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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Flambeau River Hardwood Forest (No. 4)

Flambeau River Hardwood Forest

Photo by Josh Mayer



Within Flambeau River State Forest, Sawyer County. T37N-R3W, Sections 5, 6, 8. 266 acres.



Prior to 1977, Flambeau River Hardwood Forest was a landmark old-growth northern mesic forest dominated by hemlock, yellow birch, and sugar maple with white ash, elm, basswood, and very large white pine. A wind storm (downburst) on July 4, 1977, felled the entire stand except for a few large trees, providing a unique opportunity to study the role of natural disasters within natural ecosystems. The site has now become important for education and research, especially for the study of regeneration of old-growth forest following a natural disturbance. Tip-up mounds and pits, insect population dynamics, and salvage/no-salvage techniques are also being studied. The forest is now composed of sugar maple, yellow birch, and basswood; the hemlocks are disappearing. Small deer and hare exclosures were constructed in both salvaged and unsalvaged portions of the natural area in 1982. Flambeau River Hardwood Forest is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1952.


Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways W and M, west of Phillips, go south on M 5.0 miles, then west on Hines Grade Road 1.8 miles, then north on Carlson Road 1.1 miles to the southern boundary of the natural area.


Flambeau River Hardwood 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.


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