Laura Lake Campground – Wisconsin
Nestled along the east boarder of the Nicolet National Forest lies a wonderful spot to camp called Laura Lake Campground. It was the second of two campgrounds that we stayed at during our 10 day camping trip last year. We wanted to visit this campground specifically because it was one of the highest recommended places in the book, The Best in Tent Camping – Wisconsin. After arriving and picking our campsite, we quickly realized why this campground had come so highly recommended and it wasn’t long before we dubbed it one of the best campgrounds we have been to so far.
Like many of the other Nicolet National Forest campgrounds, this one is out in the middle of nowhere. The nearest town is about a 15 minute drive and it has a couple of gas stations, a couple of bars, and that’s about it. The location makes it ideal to enjoy camping at its best. There isn’t a noisy highway nearby and there aren’t even a lot of houses nearby either. It is tucked away in a forest, away from civilization, like a good campground should be.
Keep in mind that this is a National Forest and not a State/National Park. One of the differences between the two is that there are not a lot of natural or historic features to explore. It’s just a humble forest with two beautiful lakes, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it isn’t worth visiting. It is a great place to camp. The two lakes that are located at the campground are Gordon Lake and Laura Lake. Both are beautiful lakes with crystal clear water. I have never visited a lake quite like these. They are beautifully clean; clear of pollution and they don’t even have thick plant growth or murky waters. While we were kayaking around Laura Lake, there wasn’t a single spot that I didn’t want to jump in the water and swim around. And there is actually a designated spot for swimming at Gordon Lake. Both lakes are surrounded by forest and seem to be popular with fisherman. Only electric motors are allowed on Laura Lake though, so that makes it a great paddling lake. Both lakes have boat ramps. In addition to the lakes there is a hiking trail (about 2 miles long) that goes around Laura Lake. It takes you along the shoreline and the forest. It is a great hike to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery.
The campsites are spacious and well spaced from each other. They are lined up along the south edge of Laura Lake and most sites are less than 100 feet from the water. They have dirt floors and plenty of shade. There are three loops of campsites. Each has their own pit toilets and pump for water. The pit toilets were decent and the water from the pump is clean and makes great drinking water.
If you plan to camp here, be prepared. Make sure you have the gear you need, because the closest city is quite a drive. The gas stations have some supplies, but not a lot. We had our first flat tire with our Honda Element while we were camping at Laura Lake. In order to get a replacement tire we had to drive about an hour to Iron Mountain, Michigan. Even though we had to take the out-of-the-way trip, it was still worth camping this far from civilization. The lack of traffic and people in the area was really refreshing.
There are 41 total campsites. Loop 1 consists of sites 1-15. This loop is probably the most open of the three. There is not much brush or privacy between the sites and this seemed to be a popular loop with the RVs. Loop 1 is also the closest to the water. A few campers had their boats on the shore right up next to their campsite. Loop 2 consists of sites 16-26. In my opinion this was the best loop. It is surrounded by thicker forest than loop 1, but it is still relatively close to the water. It was very easy for us to carry our kayaks the 75 feet or so from our campsite to the water. Loop 3 consists of sites 27-41. it is a little further away from the other two loops and is located around a small incline. The sites on loop 3 had the best privacy, but were also the furthest distance from the water. No matter what kind of camping you like to do, you should be able to find a spot that you like. Also, keep in mind that this is a popular camping spot on the weekends. During Memorial Day weekend the campground had pretty much filled up. On the weekdays though, it was relatively open.
We ended up staying at site 18. This was a large site that was for tents only (Site 20 is like this as well). It has a small area to park your vehicle and then there is a set of stairs that takes you down to your campsite. There was plenty of room to set up our tent, park the kayaks, and set up the hammock. The site was surrounded by forest and a nice breeze could be felt from the nearby lake. Even though we were close to the lake, I was surprised to find a lack of mosquitoes. I think we might have seen a few, but that was it. However, there was a noticeable amount of spiders in this area. Not enough that you should avoid this campground, but just be prepared to brush them off the table in the morning. Overall, we loved our campsite so much that we ended up skipping the last campsite that we were going to go to and just spent the rest of the week at Laura Lake.
The Nicolet National Forest brochure describes the campground the best, “If you could create a perfect campground what would it include? For setting, maybe it should lie between two beautiful lakes. Of course, the lakes would be clear, with good fishing and excellent swimming. There would need to be a trail circling one of those beautiful lakes for scenic walks. And naturally, there would be no development on either lake. Sound perfect? Don’t bother creating it. It already exists at Laura Lake.”