Our route on the brochure map

Wisconsin Chain Of Lakes (first time)

Finally paddled Chain of Lakes in Hartman Creek State Park near Waupaca for the first time. We had checked it out last fall and got to experience it for real on a fine October afternoon.

We were not alone on the lakes but it was sparsely populated. The idea of being there in full season was not enticing. The lakes are small and it wouldn’t take a whole lot of paddlers to feel a bit crowded. Anyway, several kayakers helped us with directions. We really got a kick out of a man on a SUP with his black lab who had three frisbees in his mouth.

We were hoping to see brilliant fall color, but we were there about a week or so before peak. We were also too early for “Pumpkin Time at the Millers” an annual display of intricately carved pumpkins at the intersection of Knight Lane and Golke Rd. (Note to self – next year aim for the 3rd week in October)

There wasn’t a lot of wildlife, but we did see a wading great blue heron in Marl Lake and a sandhill crane couple at Camp Tamarack on Knight Lake.

The big draw was the unique blue-green color of Marl Lake, and it did not disappoint.

We don’t have much to add about the put-in and parking since our last post except that even during this second year of Covid, they did have porta-potties which we appreciated. We understand that parking can a problem on weekends, but we were there mid-week, and there was plenty of space to park. We also found that there is a second smaller boat landing at the south end of Marl Lake. It didn’t have as much parking and seemed quite a narrow drive, but good to know there is an alternative.

Although there are  22 connected lakes, they are not all good for paddlers.  Get the map from https://explorewaupaca.com/explore-the-lakes.html which shows “fast” vs “no wake” lakes by color.

Download:  Official Brochure
This website provides a table with WI DNR links for each lake. There are other spring lakes besides Marl that is no wake.

Marl Lake is 14 acres, 59 ft depth and is the only spring-fed lake we paddled (the others are drainage lakes). This says “unique limestone bottom gives it its unique color”; the carbonate of lime mineral gives it the green color. Here find: more info and history of Marl (p33) and other lakes can be found

Manomin Lake is 6 acre, max depth 30 ft.
Knight Lake is 15 acre, max depth 42 ft.
Orlando lake is 9 acre, max depth 39 ft.
Pope Lake is 21 acres, max depth 40 ft