- Natural areas
- Contact information
- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Houghton Falls (No. 638)
Bayfield County. T49N-R4W, Section 27. 76 acres.
Houghton Falls protects a picturesque pre-Cambrian sandstone gorge along the Lake Superior shore. The dramatic sandstone cliffs extend into the clear waters of Lake Superior, affording views of the Apostle Islands. The gorge is shaded by second-growth hemlock, yellow birch, white cedar, along with a few, large white pine. Along the upper canyon are cliff shelves that have protected, and still support Canada yew, a favored shrub of deer. At the north end of the ravine, overlooking Lake Superior, a series of sandstone points dominated by white and red pine, drop dramatically 15 feet to the water. A stream meanders through the site cascading over the exposed sandstone before descending over 60 feet into a rippled sandy cove at Lake Superior. Upstream is Echo Dells, a series of water-carved rock cliffs and caves interspersed with small waterfalls and a forested footpath. Echo Dells supports dense stands of hemlock to the south with yellow birch and mountain maple common. The understory includes intermediate wood fern, common polypody fern, long beech fern, thimbleberry, wood sorrel, and small enchanter's nightshade. Houghton Falls is also critical to numerous wildlife species. The waters off Houghton Point serve as a fish nursery and habitat area that contributes to the importance of the Chequamegon Bay as a fishing destination. The site is also important in maintaining unfragmented, undeveloped Lake Superior shoreline that supports many resident and migratory birds including bald eagle, marlin, least flycatcher, veery, wood thrush, and Canada warbler. Houghton Falls is owned by the Town of Bayview and was designated a State Natural Area in 2010.
From the intersection of Highway 13 and Washington Avenue in Washburn, go north on Highway 13 2.4 miles, then east on Houghton Falls Road 0.5 miles to the trailhead and parking area south of the road.
Houghton Falls is owned by:
- Village of Bayview
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.
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.
See the "Ownership" tab above to determine if this State Natural Area is DNR-owned, 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
Many State Natural Areas are owned by DNR partner organizations and agencies. See the "Ownership" tab above to determine ownership of this SNA. Allowable recreational uses on partner-owned sites, and the rules governing them, may differ from those permitted on DNR-owned SNAs. Specific rules, especially for hunting and trapping, vary depending on the partner’s policies, and some may require a special permit. More details regarding use of partner-owned SNAs may be available under the "Access" tab above. If this SNA is owned by a partner, a link to the partner website is found at the top of this page. Please contact partners directly for more information on activities allowed on this property.
- Horseback riding
- Rock climbing
- Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use
- Collecting of animals, 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]