Straight Lake State Park, where you can find serenity, seclusion, and solitude. This park is a gem for those looking to get away from the crowds and enjoy the beauty of Wisconsin. There are endless places in the park to find a spot to sit and listen to the birds, the crickets, and gentle rustling of the leaves. You know what you can’t hear? Cars! Not only is the park far enough away from the highway to not hear that background noise, there are no motorized vehicles allowed in the park past the parking lots. What a wonderful park to find some peace and quiet.
If you are looking for a place with more access with motorized vehicles check out Interstate State Park. It’s about 30 minutes southwest. It allows cars to drive in, has a boat launch that you can drive to, and is right next to the highway for easy access. It also has great hiking trails and numerous areas to rock climb. If you are traveling further and want to read more about other Wisconsin State Parks, check out my list here.
A brief History of Straight Lake
Straight Lake State park is over 2,000 acres. It is also adjacent to a state wild life area which nearly doubles its size. Straight Lake became a Wisconsin State park in 2005. It used to be a boy scout camp so there are plenty of well trodden paths and well established trails. There are also walk ways and boardwalks which help to protect the area.
Parking and motorized vehicles
Motorized vehicles are allowed into the parking lots, but no further! Get ready to hike in the peaceful quiet because where you’re going, there are no roads! It was so wonderful to simply sit and enjoy this park, it made me feel like I was much farther from civilization that I actually was. There are two small parking areas but no roads that go into the park. There is one parking lot in the middle of the campground and another parking lot a bit farther east called the picnic area parking. Neither bikes nor horses are allowed at Straight Lake State Park.
If your plan is hiking, park in the picnic area parking lot on the south east side of the park. Rainbow Lake Trail is a nice challenging one mile loop with beautiful views of the lake. High Point trail is another one mile loop trail that you can access from the parking area.
There is a rather photographic and fun rock crossing at a river that seems to pop up often on articles and posts about this park. If you are looking for it, Take the Rainbow Lake Trail North towards the Ice Age Trail. Take a left on the Ice Age trail and follow it along for a few minutes and you can’t miss the rock crossing.
The Ice Age Trail is in Straight Lake State Park for 5.5 miles. If you haven’t heard of the Ice Age Trail or are looking for more information check out the Ice Age Trail Alliance. The trail is one of very few National Scenic Trails in the Country and this trail is completely within Wisconsin!
Enjoying the Water
There are two lakes in the park, Straight Lake and Rainbow Lake. Both can be accessed by boat via carry in access only. The closest place to put a kayak/canoe in is Rainbow Lake. It is only 100 yards or so from the Picnic Area Parking lot. There is a nice fishing pier here as well. Rainbow Lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout every year and they can be harvested from May to March. Don’t forget to grab a fishing license if you are over 15.
There are two launches for Straight Lake. One from the Picnic Area Parking lot which is about 300 yards on a grassy road from the parking lot. The other is about 750 yards from the west parking lot. The site advertised courtesy dollies for boats but I didn’t see any at the Picnic area parking lot. Straight Lake is also a great place to fish and has bass, northern pike, and panfish.
Straight Lake State Park is a great place to camp in the peace and quiet and one of the few Wisconsin State Parks that has hike-in only, rustic campsites. All ten campsites require a short hike to get to them and there are ofcourse, no generators allowed. All spots are at least 400 feet apart ensuring privacy. The closest site is about 400 feet from the parking area and the farthest is about 1/3 mile. This isn’t car camping but it’s a very reasonable distance to hike in if privacy and quiet is important to you. There are vault toilets near both parking areas but no showers and you have to bring your own water. The sites do need a reservation.
Even winter this park maintains it’s natural feel. The trails are not groomed or packed. Hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing is allowed anywhere in the park but you have to break your own trail. Ice fishing is also allowed but no combustion powered ice augers are allowed so the peaceful silence is maintained.
Nearby Activities and Food
The small town of Luck, Wisconsin is about 10 minutes south west of the park. It has a selection of small town eateries. Try checking out the The Main Dish or the family owned Red Maple Eatery for breakfast or lunch or Cafe Wren for coffee or bakery items. You can drive 15 minutes south west and check out The Milltown Drive in for burgers and a vintage feel. You can check out Julia’s Java or Lumbar Jack’s Saloon and Pizzeria as well.
If you are looking for more local activities check out my post on Interstate State Park in St Croix Falls. It’s less than 30 minutes south west and has a lot of options!
This is the park to go if you want to avoid people and man made noise. It’s not near a big city or even a big town so you have to go a little out of your way to get to it. The reward for traveling to this rustic park is a rustic and raw park feeling. You can find solitude and silence. You can enjoy these tranquil peaceful and pristine lakes without noise pollution. It’s worth the drive, check it out.