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Contact information
For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Peninsula Park Beech Forest (No. 12)

American beech canopy

Photo by Josh Mayer

Resource links:

Peninsula State Park



Within Peninsula State Park, Door County. T31N-R27E, Sections 14, 15, 22. 83 acres.



Peninsula Park Beech Forest features a continuum of forest types from the dry edge of the Niagara dolomite escarpment to rolling uplands forested with mesic species. The northern mesic forest is old second-growth, with sugar maple, American beech, hemlock, yellow birch, white birch, and ironwood; some trees are nearly 2 feet in diameter. Understory species include yellow blue-bead-lily, large-flowered trillium, red baneberry, Hooker's orchid, and bracted orchid. Relict red oak and white pine are scattered through the area. To the east, between Shore Road and the bluff edge, is a young northern dry-mesic forest dominated by red oak and white pine. The bluff drops 150 feet to several terraces, which are forested with white cedar and hardwoods. The base of the bluff along Green Bay supports many ferns including bulblet, fragile, polypody, slender cliff brake, walking, and marginal wood ferns. The beach is composed of dolomite cobblestones with little vegetation. Numerous mesic forest plants and animals are present along with several uncommon orchids. Noted University of Wisconsin plant ecologist John Curtis used this site as a representative northern mesic forest study site. Peninsula Park Beech Forest is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1952.


Driving directions

From Ephraim, go south on State Highway 42 about 1 mile to the north entrance to Peninsula State Park. Follow Shore Road north to the Eagle Tower parking area. Access to the natural area is via Shore Road, Highland Road, or the Sentinel Hiking Trail, which forms the northern boundary of the site. A Wisconsin State Park sticker must be displayed on all vehicles entering the park.


Peninsula Park Beech Forest is owned by:

  • WDNR


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.


Site objectives

Manage the site as a northern mesic forest reserve and an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the forest.

Management approach

Native species are managed passively, allowing nature to determine the ecological characteristics. 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.

Site-specific considerations

  • Peninsula Park Beech Forest features a continuum of forest types from the dry edge of the Niagara dolomite escarpment to rolling uplands forested with mesic species. Although northern mesic forest is the dominant cover type, management objectives and systems should allow for dry and dry-mesic forest zones as well.
  • Site is within Peninsula State Park. Access is via park trails. Manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance should be minimized when maintaining park trails within State Natural Area.


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: Friday, December 15, 2017