Conservancy Lands– the Special Places of Green Lake

While not all the Green Lake Conservancy Lands have public access, there are 15 of these special places that do. These properties feature scenic vistas and sweeping lake views. You can enjoy hiking, biking, paddling or birding on these trails through uplands and wetlands. See wildlife and plants in their native habitat and relax in the peacefulness of nature. View the map below for each location and click on the names to read a brief description of the property, look through pictures taken there, and see the trail map overview.

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The Silver Creek Water Trail

Extending along Silver Creek Inlet, this water trail allows access for canoe and kayak paddlers to five different Conservancy properties – Spaulding’s Bridge, Sunnyside Conservancy, Pools Hill, Sugar Island Wetlands, and Silver Point Wetlands.  Launch points are available at Spaulding’s Bridge Landing and the Green Lake Sailing School, located in Sunset Park.

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Protect Your Own Land

The state of Wisconsin has recognized that individual communities do an excellent job of identifying places worthy of protection.

Additionally, the state has facilitated private land stewardship by legislation that helps landowners maintain the right to enjoy what is special about their property while decreasing their tax burden and allowing them to realize some financial gain from their good stewardship.

Norwegian Bay Wetlands

Norwegian Bay Wetlands

Norwegian Bay Wetlands includes the largest area of contiguous wetlands on Green Lake. The wetlands complex and adjacent bay provide a vital spawn area for fish and habitat for a variety of wildlife, including songbirds and amphibians. This conservancy property also provides valuable ecosystem services such as water purification, carbon storage, habitat for biodiversity, and flood prevention. A boardwalk winds through the wetlands to the shore of Green Lake. The trailhead can be accessed from Bay Road. The site can also be accessed by boat from Norwegian Bay.

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Winnebago Trail Conservancy

Winnebago Trail Conservancy

Originally part of the Green Lake Conference Center, the Winnebago Trail Conservancy consists of southern oak forest and remnant prairie along the north shore of Green Lake. A former Native American trail follows the elevated shoreline and offers spectacular views of Sugarloaf and Norwegian Bay. Near the east end of the property, the trail passes under a large 110-year-old stone and concrete arch. The trail is accessible from the trailhead near the historic Lawson water tower on Hillside Road.

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Forest Avenue Oak Savanna

Forest Avenue Oak Savanna

Located in the City of Green Lake, a portion of this land was restored from a previous commercial property to native oak savanna, the dominant vegetation community of the Green Lake region prior to European settlement.

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Sunnyside Conservancy

Sunnyside Conservancy

Sunnyside Conservancy, now protected in perpetuity, was slated for residential development in the early 1960s. Fortunately, the property has become a popular site for hiking, skiing, and birdwatching, and is managed for protection and enhancement of native biodiversity. Located along Silver Creek Inlet, the Sunnyside Conservancy contains a mixture of woods and restored prairie, with several man-made channels. The total shoreline in this conservancy is more than a mile. Walking trails extend from the parking area along Lakeview Drive, or it may be accessed by boat via Silver Creek Inlet as a part of the Silver Creek Water Trail.

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Guskey & Miller Prairies

Guskey & Miller Prairies

Located in the City of Ripon, the site consists of restored tallgrass prairie and riparian forest along Silver Creek. The native grassland buffer filters and absorbs surface water runoff before it enters Green Lake’s main tributary.

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Spaulding's Bridge Landing

Spaulding's Bridge Landing

Canoeists and kayakers use the landing to launch as they follow the Conservancy’s Silver Creek Water Trail on Green Lake’s largest tributary, Silver Creek. This small parcel was acquired by a family with a larger piece of land on the Silver Creek. It was a bit problematic because the public had always used it as an unofficial access to the creek, so it was difficult to manage from an unauthorized use standpoint. The landowners were approached by a Boy Scout hoping to install a fishing pier for an Eagle Scout project. The liability was a concern until the landowners’ father suggested contacting the Green Lake Conservancy. A win-win deal was struck, allowing a transfer of the property as long as the Conservancy would allow the Eagle Scout to install the pier.

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Pools Hill Nature Preserve

Pools Hill Nature Preserve

Part of the Green Lake Conservancy’s Silver Creek Water Trail, Pools Hill Nature Preserve contains a wetlands complex that includes wooded openings and rare fen habitat. Pools Hill is only accessible by water (by boat or ice), and is a part of the Silver Creek Water Trail.

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Sugar Island Wetlands

Sugar Island Wetlands

Located near the east end of Green Lake, this property protects 30+ acres of shoreland habitat on Silver Creek. The property includes submerged and emergent marsh, shrub-carr, lowland forest, and Sugar Island – a wooded peninsula where the Ho-Chunk Nation made maple sugar. It has served as a location for the Green Team’s Moonlight Walk. 

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Silver Point Wetlands

Silver Point Wetlands

Silver Point consists of a narrow band of wetlands that extends along the Silver Creek Inlet and Highway A near Sunset County Park, and is part of the Silver Creek Water Trail. The land protects 1,500 feet of shoreline and is directly across the Inlet from the Sugar Island Wetlands.

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Mitchell's Glen

Mitchell's Glen

Formerly owned by S. D. Mitchell, this spectacular site was formed 12,000 years ago when post-glacial meltwater eroded the sandstone bedrock, resulting in a steep-sided and timbered gorge. Mitchell Glen supports one of the few maple-basswood climax forests in Green Lake County. The unique geological formations and spring-fed stream are part of a high-quality corridor that supports outstanding biodiversity. The shaded sandstone cliffs with cold-air drainage and springs at the base of the gorge render a moist, cool microclimate that sustains certain plant species more typical of northern Wisconsin. Please note: this property is accessible only during two annual guided hikes.

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Tuleta Hill Prairie

Tuleta Hill Prairie

Previously farmland, the 7.5 acres Tuleta Hill Prairie is being restored to prairie and oak savanna. The prairie features a half-mile mowed walking trail, with sitting benches for taking in the natural beauty of the area.

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Wick Nature Preserve

Wick Nature Preserve

Wick Nature Preserve protects 3.2 acres of southern oak forest and wetlands, which store and filter surface water runoff before it drains into Green Lake. Intensive efforts have removed invasive buckthorn from the forest. There are no established trails, but visitors are welcome to explore the woods.

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Blackbird Point Wetlands

Blackbird Point Wetlands

The property features cattail marsh and lowland forest off the east side of Blackbird Point Road, north of McAfee Road. These wetlands help provide a buffer for the waters of Green Lake, as well as a home for native wetland biodiversity. There is no established trail, but the woods can be explored.

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Tichora Conservancy

Tichora Conservancy

Formerly known as Camp Grow (and prior to that a Boy Scout camp – Camp Tichora), this property was acquired in 2018 and includes shoreline on both Green Lake and Spring Lake.  The buildings have been removed, and the site is being restored to a natural state – and includes hiking and biking trails.

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Assembly Creek & Springs

Assembly Creek & Springs

This property, which includes 1,100 feet of Green Lake frontage, was purchased from the Green Lake Conference Center. Hammer’s Trail, a two-thirds mile walking loop, includes six bridges over several creeks and springs. These waterways merge into Assembly Creek, which flows into Norwegian Bay of Green Lake. Ongoing management of the site by “Green Team” volunteers includes removal of invasive plants, like European buckthorn and Oriental bittersweet, both ecologically invasive introductions that can crowd out native plants.

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