- Natural areas
- Contact information
- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Wyalusing Hardwood Forest (No. 5)
Within Wyalusing State Park, Grant County. T6N-R6W, Sections 15, 16, 22. 403 acres.
Wyalusing Hardwood Forest occupies the steep sides and top of a ridge just east of the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers and contains four major southern forest types illustrating John Curtis’ classic concept of a vegetation continuum. The wooded bluffs rise more than 400 feet above the Wisconsin River and provide a variety of exposures over different bedrock types including Prairie du Chien and Platteville-Galena dolomites and St. Peter sandstone. The major soil types, Fayette and Seaton silt loams, developed in loess. The river bottoms have wet-mesic forest dominated by silver maple. Upslope there are areas of mesic, dry-mesic, and dry forest. The groundlayer species are equally diverse, changing in composition with change in microclimate. Nesting birds are characteristic of locations much farther south. Rare birds include cerulean (Dendroica cerulea), prothonotary (Protonotaria citrea) and Kentucky warblers (Oporornis formosus), Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens), Louisiana waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla). Also present are blue-gray gnatcatcher and tufted titmouse. The forest was dedicated to Dr. John T. Curtis in May 1966. Wyalusing Hardwood Forest is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1952.
From the intersection of Highways 18 and 60 in Bridgeport, go east on 18 about 1.2 miles, then west on County Highway C 3.1 miles, then west on County Highway X just over one mile, then north into Wyalusing State Park on the park road 0.4 miles to the visitor center. Pay the admission fee and get a park map. Continue 0.9 mile along the road to the trail head for the Sand Cave Trail on the east side of the road. Although the trail approaches to within 1/4 mile of the western boundary of the natural area, there are no trails to or within the natural area itself. Use a GPS unit or detailed map and compass to navigate to the site.
Wyalusing Hardwood Forest is owned by:
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.
Manage the site as a southern forest reserve with a continuum from dry forest to floodplain forest, as an ecological reference area, and as a significant archaeological site. Natural processes will determine the structure of the forest.
Native species are managed passively, allowing nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the site. Exceptions include control of invasive plants and animals, and maintenance of existing facilities. Salvage of trees after a major wind event is not considered compatible with management objectives.
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.
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.
- Cross country skiing
- Horseback riding
- Rock climbing
- Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use
- 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
- Camping and campfires
For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]