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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Coffey Swamp (No. 276)

Coffey Swamp

Photo by Door County Land Trust



On Washington Island, Door County. T34N-R30E, Sections 29, 30. 189 acres.



Coffey Swamp occupies a former embayment of Lake Michigan along the northern coast of Washington Island. The natural area features a shallow, hard water seepage pond with a substrate of pure marl that nearly dries up in late summer and during years when the water level of Lake Michigan is low. Surrounding the pond is an open, treeless, boreal-rich fen dominated by wire-leaved sedges, sweet gale, and hoary willow. Boreal-rich fens are similar to their southern Wisconsin counterparts in having alkaline, saturated, peaty soils. They differ compositionally by having species more typical of nutrient poor northern wetlands such as round-leaved sundew, pitcher plant, cotton-grass, bog-rosemary, Labrador-tea, and bogbean. The fen also supports many rare plants. Adjoining the fen is a northern wet-mesic forest dominated by white cedar situated on peat over gravel and sand ridges. Deer browse is heavy and some areas are lacking in cedar reproduction. Coffey Swamp is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1994.


Driving directions

From Detroit Harbor, go north and east on County W 5.8 miles. Park along the road and walk north into the natural area.


Coffey Swamp 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.


Management objectives and prescriptions


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
  • 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: Monday, June 10, 2019