Gibbs Lake Park

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Why does a local government create parks? Is a park a place to play or explore wilderness?

Wisconsin Map Highlight Rock County
Rock County, Wisconsin. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Gibbs Lake County park is a county park in Rock County located in southern Wisconsin. The park is 299 acres in size, and encloses around 3/4 of the shoreline of Gibbs Lake and the north half of the shoreline of Little Gibbs Lake. The entrance is approximately 0.5 miles on the left side of the park. The park has two lakes: Gibbs Lake and Little Gibbs Lake. It is the largest park in Rock County, and includes shoreline of Gibbs Lake and Little Gibbs lake. The park includes a beach launch on the northern shore of Gibbs Lake and a series of marked trails that can be used for horseback riding, hiking and cross-country skiing. Within the boundary of the park, there are forested areas, prairie, and swamp land.

Gibbs Lake Park is also a part of the Wisconsin Ice Age trail.


Rock County purchased the land for the park in December of 1966. The Gibbs Lake Park Bridle Path was constructed in 1983 with the help of the help of the Tri-County Riders Club and would be later be maintained by the Golden Riders Club in 2002. They are continuing to do so.


The two lakes that make up Gibbs Lake Park are Gibbs Lake, and Little Gibbs Lake.

Gibbs Lake

The native species of the park and the area in general include Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginia), primarily in southern Wisconsin; Eastern Arborvitae or White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis), primarily in northern and eastern Wisconsin; White Spruce (Picea glauca), primarily northern Wisconsin, and Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).

The invasive species that inhabit this lake include Curly-Leaf Pondweed, Eurasian Water-Milfoil, Hybrid Eurasian / Northern Water-Milfoil, Phragmites (non-native to the area).

Gibbs Lake is a popular, early-season fishing spot for Northern pike, bass and pan fish. Pan fish are common in both Gibbs and abundant in Little Gibbs Lake. The shallow lake is also good for wading and boating. Gibbs Lake becomes more difficult to fish due to weed growth. The lake itself is 73 acres and 23 feet deep. There is public boat landing which allows small boats and canoes to enter the lake.

Little Gibbs Lake

Little Gibbs Lake is a popular fishing destination. Panfish are abundant in the lake, but the lake also has a Large mouth bass and Northern Pike population. The area of the lake is near Pondweed. It is about 12 acres and is about 18 feet deep at its deepest. The main invasive species inside the lake are Curly-Leaf. Little Gibbs Lake is relatively inaccessible, because it is separated from the rest of the park by a red elderberry swamp, and is the only way to enter Little Gibbs Lake.


Parking for horse trailers is permitted in the equestrian parking lot only. Other ammenities amenities include restrooms, picnic, tables, trails, boat, launch, cross country, skiing, snowshoeing, scenic, views, wooded, free parking, and pets are allowed. The park includes a boach launch on the northern shore of Gibbs Lake and a series of marked trails that can be used for horseback riding, hiking and cross country skiing. Drinking water and grills are also available.


[1] [2] [3] [4]

  1. <1."Janesville Wisconsin's Great Outside," 2017,>
  2. <2."County Adds 15th Park Site," (Janesville, WI, Janesville Daily Gazette, 1967) p.4c, accessed December 12, 2017, Rock County Historical Society./>
  3. <3."Rock County Parks Gibbs Lake," 2017,>
  4. <4."Rock County our Story," (Janesville, WI, Rock County Your Story, November, 2017), accessed December 3, 2017, Word Press./>

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