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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Little Bear Hemlocks (No. 620)

Little Bear Hemlocks

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer



Portage County. T25N-R7E, Section 31. 59 acres.



Located just west of the Mead Wildlife Area, Little Bear Hemlocks is one of four isolated woodlots - remnants of the once vast forest that historically occupied this landscape. This 59-acre parcel is the only remnant in public ownership. Hemlock is the dominant canopy species with many trees over 30 inches in diameter. Dense hemlock reproduction is occurring in some areas. Numerous white pine, sugar maple and yellow birch are also found in the stands. Ground flora includes hepatica, Virginia water-leaf, sweet cicely, wood sorrel, bunchberry, three-leaved goldthread, lady fern, rattlesnake fern, northern beech fern, marsh marigold, wild geranium, partridgeberry, and bishop's-cap. Tip-up mounds and abundant coarse woody debris provide old-growth characteristics. The Forest Transition Ecological Landscape is now mostly agricultural land with very few old-growth forest parcels remaining. And while these woodlots are not large in size, they represent the only known examples for SNA protection within this highly fragmented landscape. Little Bear Hemlocks is an excellent teaching and research site to study the effects of management on fragments of a once vast forest. Little Bear Hemlocks is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2010.


Driving directions

From the intersection of County G and US 10 in Junction City, go east on Highway 10 2.4 miles, then north on State Highway 34 1.1 mile to a small parking area west of the road. Due to a deed restriction, hunting is not allowed at this SNA.


Little Bear Hemlocks 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