Sparkling Lake, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Lake Superior Northwoods Region -

In an area with an extraordinary number of lakes, Sparkling Lake sometimes slips under the radar. The lakes in Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Northwoods Region have been famous for over a hundred years as fishing and vacation destinations. And no county is known to have more lakes than Vilas County. So it is no surprise that few have heard of Sparkling Lake. Those lucky enough to have cottages along its shores likely want to keep their slice of Heaven a secret.

Located across the road from larger Trout Lake and only 15 miles from Boulder Junction, Sparkling Lake is small as Wisconsin lakes go. Only 157 acres, this sandy-bottom lake reaches 60 feet in depth and has a shoreline of over two miles. A few private cottages are located on the northwest shore. The rest of the area is now enclosed within the Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest. No campsites are available on Sparkling Lake, but two public boat access locations along the eastern shoreline allow for visiting boaters to enjoy the waters.

Fishing has always been a favored activity at Sparkling Lake. The waters hold largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, musky, walleye and panfish such as bluegills, perch, and sunfish. Ice fishing is nearly as popular as summer angling, and knowledgeable fishermen head to Sparkling Lake regularly on good fishing days. Although larger boats are permitted on Sparkling Lake, the public boat launch sites are not suitable for ski boats. One launch is designated a hand-carried boat launch site. Bigger Trout Lake across the highway offers more space for water sports.

Sparkling Lake’s fishery has recently recovered from a major invasion of rusty crayfish which nearly devastated the fishing. Rusty crayfish are an invasive species that severely damage the aquatic vegetation needed by smaller fish to breed and hide from predators. They also eat fish eggs and bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Panfish numbers decline, so larger predator fish such as walleye, bass and musky have nothing to eat. Sparkling Lake was over-run with the rusty crayfish in the 1970s. Luckily, the lake is one of 11 lakes that have been part of a monitoring project by the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research Program operated by the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Limnology.

In 2001, the Center began an experiment of intensive trapping of the invaders while limiting the catch numbers of their chief predators, the smallmouth bass. The state DNR (Department of Natural Resources) also stocked large numbers of larger young walleyes to further feast on the crayfish. After four years, surveys showed that the crayfish were considerably reduced in number. Aquatic plant life rebounded, as did the numbers of bluegill and pumpkinseed which prey on juvenile rusty crayfish. The fishery has improved considerably. The management plan will now be used to attempt to rid other lakes of an overabundance of rusty crayfish.

Living or vacationing at Sparkling Lake puts the entire family in range of a wide variety of outdoor activities. The Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest has numerous bike trails and hiking trails, cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails. Streams within the forest area are open for canoeing, and both modern and rustic campgrounds offer a camping experience to fit every desire. Boulder Junction serves as the main shopping center for the local area and has a variety of lodging choices as well as restaurants and cafes. The mainstay of the economy in Vilas County is recreation, so there are always numerous festivals and events going on to attract a crowd. Between fishing tournaments, triathlons, boat races, lumberjack exhibitions, carnivals and ethnic festivals, visitors are sometimes hard-pressed to choose between two equally attractive diversions for the weekend.

Numerous resorts, fishing camps and guest cabins offer every type of lodging in the area. Small motels provide economical overnight accommodations, while bed & breakfasts and inns provide special interest stays for such activities as photography or gourmet cooking. Several museums show visitors how the local residents lived in the past during the lumbering era and the fur-trapping period. Guide services provide the perfect fishing trip for that trophy musky or to fish the idyllic trout stream. Golf courses abound, and special golf vacations are easily arranged. A casino, zipline facility, guided snowmobile tours, bluegrass jamborees, ice skating shows, and even an ‘adult prom’ keep activities varied and interesting. It is no wonder real estate in the area is in high demand.

Summer brings waterski shows, farmers’ markets and food-related festivals. And every Friday, there is a fish fry somewhere. All kinds of special-interest sporting events, from pickleball to snowshoe softball are going on somewhere in Vilas County. Music festivals and concerts are a regular weekend occurrence. So much is going on in this vacation wonderland that visitors will occasionally be glad to simply spend a quiet evening in front of a campfire on the beach.

No matter what your interests or hobbies are, Sparkling Lake will allow you to indulge. The many trails within the Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest allow for nature study just a short distance from your cottage. Deer, raccoon, squirrel, fox and a large number of waterfowl and songbirds can be seen and photographed. Solitude is easy to find here, to clear the mind and refresh the soul.

There aren’t any commercial rental facilities currently on Sparkling Lake, but property owners will occasionally rent their cottages on a weekly basis to vacationers. These are often hard to find, but usually local real estate agents know which properties may be rented. Very often, a week’s vacation near Sparkling Lake will have renters looking to purchase their own slice of heaven. So, come to Sparkling Lake and see if this is the vacation place you’ve been looking for.

Things to do at Sparkling Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Forest
  • Museum
  • Shopping
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Sparkling Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Sparkling Lake Photo Gallery

    Sparkling Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 157 acres

    Shoreline Length: 3 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,631 feet

    Average Depth: 35 feet

    Maximum Depth: 60 feet

    Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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