Three Lakes, WI

For more than a century, the Northwoods of Wisconsin have attracted travelers seeking the area’s outstanding fishing, boating, scenery, trails and welcoming people in a way that made them feel right at home. Today, the Northwoods of Wisconsin remains the Midwest’s most unique vacation destination.

The Three Lakes area can be a fantastic place to relocate to, raise a family, or retire. Below you will find some helpful links about our area and some of the local resources to make life in the Northwoods great.

The year-round resident population in Three Lakes in the 2010 census was 2,250. In the summer months when our seasonal residents come to spend the season that number can approach 7,500.


Three Lakes, Wisconsin was named for the three lakes the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company had to route around while attempting to plan a railroad through the Three Lakes region: Maple, Townline, and Range Line lakes. It formally became a town in 1881.

The early industry in the town was logging and forestry. Three Lakes and the rest of the Northwoods supplied wood to build Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. During that time, most of the area’s virgin forests were cleared and it was only in the 1930s that a process began to replant them. As a result of these replanting efforts, logging and forestry continue to be an important industry in Three Lakes.

As the logging industry moved out of the area, many of the cleared areas were converted to potato farms and agriculture became the community’s primary industry through the early 1900s. However, over time these family potato farms were replaced by larger corporate commercial enterprises, which are no longer in production.

Three Lakes began growing as a tourist and summer vacation destination in the late 1930s. The increasing availability of automobiles, combined with the roads that existed from the logging industry, made the lakes and forests of the Three Lakes area an attractive vacation destination. Tourism was the primary industry in Three Lakes beginning in the 1970s and continues to be today.

The town also has light manufacturing, a winery, an arts center and numerous retail businesses that have diversified its economy. The town has made substantial investments in developing high speed Internet and broadband capabilities.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 99.9 square miles (258.7 km2), of which 81.5 square miles (211.1 km2) is land and 18.4 square miles (47.6 km2) (18.40%) is water. The Eagle River flows through the town in a series of lakes.


The population in Three Lakes is 2,250. There are 27 people per square mile aka population density. The median age in Three Lakes is 59.3, the US median age is 37.4. The number of people per household in Three Lakes is 2.0, the US average of people per household is 2.6.

Family in Three Lakes

  • 68.5% are married
  • 11.0% are divorced
  • 13.8% are married with children
  • 1.5% have children, but are single

Race in Three Lakes

  • 98.0% are white
  • 0.0% are black
  • 0.6% are asian
  • 0.0% are native american
  • 0.0% claim Other
  • 1.4% claim Hispanic Ethnicity
  • 0.0% Two or More Races
  • 0.0% Hawaiian, Pacific Islander

In the town, the population was spread out, with 21.5% under the age of 18, 4.1% from 18 to 24, 22.0% from 25 to 44, 27.4% from 45 to 64, and 25.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $32,798, and the median income for a family was $38,098. Males had a median income of $31,638 versus $19,773 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,758. About 5.4% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.6% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.


Three Lakes residents enjoy easy access to U.S. Highway 45/State Trunk Highway 32 through the center of the community. These highways provide connections with Green Bay to the southeast and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the north.

The Three Lakes Airport is the finest grass strip in the entire Northwoods for private aviation. Pre-arranged shuttle flights provide commuter access to cities in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest. The Rhinelander/Oneida County Airport is just a quick thirty minute drive and has three daily flights for Minneapolis/St Paul International airport.

The Three Lakes snowmobile trail system encompasses 150 miles for trails plus 50 additional miles of lake trails that traverse the most scenic country that Wisconsin has to offer. The Kimball Trail (upper and lower) will take one through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and will provide connection to Viesand Forest county destinations. The southern trails lead to the Rhinelander, Monico, and Pelican Lake areas. Trails to the west and north give access to neighbors in Sugar Camp, St. Germain and Eagle River.


The Three Lakes School District covers 305 square miles and encompasses the Oneida County communities of Three Lakes, Sugar Camp, Hiles, Monico, Piehl, and Stella.

The Three Lakes School District is fortunate to have strong community support for its programs. The Board of Education, administration, faculty, staff and students continue to seek new avenues for community involvement to strengthen this tie.

The school district is comprised of 3 schools:

  • Three Lakes Elementary
  • Sugar Camp Elementary
  • Three Lakes Junior and Senior High School


Three Lakes is served by the Aspirus network. Aspirus is a non-profit, community-directed health system based in Wausau, Wisconsin. With more than 6,000 employees, Aspirus serves people in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan through an extensive hospital and clinic network, home health & hospice care, pharmacies, critical care, medical goods, nursing homes, a philanthropic & research foundation, and an affiliated physician network.

Other health-care providers in the area include:

  • Eagle River Memorial Hospital 
  • Marshfield Clinic in Eagle River 
  • Ministry Medical Group in Eagle River 
  • Allied Health of Wisconsin (Chiropractic) in Rhinelander 
  • Aspirus Clinic in Rhinelander 
  • Center Ministry Health Care/Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander 
  • Childcare Health Center in Rhinelander
  • Ministry Medical Group in Rhinelander 
  • Veterans Affairs Outreach Clinic in Rhinelander

Outdoor Points of Interest

Three Lakes offers excellent trails. Horse riders should head to the Bailey Lake Equestrian Trail, offering 15 miles of riding. The annual Nicolet Wheel-A-Way offers 40 miles of riding. The Sam Campbell Memorial Trail offers two miles of hiking, snowshoeing and biking. And, the Three Eagle Trail offers 8.5 miles of hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Downtown Three Lakes is charming, with a historic look and lots of shopping opportunities. You’ll find everything from hardware to gourmet chocolate.

The Three Lakes Winery offers tours to the public. You’ll learn about all steps of the winemaking process, from fermentation to bottling and labeling. Wine tastings are free and offered year-round.

Three Lakes is an important area for cranberry farming. There are several cranberry growers in the area. Tours at the James Lake Farms Organic Cranberry Marsh will give you insights into the culture and history of the cranberry.

Other area attractions include the Three Lakes Historical Museum, which offers seven buildings open to the public, including the 100-year-old Johnson House and a replica of a Civilian Conservation Corps barracks. The Northwoods Petroleum Museum is open year-round and houses an extensive collection of classic gas pumps, neon signs and promotional gas station giveaways.

The Three Lakes Center for the Arts Theater shows popular films and hosts live music performances. The Aqua Devils Ski Shows entertain audiences from mid-June through mid-August. TNT Speedway hosts racing on Saturday nights throughout the season. Play a round at the Big Stone Golf & Country Club.

Annual Three Lakes events include the Lions 4th of July Parade, North by Northwoods Music Crawl in September and Pumpkin Fest in October.

Great Lakes or Chains

Nestled in the midst of the Nicolet National Forest, Three Lakes offers an exceptional amount of water. In fact, with 28 lakes, the Three Lakes Chain of Lakes is the largest freshwater chain of lakes in the world and includes Big Lake and Big Stone Lake, two of the best fishing lakes in the Northwoods. Thunder Lake is another popular Three Lakes area fishing spot.

Fishing attracts many people to Three Lakes. In addition to the 28 lakes, anglers can access the Eagle River chain by way of the Burnt Rollways Dam & Boat Hoist, which has been taking boats between the two chains since 1911. Anglers can fish for musky, walleye, bass, panfish and northern pike.

Largest Inland Chain of Lakes in the World. The Three Lakes Chain is situated East of Highway 45 and North of Highway 8 and the popular small town of Three Lakes is located along the chain’s shoreline. This is known as the upper end of the chain due to the higher water level above the dam. 

Most of the 20 lakes in the Three Lakes Chain are fairly uniform in size.  The largest lake is Planting Ground Lake at 1012 acres and is 37 feet at its deepest. Again, from the luxurious Northernaire Resort to camping opportunities in the Chequamegon/Nicolet State Forest, there is a huge variety of vacation locations. Marinas, restaurants, and access to town shopping make for endless choices for boating adventures.

Three Lakes Chain consists of Long Lake, Planting Ground Lake, Range Line Lake, Townline Lake, Round Lake, Island Lake, Little Fork Lake, Big Fork Lake, Fourmile Lake, Medicine Lake, Laurel Lake, Spirit Lake, Big Stone Lake, Deer Lake, Crystal Lake, Dog Lake, Big Lake, Whitefish Lake, Virgin Lake

Others lakes includes Crooked Lake, Lone Stone Lake, Lower Ninemile Lake, Sevenmile Lake, Stella Lake, Thunder Lake.

Art Centers, Community Centers, and ETC

Three Lakes is home to the Three Lakes Center for the Arts, which was built by the Seabees during World War II as a Quonset hut theater. It is one of fewer than five Quonset hut theaters in the country. The building came to Three Lakes in 1946 and was completely renovated starting in 2009.

The Center houses an art gallery and a theater. The art gallery presents work from a rotating group of local and national artists, while the 100-seat theater presents first-run movies and live musical events. The center sponsors summer adult art classes taught by local and visiting artists. It works cooperatively with local schools, presenting performances for school students and offering free summer arts classes at Maple Lake Pavilion. The Three Lakes Center for the Arts also runs annual events such as Art on Main, Affair of the Arts, Pumpkin Fest, and Oktoberfest.

The Town Office is located inside the Municipal Building at 6965 West School Street in downtown Three Lakes. The town office complex is a multiuse facility housing the offices of clerk, secretary, town chairperson/supervisors and treasurer. There is also a Town Board meeting room, community meeting room, kitchen and space for the Three Lakes Christian Food Pantry, and offices and garage of the police department.

Average Home Price Sold

2018 Ave Price Sold: $272,347.58

2021 Ave Price Sold: $374,554.77

2023 Ave Price Sold: $569,267.23

To find out more about Onedia county and all the wonderful things that the Northwoods has to offer click here.