Frugal Family Fun: Mother’s Day at Mirror Lake

I hope that all of you had as nice a Mother’s Day as I did! We went Morel mushroom hunting in the morning (no luck—we need a few more warm days!) and put the canoe into the water at Mirror Lake State Park near Wisconsin Dells in the afternoon. We paddled for an hour or so. The lake is about one and a half miles long with a dam at one end. There is a boat launch, beach, picnic area, canoe rental, camping, handicapped fishing access, and hiking and nature trails.

I chose Mirror Lake not only for the beauty of its stone formations and the smell of the huge white pines but also because of its fish and wild birds! My daughter loves to fish and complains bitterly that she doesn’t have enough opportunity and I love to bird watch. Mirror Lake provides a lot of both.

I found a small anchor at the first garage sale of our village wide a few weeks ago. It cost me $2, and I was thrilled to find it! I had shopped comparable anchors, and they wanted $15 and up for a new one—crazy! We brought it along, and it allowed us to stop near snags to allow my daughter to fish while I scanned the woods and water around us for wildlife. She had one good strike, but she couldn’t set the hook. We talked to a guy who was taking his boat out of the water, and he said he’d caught the biggest bass of his life and showed us a picture.  We had seen him fishing across the lake at another snag. He also said that he had been catching a lot of bluegills.

Mirror Lake fills a long valley with some smaller valleys branching off of it. We had fun exploring these coves and inlets. It narrows down to a rock-walled channel and passes under Interstate Highway 94, ending in a dam and spillway. (Dams really freak me out, so we stopped well short of this. My husband and daughter wanted to get closer, but I had hysterics until they turned the boat around!) While we were turning around my daughter noticed this rock art. Looks like someone had some fun!

The lake was very calm and glassy, although in the narrower areas it had a current.

Cottages and vacation homes with boat houses line one side of the lake but aren’t too intrusive. Most of them were only visible because the trees aren’t leafed out yet. The lake is “no wake” so you mostly have people like us paddling or fishermen going slow. It was very peaceful.

Some of the birds we saw were anything but peaceful! We saw two kingfishers loudly fighting for territory (we saw a total of three kingfishers during our time on the lake) in the channel leading to the dam.  We also saw a barred owl, a bald eagle, a great blue heron, two cranes, and lots of blue jays, tiny wading shore birds, mallard ducks, Canadian geese, and some kind of swallow.  We were able to get quite close to many of these birds because of the quietness of the canoe. We also saw three muskrat at dusk.

There were very few bugs out on the lake, but if you visit later in the season be sure to bring along mosquito repellent if you are going to spend any time on land. The fall colors are beautiful in this park, and we will definitely be back to explore the other half of the lake! Begonia

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