Little Spider Lake, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Lake Superior Northwoods Region -

Little Spider Lake covers 223 acres in Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Northwoods Region. Located in Vilas County, Little Spider shares a landscape dotted with lakes large and small, dense woodlands, marshes, bogs, and rivers. Among Vilas County’s 1300 lakes and streams, Little Spider Lake attracts little public attention except for those who vacation here regularly or call the lake home. Originally called Gaffrey Lake, Little Spider Lake is well-developed with homes and vacation properties sharing the shoreline with state lands. Vilas County borders Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so many of the properties this far north are inhabited only seasonally. The main outflow of Little Spider Lake, Verna Creek, flows through marsh and boggy land in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest before emptying into nearby Verna Lake. The lake remains quiet due to limited public access and should not be confused with another Little Spider Lake near Hayward, part of the Spider Lake chain.

The lake bottom near the shore in many areas is sand, making for excellent swimming. Little Spider Lake reaches a maximum depth of only 23 feet. A tract of land belonging to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources lies between two lobes of the irregular lake on the north shore, giving water access on three sides but no designated boat ramps. The DNR maintains a boat launch on the northwest side of the lake, but its location is not marked on most maps and therefore little-known. The Little Spider Lake Association maintains a launch site on the southern shore that was upgraded in 2011.

The property owners association produces special events such as the annual July 4th raft parade on Little Spider Lake for area residents, but otherwise remains low-key. Several small resorts share the lakefront with private cottages and homes, many of which are rented for short periods to vacationers. Much of the shoreline slopes steeply to the water, giving great views but some difficulty on getting watercraft to the water in many areas. The lake also contains a few sand bars that are well-known to the locals. The largest of these is often the site of an occasional boat gathering and ‘party-barge’ anchorage. Many of the properties have private docks and most have enough level lakeside space for the traditional campfire pit and a few lawn chairs. Zoning restrictions do not allow building in close proximity to the water and discourage tree cutting, so the vistas remain unspoiled and wooded, adding to the ‘up-north’ atmosphere.

Little Spider lake is excellent for fishing. Largemouth bass, muskellunge, walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch, bluegill, rock bass, crappie and panfish are all caught. Muskie and walleye are stocked in alternate years and add to the fun in all seasons, with good-sized fish caught through the ice in winter. Anglers renting a cabin for fishing can often get fishing information and even guide service through camp management. Although there are no actual bait shops on the lake, many resort proprietors sell a limited amount of bait. Because water is nearly as prevalent in the area as dry land, large numbers of bait shops and sporting good stores are found within a 10-mile radius.

Little Spider Lake is lucky enough to be near the special Black Tern Bog State Natural Area, designated in 1967 and located within the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. The bog hosts two little seepage lakes surrounded by about 20 acres of ‘quaking’ bog composed of sphagnum moss. Plants growing within the bog include common grass sedge, buckbean, sundew, bog rosemary, bog laurel, leather-leaf, the less common swamp pink, grass pink, rose pogonia, and the bog rush which is endangered within Wisconsin. Birds such as the American bittern and black tern are sometimes sighted, along with the common snipe, killdeer, sparrow, mallard and red-winged blackbirds that nest here. The Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest sprawls across several counties in large parcels, offering many old logging roads for hiking, several designated camping areas, canoe routes, cross-country skiing, and lots of space for nature observation.

The area around Little Spider Lake is a sportsman’s paradise, with fishing, hunting and miles of old logging roads to explore. Many of the small resorts stay open all winter to accommodate both ice fishermen and snowmobile adventurers. In fact, all of Vilas County is known as a winter playground, with large snowmobile clubs grooming trails to connect to the total of 25,000 miles of trails in Wisconsin. Rallies, races and charity runs are regularly produced by local snowmobile clubs. The City of Minocqua, 10 miles to the south, is known for its ‘Cruiserfest Bikini Races’, a well-attended festival produced by the Cross-Country Cruisers Snowmobile Club. Minocqua acts as recreation hub for the area, while the small towns of Arbor Vitae and Woodruff are closer and even more convenient for picking up supplies, gas for the outboard or car, and basic groceries. Minocqua offers more than a score of choices in lodgings, from hotels and motels, to bed and breakfasts, guest cottages, resorts and many private rentals. Located 75 miles north of Wausau, Little Spider Lake is easily reached from Highway 51.

A number of nearby attractions and historical locations offer a diversity of educational entertainment in Vilas County, including the Ojibwe Museum and Cultural Center, the William J. Poupart Fish Hatchery and Trout Pond, a traditional Waswagoning Indian Viilage, the Dr. Kate Museum, the Snowmobile Hall of Fame, and the Northwoods Children’s Museum. One week is not enough to truly explore the area. Real estate is available on Little Spider Lake in a variety of price ranges. A few lake access lots may be found, but more have some lake frontage. The few areas that are not developed around the shoreline are mostly wetland, supporting a variety of wildlife and adding to the natural ambiance of Little Spider Lake. This lake is easy to fall in love with, and summer visitors soon become regulars each year at their favorite guest cottage.

Things to do at Little Spider Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Forest
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Little Spider Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Little Spider Lake Photo Gallery

Little Spider Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 223 acres

Shoreline Length: 5 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,622 feet

Average Depth: 13 feet

Maximum Depth: 23 feet

Water Volume: 3,025 acre-feet

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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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