Sign up for our weekly feature on State Natural Areas - direct to your inbox.
- Natural areas
- Contact information
- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program South Bluff/Devil's Nose (No. 97)
Within Devil's Lake State Park, Sauk County. T11N-R6E, Sections 23-27, 34, 35, 36. T11N-R7E, Sections 29, 30, 31. 3,480 acres.
South Bluff/Devil's Nose encompasses a huge expanse of the forested southern flank of the Baraboo Hills and provides habitat for numerous rare plants and animals. The majority of the site is southern mesic and dry-mesic forest of sugar maple, red oak, white oak, basswood, and hickories. Within the site is Pine Glen, a deep spectacular gorge cut into the Baraboo quartzite. On its south slope is a small cedar glade and dry prairie that have unusual floras including rare species such as tubercled orchid (Platanthera flava), slender bush-clover (Lespedeza virginica), and purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens). Cold air drainage at the lower end of Pine Glen harbors northern plant species such as white pine, oak fern, yellow blue-bead-lily, and rosy twisted stalk that thrive in the cool ravine. Also in the area is spring-fed Messenger Creek, which occupies an ancient valley, cut into the Precambrian Baraboo quartzite. The rich wooded area contains yellow birch, eastern hop-hornbeam, and ironwood and is rich in mosses and uncommon ferns. One of the primary features of the natural area is the presence of several uncommon to rare plant species including drooping sedge (Carex prasina), Hooker's orchid (Platanthera hookerii), nodding pogonia (Triphora trianthophora), and one-flowered broomrape (Orobanche uniflora). The site also harbors many rare birds including worm-eating (Helmitheros vermivorus), hooded (Wilsonia citrina) and cerulean warblers (Dendroica cerulea), and Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens). Also present is the rare arrowhead spiketail (Cordulegaster obliquus). South Bluff/Devil's Nose is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1972.
From the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and State Highway 136 in West Baraboo, go east (south) on 12 4 miles, then east on Ski Hi Road 1.2 miles, then south (right) on South Shore Road 0.2 mile, then south on Burma Road 1.5 miles to its end. Or from the intersection of Burma and South Shore Road, continue on South Shore Road 0.6 miles to a parking area south of the road. Walk west along Messenger Creek into the site.
South Bluff/Devil's Nose 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 reserve for southern dry-mesic/mesic forest, pine relict, and bedrock glade, as a significant geological site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and limited prescribed fire will determine the structure of the natural communities of this site. Provide opportunities for research and education on a high quality native southern dry-mesic/ mesic forests, pine relicts, bedrock glades and geological features.
The native species on the bedrock glade (primarily oaks) are managed in a mostly passive manner. However, some thinning of the canopy, understory manipulation and shrub control via brushing or a limited application of fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. In the southern dry-mesic to mesic forest, the native species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the site. The forest will be allowed to convert over time to a more mesic forest condition. Other allowable activities include control of invasive plants and animals, and access to suppress wildfires.
- Although removal of hazardous trees over Burma Road and trails is an allowed activity, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance should be minimized to the extent possible.
- The bedrock glade is fragile (particularly the lichens that are found there). Since trampling of lichens presents a threat to this community, public use is preferably limited to researchers and small education groups.
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, 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]