Foggy rolling in over the fen, with wildflowers and trees in the foreground
Misty Morning: Mist rising at Pickerel Lake Fen © Gerald H. Emmerich, Jr.

Places We Protect

Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve

Wisconsin

Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve is largely dominated by oak openings, an extremely rare plant community.

Why You Should Visit

The Nature Conservancy has established its Mukwonago River Watershed project office on 36 acres located on the west side of Pickerel Lake. The land, which includes a portion of Pickerel Lake Fen, a rare wetland type, contains several springs that feed Pickerel Lake and an oak woodland.

The fen itself is located south of Pickerel Lake and is a fragile environment. Please stay on the trails when walking at the preserve.

ACCESSIBLE TRAIL: We’ve created a trail that is accessible to people who use power-driven mobility devices to help them get around. Get Directions

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.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

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

All of 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.

With support from Melita Frankfurth Grunow, we created a trail at our Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve that is accessible to people in wheel chairs or who use other power-driven mobility devices to help them get around. The trail takes visitors through the woods to a beautiful view of the lake and surrounding wetlands.

This trail at our Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve is accessible to people who use other power-driven mobility devices to help them get around.
Accessible Trail: This trail at our Pickerel Lake Fen Preserve is accessible to people who use other power-driven mobility devices to help them get around. © Rachel Wimble/TNC

From Milwaukee to Pickerel Lake office at N8740 Pickeral Lake Road:

  • Take I-43 southwest to Exit 43, the Mukwonago exit (State Highway 83).
  • Turn right at the top of the exit ramp and immediately get over into your left lane.
  • Turn left at the first light, which is Bayview Road (Citgo Station on your left).
  • Follow Bayview around to the next traffic light, which is Highway ES.
  • Turn left on ES.
  • Follow ES for a mile or so to Highway J. (You’ll see a pale yellow barn on the right with a huge smiley face painted on it.)
  • Turn right on J and follow that for about 5½ miles to Pickeral Lake Road.
  • Turn left on Pickeral Lake Road and follow that for about a mile to N8740 Pickeral Lake Road.
  • For ADA access, park in the space marked with a blue handicapped-accessible sign. An ADA-accessible trail is available in front of the parking space.
  • For other business, follow the driveway uphill to the office, a one-story, red-brick building.

From Madison to Pickerel Lake office at N8740 Pickeral Lake Road:

  • Take I-90/I-39 south to Exit 163
  • Turn left on State Highway 59
  • Turn left on Highway N
  • Turn right on US 12
  • At State Highway 67 continue straight on Highway 20
  • At the intersection with Highway J, go straight ahead on J
  • Turn right on Pickeral Lake Road
  • Follow Pickeral Lake Road for about a mile to a drive on the left marked N8740.
  • For ADA access, park in the space marked with a blue handicapped-accessible sign. An ADA-accessible trail is available in front of the parking space.
  • For other business, follow the driveway uphill to the office, a one-story, red-brick building.