Nelson Lake, Wisconsin, USA
With its undeveloped shoreline and beautiful water, Nelson Lake joins the other Hayward Lakes as a fantastic Wisconsin destination. Historically there wasn’t much logging or farming in the part of Sawyer County around Nelson Lake. So rather than growing from a utilitarian need, Nelson Lake was always intended for recreation. The lake was named after Frank O. Nelson who proposed building a dam in 1934 to create…
Keep scrolling to read more.
Welcome to the ultimate guide to Nelson Lake! Article topics include:
- All About Nelson Lake
- Where to Stay
- Vacation Planning Tools
- Things to Do
- Known Fish Species
- Nelson Lake Map
- Statistics / Weather / Helpful Links
- Nelson Lake Gifts
Looking for Nelson Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.
All About Nelson Lake, WI
With its undeveloped shoreline and beautiful water, Nelson Lake joins the other Hayward Lakes as a fantastic Wisconsin destination. Historically there wasn’t much logging or farming in the part of Sawyer County around Nelson Lake. So rather than growing from a utilitarian need, Nelson Lake was always intended for recreation. The lake was named after Frank O. Nelson who proposed building a dam in 1934 to create a recreation and wildlife area. Mr. Nelson did not live to see the dam completed, but when it was finished the Totagatic Dam on the Totagatic River created Nelson Lake. The lake and dam are owned by Sawyer County. The Totagatic Flowage is right next to Nelson Lake making it easy to fish or boat on both.
About 50 percent of Nelson Lake’s shore is undeveloped. There are a few floating bogs and sixteen islands. Big Island has been named a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource Land Legacy Site. The half of the lake that is developed has resorts, private homes and boat launches and marinas. The area around Nelson Lake has trails for snow mobiling, cross country skiing, hiking, and biking. There are campgrounds and in the winter there is ice fishing.
Nelson Lake has abundant populations of walleye, northern pike, large mouth bass, crappie, blue gill and perch. Sawyer County has plenty of lakes and the Hayward Lakes which include Grindstone Lake, Round Lake, Lac Court Oreilles, and the Chippewa flowage are all full of fish. Add in trout streams and rivers and anglers are sure to find more fish than they can catch. When they are not fishing anglers and the rest of the family can check out the National Freshwater Fishing Museum in nearby Hayward. Visitors can stand in the mouth of the 143 foot long 41 foot tall musky that holds the museum and read about the ones that didn’t get away.
Sawyer County is also home to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and a trip to Nelson Lake should include a visit. The Chequamegon side is over 800,000 acres of Wisconsin Northwoods, and there are trails for hiking, biking, and horse back riding as well as plenty of room to camp and explore. Every year the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest hosts the American Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Race. The three day race draws thousands of skiers and spectators from all over. Visitors also come to the national forest for the annual Chequamegon Fat Tire Bike Race. The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway also runs through Sawyer County near Hayward. The riverway is 252 miles of the St. Croix and Namakagon Rivers to explore by canoe or kayak. Hayward has restaurants, shopping, museums, and various accommodations. There are also several golf courses and in fact Hayward is known as the golf capitol of Wisconsin.
With all that Nelson Lake and the Hayward Lakes have to offer, it is sure to be a destination to please the whole family. It is truly a place that is intended for both wildlife and recreation.
Things to Do at Nelson Lake
These are some activities in the Nelson Lake, WI area visitors can enjoy:
- Vacation Rentals
- Ice Fishing
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Horseback Riding
- Wildlife Viewing
- National Forest
What Kind of Fish Are in Nelson Lake?
Nelson Lake has been known to have the following fish species:
- Largemouth Bass
- Northern Pike
Find Places to Stay at Nelson Lake
If you’re considering a Nelson Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.
Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase. Read our full disclosure policy here.
More Sites to Book a Nelson Lake Vacation
Our interactive Nelson Lake lodging map above is an easy tool for comparing VRBO rental homes and nearby hotels with Booking.com, but there could be times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodations. Here are some other lake lodging partners we recommend:
Nelson Lake Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: Sawyer County
Surface Area: 2,503 acres
Shoreline Length: 31 miles
Average Depth: 10 feet
Maximum Depth: 33 feet
Water Volume: 38,000 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1940
Lake Area-Population: 2,129
Drainage Area: 54 sq. miles
We strive to keep information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. If you’ve found something here that needs updating, please touch base by filling out our Content Correction form.
Shop Nelson Lake Gifts
More Nelson Lake news from LakeLubbers.com
- Advertise your vacation rental property or local business: DETAILS HERE
- The Nelson Lake forum has been discontinued: HERE’S WHY
- New Nelson Lake photos coming soon!
- You’re invited to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!
- Share this Nelson Lake article with your fellow LakeLubbers: