Kangaroo Lake

This preserve is a picturesque spot for hiking, canoeing or bird watching.

Open to the Public


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Why You Should Visit

Kangaroo Lake is a large, shallow lake surrounded by marshes, lowland forests and rocky outcrops.  The beautiful natural shoreline makes the preserve a picturesque spot for hiking, canoeing or bird watching.

The marshes are filled with wire sedge, bullrushes, and white and yellow water lilies.

In spring, the dolomite plateau west of the lake features a rich display of wildflowers.


Northeastern Wisconsin: southwest of Bailey's Harbor in Door County


Open year-round, dawn to dusk


The wetlands are best viewed from a canoe.  Best hiking trail is at the Judy Abert Meissner Memorial Wetlands Preserve.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Many of Wisconsin's lakes are surrounded by homes.  But the north end of Kangaroo Lake offers the Conservancy and its partners an opportunity to preserve a lake and shoreline in its natural condition.

Thanks largely to its extensive shoreline marshes and surrounding lowland forests, the lake's north end, unlike the south end, has never been developed.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

In 1995 the Conservancy acquired 117 acres at the lake's north end.  In 1996, we transferred 57 acres to the Door County Land Trust for long-term protection and management.

In 2005, the Conservancy purchased a critical wetland parcel in the headwaters of Kangaroo Lake.  The 42-acre parcel is located on Peil Creek in Gibraltar Township and is a major source of the headwater wetlands feeding Kangaroo Lake.  The acquisition was made possible by a generous gift from the family of Judy Abert Meissner and the parcel was named the Judy Abert Meissner Memorial Wetlands Preserve in her memory.  There is a nice walking trail on the property.

The Conservancy owns and manages 367 acres at Kangaroo Lake.

To protect the north basin, the Conservancy is working with two local conservation organizations, the Door County Land Trust and the Kangaroo Lake Association.  Grants from the State of Wisconsin and Ducks Unlimited have funded land acquisition.

The Conservancy and the Kangaroo Lake Association are collaborating on a project called “Fish Sticks,” which will provide fish habitat and reduce shoreline erosion. Fish sticks are mid-sized trees that have been harvested elsewhere, transported to the lake and placed in the near shore, shallow water where they are then anchored to the shoreline.

The partially submerged trees will provide habitat for many fish and invertebrates in the lake, protect the shoreline from wave erosion, provide calmer waters where submerged plants can get established, providing even more habitat for fish, frogs, turtles, dragonflies and many lakeshore birds.

What to See: Plants

Large lowland forest at the lake's north end: white cedar and black ash, with lesser numbers of tamarack, black spruce and balsam fir

  • Wildflowers: goldthread, naked miterwort, dewberry and starflower
  • Dolomite plateau west of the lake: the forest here is dominated by sugar maple, beech, white birch and red oak.
  • Small peninsula in the north basin: Canada yew, a regionally declining species
What to See: Birds and Insects

The Kangaroo Lake/Peil Creek area provides habitat for several rare species:

  • Bald eagle
  • Black terns
  • Caspian terns
  • Dorcas copper butterfly
  • Osprey
  • Hine's emerald dragonfly (Peil Creek is one of less than 15 sites worldwide where this federally endangered species can be found.)

The marshes at the north end of the lake serve as an important breeding and migrational staging site for sandhill cranes, Canada geese and other waterfowl.

During the breeding season, blue-winged and golden-winged warblers have been spotted in an old beaver meadow about a mile north of Kangaroo Lake.

Please see our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.


Directions for Canoe Access
From Bailey's Harbor: Drive south on State Hwy 57 for approximately 1 mile to Cnty Hwy E. Travel west on Cnty E for about 1 mile. Just before you reach the causeway between the north and south ends of Kangaroo Lake, look for The Nature Conservancy’s sign on the north (right) side of the road. Park here and carry your canoe about 75 feet west to put in at the eastern edge of the causeway.

Directions to the Judy Abert Meissner Memorial Wetlands Preserve
From Bailey's Harbor, take County Hwy F northwest for about 1.5 to 2 miles to the intersection of South Highland Road and County Hwy F. Take the left fork at the intersection (straight ahead) onto South Highland Road. Travel about 1.5 miles on S. Highland Rd. to preserve entrance on left side of road. You will see a small parking area and a sign. (Map to Kangaroo Lake)

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.


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

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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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