The golden sun sets over a lake in a gradient blue/yellow sky with plants silhouetted around the shore.
A lesser fringed gentian (Gentianopsis procera) flowering in dappled sunlight.
: A close-up of a Sandhill Crane and two chicks walking along a wetland area.
A blue-spotted salamander on a brown fallen leaf.
A bird's eye view of a blue winding river running through a green field.
Purple wildflowers grow in a green field in front of a big tree under a blue sky.
An osprey.
An ovenbird on the ground among the underbrush.
Three people in yellow life jackets kayaking in Lulu Lake Preserve in the Milwaukee, Mukwonago River Watershed in July 2017.
A group of light purple flowers, shaped like arrows.


  • Plants: Surrounding the lake and along the river are various types of wetlands including fens, bogs and sedge meadows. Plants found in the sedge meadows include blue flag iris,  tussock sedge and Joe-Pye weed. Calcareous fens are rare plant communities bathed by calcium-rich groundwater. Plants that can be found in these fens include lesser fringed gentian, Ohio goldenrod and grass-of-Parnassus.

    On the higher ground, you will find prairie remnants and oak openings. In summer, shooting stars, blazing star, and other wildflowers are abundant.

    The northern kitten tail is this preserve's most endangered plant. In the spring, this plant produces foot-high flowering stems resembling—you guessed it—the tail of a young feline.

    Fish: Of the 150 fish species native to Wisconsin, 59 can be found in Lulu Lake and the Mukwonago River! The river is home to several rare fish species, including the longear sunfish. The clear, deep lake water provides habitat for glacial relict fish such as the blackchin shiner and the Iowa darter.

    Birds: Lulu Lake Preserve is a great place for birdwatching. A few of the species you can see are osprey, sandhill cranes, great-horned owls, common yellowthroats, ovenbirds and yellow warblers. 

  • Spring is an especially good time to visit: the wildflowers are in bloom, the migratory songbirds have returned from their wintering grounds farther south, and birds of prey may be seen fishing in the lake. Winter is a great time to snowshoe or cross-country ski on the ungroomed trails. 

    Parking is provided at the TNC parking lot located at N9564 Nature Rd, Eagle, WI. The Legacy and Shaddock Memorial trails provide two miles of hiking on mostly gravel with sections of grass and rolling hills.

    Good walking shoes or boots, long pants, water and bug spray (in summer) are recommended.

    To protect the sensitive plants and animals on the preserve, please stay on the designated trails. There is no boating or swimming access to Lulu Lake. Cell service may not always be available.

  • For more information about visiting the preserve, please follow the links below:

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


Lulu Lake Preserve has an interesting human history. The Knickerbocker Ice Company operated at Lulu Lake from about 1898 until 1921. As many as 150 employees worked there year-round, and teams of horses were used to clear snow from the lake so the ice could be cut. The company’s warehouse was located approximately where the boathouse is today. As many as 1,500 car loads of ice were shipped out annually by railroad.

The land was later owned by the Milwaukee Boys’ Club and used as an outdoor conservation camp called Camp Fred Loock. In 1980, the Boys’ Club sold the land to Baxter Travenol, a medical products company based in Illinois, and it was used as a corporate retreat.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) made its first acquisition at Lulu Lake Preserve in 1986. Today, it is one of four TNC preserves in the Mukwonago River watershed where we are working with many different partners to protect globally threatened oak openings, healthy wetlands, and one of the cleanest rivers in southeast Wisconsin.

To maintain the oak openings, prairies and wetlands at the preserve, staff and volunteers use prescribed fire and control invasive species such as purple loosestrife, wild parsnip, buckthorn, honeysuckle and garlic mustard.

We work with area communities, residents, and many partners to accomplish our work, because we can only be successful when everyone is involved.

Nearby Preserves and Protected Areas

Need more nature? Visit The Nature Conservancy's other preserves or other local protected areas.