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Recreation Outdoors

5 of Our Biggest Local Lakes

Tom Giffey |

Lake Wissota (shown here with its plaque)
Lake Wissota (shown here with its plaque)

1. Lake Wissota

At 6,300 acres, Lake Wissota is by far the largest lake in the Chippewa Valley. And it’s literally in the Chippewa Valley: It was created in 1917 by the construction of a hydroelectric dam, so the lake exists in lowland originally carved by the river. Because of the adjacent state park, numerous boat landings, and plentiful fish, it’s also one of the area’s most popular lakes.

2. Holcombe Flowage

Like its downstream cousin, Lake Wissota, the Holcombe Flowage (or, if you prefer, Lake Holcombe) was formed by a hydroelectric dam on the Chippewa River. Depending on which source you trust, the flowage covers either 3,890 or 2,881 acres in Chippewa and Rusk counties. If you’re willing to sponsor an expedition to one of the lakeside resorts, we’d be happy to double-check the measurements.

3. Old Abe Lake

Didn’t know that Wisconsin’s most famous feathered warrior had a namesake lake? Now you do. Old Abe Lake is a 470-acre flowage formed by a dam on the Chippewa River in Jim Falls. Come to pedal the Old Abe Trail, to check out the Old Abe statue, or to fish for the abundant walleye you’ll find in these waters.

This guy knows how to enjoy 154 acres of lake water. (Half Moon Lake)
Now, this guy knows how to enjoy 154 acres of lake water. (Half Moon Lake)

4. Tainter Lake

At 1,752 acres, Tainter Lake is the largest body of water in Dunn County. It takes its name from lumber baron Andrew Tainter, who was behind the decision to build a mill and dam along the Red Cedar River. While the lake is sometimes used for recreation and fishing, phosphorous pollution typically turns it green in the summer.

5. Half Moon Lake

This oxbow-shaped lake, which encircles Carson Park in the middle of Eau Claire, was originally a curve in the Chippewa River that was cut off eons ago when the flowing water decided to take a shortcut. While it’s the only “lake” in the city of Eau Claire, at 154 acres it’s only one-fifth the size of Dells Pond. (And you thought ponds were always smaller than lakes, didn’t you?)