Lake Ripley, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Southern Savanna Region -

Lake Ripley is beautiful 423-acre lake located just outside the historic town of Cambridge, in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. A public beach and park within walking distance of downtown make this once glacier covered area a great place for a summer picnic or a weekend of fun and relaxation. With a maximum depth of 44 feet, the lake is also a favorite with anglers and offers exceptional year-round fishing.

Most of Lake Ripley’s nearly five miles of shoreline has been developed with private homes, resorts, and other types of vacation rentals. Ripley Park, located on the western shore of the lake, is an 18 acre park privately owned by the Cambridge Foundation and managed by the Cambridge Community Activities Program. The park is a wonderful place for the entire family to enjoy the beach, play some tennis, basketball or volleyball, or take a boat out onto the crystal, clear water. A swimming area, picnic areas, picnic shelter for large groups, bathhouse with showers and a concession stand are available for guests of the park. Anglers will find a number of game fish in the spring-fed lake to include largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, bluegill, walleye and white bass.

There are no campgrounds on Lake Ripley, but camping opportunities can be found in the nearby towns of Shell Lake and Sarona. Vacation rentals in the form of lodges, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and summer residences can be found around the lake and in the town of Cambridge. Real estate is also available for purchase for visitors who would like a permanent summer or year-round retreat.

Just west of Lake Ripley, the village of Cambridge features century-old buildings which hold a wide variety of shops and boutiques offering antiques, salt-glazed pottery, and unique art created by local artisans. A village square is the site of farmer’s markets and numerous arts and crafts festivals. Fine dining and lodging is also available in town.

Outdoor enthusiasts visiting Lake Ripley will find a number of parks, creeks, and recreational trails in the area. Running through the center of Cambridge, Koskonong Creek is very popular with canoeists. In the winter, the creek is a favorite of cross country skiers. The Cambridge Foundation, in partnership with Dane County Parks, purchased nearly 500 acres of land along the Koshkonong Creek to connect the villages of Cambridge and Rockdale. A bridge connects trails for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing between the two villages.

For those who enjoy off-road bicycling, the Glacial Drumlin Bike Trail begins near the town of Cottage Grove, northwest of Lake Ripley, and takes bikers east for 52 miles where it ends at the Fox River Sanctuary in the town of Waukesha. The trail follows the path of the old Chicago and Northwestern Railway that operated in the 1880s.

For nature lovers, the Red Cedar Lake State Natural Area is just south of Lake Ripley. Red Cedar Lake is a shallow, 370-acre lake surrounded by wetlands. The lake is home to countless waterfowl to include herons, cranes and bitterns. The lake has a maximum depth of six feet, but 90 percent of the lake is less than three feet deep and is best explored by kayak or canoe.

The northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest is an easy drive southeast of Lake Ripley and offers 30,000 acres for camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting. The forest is internationally known for its unique glacial features. Approximately 31 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail makes its way through the length of the dense forest.

Just 20 minutes east of Madison and one hour from the cities of Milwaukee and Rockford, Lake Ripley is great place for a summer picnic or an exciting day of cross country skinning. Amazing fishing, abundant opportunities for hiking and biking, and the surrounding rolling, southern, Wisconsin farmland combine to make Lake Ripley a fantastic place to visit or call home.

Things to do at Lake Ripley

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Hunting
  • State Forest
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Lake Ripley

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Lake Ripley Photo Gallery

Lake Ripley Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 423 acres

Shoreline Length: 5 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 833 feet

Average Depth: 18 feet

Maximum Depth: 44 feet

Water Volume: 7,561 acre-feet

Trophic State: Meso-eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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