Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area: Thomas Meyer

Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area
Thomas Meyer

December 2013

Wisconsin, naturally

Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area

Thomas A. Meyer, State Natural Areas Program

Notable: Castle Mound is a long, narrow, weathering butte of 400–million–year–old Cambrian sandstone rising 180 feet above the surrounding sand plain. The variety of exposures and microclimates has resulted in contrasting forest communities on opposing sides of the east-west mound. Exposed and shaded cliffs up to 30–feet high occur along a central backbone ridge, while huge sandstone boulders litter the sloping forest floor. These rocks offer habitat for lichens, mosses and other microflora. The protected northeast slope is forested with a mixed pine forest of white and red pines including Hill’s oak, white oak, paper birch, red maple and large-toothed aspen. Ground layer species typical of the northern forest grow here, including pipsissewa, large–leaved aster, partridge berry and wintergreen. The dry southwest face is wooded with jack pine and oak. Red-breasted nuthatch, solitary vireo, black–throated green warbler and pine warbler are among the northern bird species observed in this 118-acre natural area.

How to get there: Within the Black River State Forest. From the intersection of Highways 27 and 12 on the south side of Black River Falls, go east on Highway 12 for about 0.7 miles to the entrance to Castle Mound campground, then west on the access road to the picnic area parking lot. A trail leads through the site to an observation tower near the center of the mound. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search “Castle Mound Pine Forest” for a map and more information.