Eastern Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

View of the trail between Kentuck Lake and Spectacle Lake as it crosses Kentuck Creek.
View of the trail between Kentuck Lake and Spectacle Lake as it crosses Kentuck Creek. Photo by Stephen M. White.

A fruiting wintergreen visible from the trail.
A fruiting wintergreen visible from the trail. Photo by Stephen M. White.

Twinflower in bloom beside the trail.
Twinflower in bloom beside the trail. Photo by Stephen M. White.

A partial view of the northeastern shoreline of Kentuck Lake.
A partial view of the northeastern shoreline of Kentuck Lake. Photo by Stephen M. White.

This section of the trail passes close to a conifer swamp. Labrador tea and sphagnum moss are visible in the foreground.
This section of the trail passes close to a conifer swamp. Labrador tea and sphagnum moss are visible in the foreground. Photo by Stephen M. White.

View from the trailhead at the Kentuck Lake parking lot.
View from the trailhead at the Kentuck Lake parking lot. Photo by Stephen M. White.

Kentuck Lake Swales

Region: Eastern

Forest: Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

District: Eagle River-Florence Ranger District, Eagle River Unit

Description: Kentuck Lake features a unique 0.7-mile long, 10-20 meter wide swale flanked by two narrow, curving sandy ridges that parallel the north shore of Kentuck Lake. Wind and wave action, in concert with the lake’s size, shape, orientation and basin morphology, have over the centuries created the unique ridge and swale topography found here. The assemblage of plants found on the swale contains representatives of several natural communities seldom found in such close association. Species normally associated with xeric pine forests or barrens exist here intermingled with species characteristic of open bog, conifer swamp, sedge meadow, and calcareous fen.

A narrow footpath winds its way through the swales, with rustic bridges crossing creeks and wet places. A developed campground is located on Kentuck Lake for those wishing to stay nearby.

The inland beach consists of a wet, open sandy-peat swale with scattered small trees of tamarack, jack pine, white pine, paper birch, showy mountain ash, red maple, and winter holly. In open areas are patches of bog species such as sphagnum moss, wire-leaved sedges, and ericaceous shrubs interspersed with patches of bog club moss, sundews, bladderworts, beak-rushes, and sedges.

The low ridge adjacent to the lake is densely forested with scattered pines, white spruce, red maple, and balsam fir. To the northeast is a one to two meter high, 10-30 meter wide beach ridge forested with an older-growth forest of white and red pine, hemlock, white spruce, black spruce, balsam fir, yellow birch, and white cedar.

Further inland is a larger northern wet forest dominated by black spruce and tamarack with small pockets of white cedar, black ash, and red maple. A dense shrub layer of tag alder, winterberry, and mountain holly is present in the less boggy portions of this wetland. Where a deep carpet of sphagnum moss is present, the shrub layer is composed of ericaceous species including wintergreen, Labrador tea, bog rosemary, and cranberry. Common herbaceous species are cinnamon fern, twinflower, water arum, and swamp false Solomon’s seal.

Safety First: Foot attire appropriate for walking over rough and wet terrain is recommended. The weather may be unpredictable; appropriate insect and moisture protection is advised.

Directions: From Eagle River, go east on State Highway 70, then north on Divide Rd. (FR2176) to the USFS Kentuck Lake campground, the trailhead is across from the boat ramp. This trail follows along the northeast end of Kentuck Lake 2.5 mile to Spectacle Lake campground

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Eagle River-Florence District – Florence Unit.

Closest Town: Eagle River, Wisconsin