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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program High Cliff Escarpment (No. 176)

High Cliff Escarpment

Photo by Josh Mayer

Resource links:

High Cliff State Park


Overview

Location

Within High Cliff State Park, Calumet County. T19N-R18E, Sections 1 NW¼, 2 SE¼. 124 acres.

Description

Description

High Cliff Escarpment features both shaded and exposed cliff habitats along the Niagara escarpment, talus slopes supporting wet-mesic forest, more than a mile of Lake Winnebago shoreline, and outstanding examples of conical and effigy mounds in the level woodland above the escarpment. High Cliff gets its name from the limestone cliff of the Niagara Escarpment, which parallels the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago. This ledge extends northeasterly to the Door County peninsula and on to Niagara Falls, New York. At the escarpment summit are vertical cliffs up to 25 feet high that contain fragile fern, bulblet fern, leaf cup, cliff stickseed, and long-beaked sedge. The talus slope below the cliff is composed chiefly of small, flat rocks, although some areas of large limestone boulders occur, and many seepages emanate from the rocks. The undisturbed forest on the slope is composed of sugar maple, basswood, white ash, green ash, elm, hackberry, and butternut. Closer to the lake, willows and cottonwood gradually appear. A rich herbaceous layer includes wild ginger, great water-leaf, false rue anemone, squirrel-corn, toothwort, and Canada violet. High Cliff Escarpment is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1982.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 10 and 114 in Menasha, go east on 10/114 3.4 miles, then southeast on Highway 114 1.6 miles, then south on State Park Road 2.3 miles, then southwest on Spring Hill Road 0.2 mile to the Park office. Get a park map. The Lime-Kiln hiking trail provides access into the natural area. A STATE PARK STICKER IS REQUIRED.

Ownership

High Cliff Escarpment is owned by:

  • WDNR

Maps

The DNR's state natural areas program is comprised of lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions and private individuals. While the majority of SNAs are open to the public, access may vary according to individual ownership policies. Public use restrictions may apply due to public safety, or to protect endangered or threatened species or unique natural features. Lands may be temporarily closed due to specific management activities. Users are encouraged to contact the landowner for more specific details.

The data shown on these maps have been obtained from various sources, and are of varying age, reliability, and resolution. The data may contain errors or omissions and should not be interpreted as a legal representation of legal ownership boundaries.

Objectives

Site objectives

Manage the site as a reserve for moist cliff and talus forest, as a rare animal protection site, as a significant geological site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed fire will determine the structure of the natural communities of this site. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality moist cliff and talus forest communities.

Management approach

The native moist cliff and talus forest species are managed passively. Exceptions include control of invasive plants and animals, maintenance of existing facilities, and access to suppress wildfires. Salvage of trees after a major wind event can occur if the volume of woody material negatively impacts trails and access.

Site-specific considerations

  • Although removal of hazardous trees from over and near trails and field roads is an allowed activity, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance should be minimized to the extent possible.

Recreation

Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for a variety of recreational activities as indicated below. Generally, there are no picnic areas, restrooms, or other developments. Parking lots or designated parking areas are noted on individual SNA pages and maps. Trails, if present, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map and/or under the "Access" tab. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

Allowable activities

In general, the activities listed below are allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted under the "Access" tab above and posted with signs on site.

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping

Prohibited activities

  • Camping and campfires
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material, alive or dead. Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
  • Collecting of plants including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
  • Drone use, unless authorized by a SNA research permit
  • Geocaching
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]

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Last revised: Tuesday, October 03, 2017