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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Ridgeway Pine Relict (No. 326)



Iowa County. T6N-R4E, Sections 3, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16. 546 acres.



Ridgeway Pine Relict features a spectacular site with eight separate pine relicts set among soaring sandstone cliffs, numerous rock outcrops, shallow caves and rockshelters. Pine relicts are southern Wisconsin pine forests that have persisted since the last glacier receded some 12,000 years ago when a cooler climate was favorable for the growth of pine forests. As the climate warmed prairie and oak woodlands replaced the pine and today, remnant pine forests remain only on steep slopes and rocky cliffs in the Driftless Area. These rocky outcrops protected the pine remnants from fire and allowed the pines to reach old-growth status. The relict communities are unlike the northern pine forests because they contain both northern and southern plant species. Within the pine relict areas, white pine is generally more abundant than red pine, but there is good reproduction of both species. Jack pine is also present. Sugar maple, mountain maple, yellow birch, and hemlock constitute a smaller component. The ground flora includes pipsissewa, shin-leaf, wintergreen, huckleberry, and Canada mayflower. There is also a high diversity of ferns present including bracken, bulblet bladder, marginal wood, and interrupted fern. Between the relicts and surrounding them is forested land dominated by white oak with bur and red oak, black cherry, white birch, and shagbark and bitternut hickory. Other significant features include sandstone cliffs with shaded and open plant communities, diverse spring runs, sedge meadows, and dry-mesic prairie. Ridgeway Pine Relicts is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1998.


Driving directions

There are 3 units of the natural area accessible to the public. Eastern unit: From the intersection of County HHH and H in Ridgeway, go north on H about 0.6 miles to an overgrown access lane on the west side of the highway and just north of the farmstead. The access is marked with small State Natural Area signs. Park along the road and walk west along the access lane into the natural area. Western unit: From the junction of Ridgevue Road and HWY 18-151 just west of Ridgeway, go north on Ridgevue Road 0.5 miles to a walk-in public access easement on the west side of the road (vehicles are not allowed beyond Ridgevue Road). This access easement is on private land and the first portion also serves as a private driveway to a residence. To access the public property, walk due west along the lane and then along the fenceline 0.5 miles to the SE corner of the unit. A fence ladder will provide access over the electric fence. Parking is also available 0.35 miles further north on Ridgevue Road in a DNR parking area or where allowed along Ridgevue Road. Central unit: From the junction of Ridgevue Road and HWY 18-151, go north on Ridgevue Road 0.85 miles to a small parking area west of the road. DNR ownership abuts the road here and at other points along Ridgevue Road. Refer to the map for specific site boundaries and unit locations.


Ridgeway Pine Relict 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.


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