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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Trempealeau Mountain (No. 356)

Trempealeau Mountain

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer


Perrot State Park



Within Perrot State Park, Trempealeau County. T18N-R9W, Section 19. 90 acres.



Surrounded by the Mississippi and Trempealeau Rivers, the steep-sided Trempealeau Mountain is one of only three solid rock islands along the entire stretch of Mississippi River. Standing 425 feet high, the mountain was used as an early navigational device by steamboat captains and other river travelers. The mountain is mostly wooded with black and white oak and basswood. Red oaks are found on the southeast-facing hollow with large patches of interrupted ferns while sugar maple and basswood dominate on the cooler northeast facing slopes. On dry south-facing slopes are small patches of dry prairie with big blue-stem, needle grass, side-oats grama, hairy grama, white and purple prairie-clover, prairie larkspur, and partridge pea. The mountain is rich in archeological features with numerous Native American mounds, burial sites, and habitation sites. The name Trempealeau comes from the French, “la montagne qui trempe à l’eau” meaning “the mountain whose foot is bathed in water”. Trempealeau Mountain is owned by the DNR, as part of Perrot State Park and was designated a State Natural Area in 2002.


Driving directions

From the intersection of State Highway 35 and Main Street in Trempealeau, go south on Main Street about two blocks, then west into Perrot State Park on South Park Road 2.6 miles to a boat launch west of the road. Access is by boat.


Trempealeau Mountain 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 southern dry-mesic forest and dry prairie reserve, as an ecological reference area, and as a significant archaeological site. Natural processes and prescribed understory manipulation will determine the structure of the forest and prairie. Additionally, the structure of the forest will be determined by prescribed understory manipulation, while that of the prairie by prescribed fire (see below). Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native ecosystems.

Management approach

In the dry and dry-mesic forest, the native dominant tree species (primarily oaks) are managed passively. However, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. The mostly passive canopy management and understory manipulation will determine the ecological characteristics of the site. In the prairie, vegetation is managed actively through tree/shrub control using tree harvest, brushing, and especially fire to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Occasional fire-tolerant oaks, hickories, and native shrubs such as hazelnut may be retained at low densities. The ecological characteristics of the site will primarily shaped by an intensive fire management program. Across the entire site, other allowable activities include control of invasive plants and animals, maintenance of existing facilities and access to suppress fires. Salvage of trees after a major wind event is not considered compatible with management objectives. The Native American effigy mounds and habitation sites are managed according to Department policy and existing state and federal legislation. This especially includes avoiding disturbance of the burial sites with the establishment of a "no disturbance" buffer zone within 15 feet of their perimeter or base. Vegetation on and around these features is generally managed in the same manner as the natural communities within which they occur. However, removal of trees and shrubs from burial areas (without any ground disturbance, e.g., stump pulling or vehicle use) and within the 15-foot buffer zone is generally desirable to protect them from windthrow, and to encourage growth of groundcover that helps prevent erosion. Selected trees may be retained for forestry purposes, or when unavoidable mound damage would occur during tree removal, or for other management purposes. Sites covered by grasses may be periodically mowed, burned and sprayed to maintain existing groundcover and to limit woody succession. The Departmental Archaeologist reviews all proposals for DNR-proposed activities within the buffered burial area.

Site-specific considerations

  • Railroad easement management is occasional conducted by the railroad company.


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: Friday, October 26, 2018