The Secret Passageway from Bony Lake to Middle Eau Claire Lake, NW WI

The Secret Passageway from Bony Lake to Middle Eau Claire Lake

This is the first in an occasional series of blog posts answering an important question: “Sure, the map shows a connection between the Eau Claire lakes. And the fishing guidebook says there’s a ‘navigable channel.’ But can I really get there from here?”

When you’re looking for a lake home or cabin, this can be important information—especially if you’re interested in a chain of interconnected lakes like the Eau Claire lakes in Wisconsin’s Douglas and Bayfield counties. These secret passageways mean you may be able to live on a smaller, quieter lake—or even on a gently flowing river—and yet still have easy access to a larger lake nearby. It’s fun to explore new lakes without the hassle of loading your boat on a trailer, and the next lake over might be just around the bend and under a bridge.

But how easy is it to get there from here? The answer, of course, is “it depends.” First, it depends on the size of your boat. How much water does it draw, how wide is it, and how tall is it? If your boat has an awning or visor, can it be folded down? In some cases, the weather and the time of year can even make a difference. If the water is too low, there won’t be enough water to float your boat. Too high, and you may not have quite enough headroom under a bridge. So your mileage, as they say, may vary. Keep your speed down, and proceed with caution.

Although we’ve scouted these routes by canoe, most are navigable in a fishing boat, a small to medium runabout, or even a pontoon. If it turns out that one or two are not, I’ll let you know. In some photos you’ll see larger motorized craft moving under a route’s lowest bridge or through its narrowest narrows. You’ll also be able to tell a lot from the size of the boats pulled up alongside the docks in these channels.

Channel between Bony Lake and Middle Eau Claire Lake

Channel between Bony Lake and Middle Eau Claire Lake

I’m beginning this series with the connection between 191-acre Bony Lake and 902-acre Middle Eau Claire Lake in Bayfield County, WI. I’ve just listed this beautiful timber-frame lake home on Bony Lake, and not everyone knows about the secret passageway between these two lakes. If you’re looking for a luxury home on the Eau Claire chain of lakes, then this one should definitely be on your list. (At the moment, I also have other homes available at a range of price points on Lower, Middle, and Upper Eau Claire Lakes.)

So here it is… The no-longer-secret passageway from Bony Lake to Middle Eau Claire Lake, complete with photos. At most water levels it’s navigable by canoe, kayak, fishing boat, and small to medium-sized runabout. Some stretches are shallow, so proceed with caution.

Starting from the southwest corner of Bony Lake, head into the outlet shown at the beginning of this post. The channel widens out, and then you’ll pass under highway 27. Sone thereafter, you’ll be able to glimpse Middle Eau Claire Lake through the trees. The final stretch is through a short breakwater that prevents erosion and helps keep the channel open. It’s a little like the shipping channel at Duluth’s Canal Park, but on a slightly smaller scale.

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