a natural area by name.
a natural area by county.
Explore outdoors
and find places to go.
Use our interactive map
to find natural areas.
and help care for SNAs.
Contact information
For information on State Natural Areas, email:
State Natural Areas Program

Or leave a voicemail at 608-267-0866 for a return phone call.

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program South Fork Barrens (No. 314)

South Fork Barrens

Photo by Aaron Carlson


Eau Claire County



Within Eau Claire County Forest, Eau Claire County. 26N-R5W, Section 14 SW¼. 120 acres.



South Fork Barrens features a Jack pine-oak barrens situated on the rolling uplands and steep south-facing bluff above the south fork of the Eau Claire River. The barrens is dominated by Jack pine with bur oak, Hill's oak, and red pine with early low blueberry and American hazelnut common in the understory. Numerous prairie grasses and forbs are scattered through the area and include big and little blue-stem, June grass, lupine, blue toadflax, lance-leaved loosestrife, butterfly milkweed, flowering spurge, bastard toadflax, field wormwood, lyre-leaved rock cress, and smooth blue aster. The federally endangered Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is found here, attracted to the wild lupine that is found throughout the barrens. Wild lupine is the only known larval food plant of the Karner blue butterfly and is, therefore, closely tied to the butterfly's ecology and distribution. Active management including prescribed burning and stopping encroachment of woody species will ensure the long-term viability of the wild lupine population and the Karner blue butterfly that depends upon it for survival. South Fork Barrens is owned by Eau Claire County and was designated a State Natural Area in 1996.


Driving directions

From the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and County Highway H in Fairchild, go north on H 10.5 miles, then west 0.5 mile on an unimproved access road (E. Channey Forest Rd) that crosses the site.


South Fork Barrens is owned by:

  • Eau Claire County


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.

To create your own custom map where you can zoom to a specific location, please use the DNR's mapping application.


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.

The good majority of SNAs are isolated and have few or no facilities. Some SNAs have vehicle access lanes or parking lots, but their accessibility may vary depending on weather conditions. Parking lots and lanes are not plowed during winter. Hiking trails may be nonexistent or consist of undeveloped footpaths. A GPS unit or compass and detailed topographic map are useful tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Non-DNR lands

Entrance fees: For non-DNR-owned SNAs, we are unaware of any vehicle or admission fees. However, please contact the landowner for more information.

Hunting and trapping

This is a non-DNR owned SNA: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the land owner. Please contact them directly to find out about their rules for hunting and trapping. You can find a link to other owner websites under the "Resources" heading above. More details regarding allowable uses of this non-DNR owned SNA may be posted, if available, under the "Access" tab above.

Back to Top

Other activities

Other allowable activities such as - but not limited to camping, geocaching and bicycling are determined by the landowner. Please contact them directly or visit their websites for details.

Last revised: Monday, March 27, 2023