- Nearby properties
- Brule River Cliffs SNA
- Fox Maple Woods SNA
- Grandma Lake Wetlands SNA
- Haley Creek Swamp SNA
- Hedmark Pines SNA
- Kieper Creek SNA
- Lauterman Lake SNA
- North Branch Pemebonwon Fishery Area
- Popple River Corridor SNA
- Robago-Sage Lakes SNA
- Spread Eagle Barrens SNA
- Wheeler Lake SNA
- Wisconsin Slough SNA
- Woods Creek SNA
- Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
- We Energies Wilderness Shores Recreation Area
- Florence County campgrounds
- Wild Rivers Legacy Forest
- Contact information
- For information on the Pine and Popple Wild Rivers, contact:
- Jeff Pennucci
Department of Natural Resources
- The Florence Natural Resource and Wild Rivers Interpretive Center
1-888-889-0049 (toll free)
- For emergencies, call 911 or:
- Forest County Sheriff
Florence County Sheriff
Wild RiversThe Pine and Popple Wild Rivers
The Pine and Popple Rivers offer a true wild experience, being among Wisconsin's more remote river systems. The area is rugged and undeveloped. Access is limited and often difficult.
The shorelines are heavily wooded with sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock and white cedar on the upper stretches and aspen, silver and red maple, white and jack pine the most common trees on the lower reaches. The rivers' moods alternate from quiet sections that meander lazily through lowland forest to swift rocky riffles, low rapids, and waterfalls. These rivers offer high quality paddling and fishing in a secluded, natural environment. Examples of other enjoyable opportunities along the rivers include hunting, hiking, bird watching, and photography. The rivers' greatest attractions are the miles of undeveloped river that allows everyone a chance to find their own special place.
The entire 89-mile length of the Pine River and the 62 miles of its major tributary, the Popple River, were designated by the Wisconsin legislature as State Wild Rivers in 1965 to be protected from development and kept in a natural, free-flowing condition. Being among Wisconsin's more remote river systems, the Pine and Popple Rivers offer a true wild experience. The area is rugged and undeveloped. Access is limited and often difficult.
Both the Pine and Popple Rivers are born in the vast forests and swamps of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Within the Forest boundary approximately 80% of the upper 56 miles of the Pine River and 58% of the upper 50 miles of the Popple River are in federal ownership.
Mid-way along their courses the rivers leave the national forest and enter the Pine-Popple Wild River project area managed by the DNR. The DNR's project area includes the lower 12 miles of the Popple River and the lower 33 miles of the Pine River, ending with the Pine at the Menominee River. At present, approximately 80% percent of the 12,000 acre project area is in public ownership, either the State or Florence County. The remainder is comprised of small privately owned tracts or property owned by We Energies.
Stewardship of the wild rivers is shared by all landowners along the river — small private landowners, commercial timber companies, and county, state, and federal governments. Also included are lands owned by We Energies in conjunction with their hydroelectric operations at the Pine River and Kingsford dams, which pre-dates wild river designation.
The lakes, rivers, and lands of the Pine-Popple Wild Rivers Project are popular for multiple uses, including canoeing, kayaking, tubing, sightseeing, fishing, hunting, camping, berry picking and other outdoor recreation activities. All publicly-owned lands are open for these uses.
The private property in the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest is under a conservation easement, open to the public for recreational uses including hiking, hunting, and fishing. Certain trails and roads across both public and private property are open for vehicle access, snowmobile and all-terrain vehicles as posted.
The We Energies lands are also open to the public, except for the areas near the dam and power generating facilities, which are closed for public safety and security reasons.
Many access sites on the upper Pine River are unimproved and do not offer off-road parking. Also, many gravel roads, like the Goodman Grade, are marginally improved or are unimproved, and poorly marked. A four-wheel drive vehicle, truck or other vehicle with high ground clearance is needed. Note: There is no bridge on the Goodman Grade at either the Pine River or Popple River.
The Pine and Popple Wild Rivers is located in southern Florence County in far northeastern Wisconsin. Access from the south is via either U.S. Highway 41 or 141 or State Highway 101; access from the west is via U.S. Highway 8 or State Highway 70. The property office is located in Florence.
Fires and Firewood
Firewood can harbor pests such as gypsy moths, emerald ash borer, and oak wilt that threaten the local forest. New regulations regarding the transport of firewood are aimed at stopping the threat. It is now illegal to bring firewood to this or any other state property from more than 10 miles away. It is also illegal to bring firewood from out of state. The following map link shows the range from which firewood may be transported to the Pine and Popple Wild Rivers.
Management on state-owned land along the rivers is designed to show as few traces of human intervention as possible. Except for limited walk-in canoe launch sites, developments are kept back from the river's edge. A "protection zone," managed to maintain and enhance a wild and natural condition, extends 150 feet back from the river's edge or to the visual horizon, whichever is greater. Lands more than 150 feet from the rivers are managed for forestry production, wildlife, and public recreational purposes. Except for road crossings, motorized vehicle access is restricted to designated areas outside of the protection zone. Through agreements with Florence County and the U.S. Forest Service, lands under their ownership along the Pine and Popple Rivers are managed under similar philosophies.
The Pine-Popple river shorelines are further protected from development impacts by Florence County's Wild River Ordinance. This ordinance regulates activities on lands within 400 feet of a wild river or the visual horizon, whichever is greater.
Integrated Property Management Meetings (IPMM's) are held annually by staff for all properties owned and managed by DNR. The meetings enable staff with property management responsibilities to accomplish multiple objectives - debriefing on the previous year's accomplishments, consideration of work planned for the upcoming year, and providing the opportunity for public feedback on planned management actions. See the IPMM report under the documents tab.
The Wild Rivers Legacy Forest
In 2006, the WDNR, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Forestry, LLC and Forest Investment Associates cooperatively acquired the "Wild Rivers Legacy Forest," comprised of 64,473 acres of forest, more than 48 lakes and ponds, and over 70 miles of rivers and streams in Florence, Forest, and Marinette Counties. This transaction added 2,580 acres along the Pine and Popple Rivers and a 3,030-acre wild lakes complex. Additionally, an innovative working forest conservation easement on adjacent property owned by CFFIA (LLC) will permanently keep the majority of this land open to the public for recreation and ensure that the forests remain healthy and diverse through applied sustainable forestry principles. Although open for some types of public use this easement area is still private property; if you are unsure about permissible activities, please contact the property owners.
The Savage-Robago Wild Lakes Complex
Savage, Robago, Mud, and Dorothy Lakes are undeveloped lakes in a wilderness setting with unimproved carry-in access. These lakes are important to eagles, osprey, and loons as well as other waterfowl and marsh birds, but fishery values are limited due to occasional winterkill. The DNR will manage the lakes and associated uplands for their natural and recreation values using the same management approach as the Wild Rivers property.
Submit Your Pictures for our Gallery
Submit your pictures of The Pine and Popple Wild Rivers by contacting:
Thank you Don Lintner, Nathan Ruble, Dave Wittlinger, Angie Arn, Teresa Pearson, Carol Holtz, and Scott Savage for submitting pictures for our gallery.