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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Blue Hills Felsenmeer (No. 74)

Blue Hills Felsenmeer

Photo by Eric Epstein



Within Rusk County Forest. Rusk County. 53 acres.



Blue Hills Felsenmeer features talus slopes and is an outstanding location for geological interpretation of glacial action. The natural area consists of several small valleys, strewn with lichen-covered rocks, on the southwest side of the Blue Hills. These unusual features required unusual circumstances to develop. Early Woodfordian glaciation covered the Blue Hills and cut canyons on the western flank when the glacier retreated. The late Woodfordian glacial advance covered all but this western portion. The tundra climate in the area led to excessive frost activity, leading to the development of several features. The felsenmeers (meaning "sea of rocks") were formed by excessive frost activity. Quartzite, being a brittle rock, is very susceptible to frost wedging. Continuous wedging over time formed slopes of angular rock rubble. Some slopes are very stable; others have six-foot-high ridges of "talus moraine" formed at the base. Cold air emanating from deep within the slopes maintains a tundra-like environment. Several species with boreal and tundra affinities are still present, and the lichen flora is diverse. Blue Hills Felsenmeer is owned by Rusk County and was designated a State Natural Area in 1969.


Driving directions

From the intersection of Old 14 Road and County W, go north 2.3 miles to a gravel turn-off just after the beginning of the curve in the road. Driving south from the County O/County F intersection, go 2.7 miles. If you have high vehicle clearance, you can drive down the gravel road and park. The hiking route starts heading wets on the gated logging road. There is a shorter approach from the end of Slack Road, which is north of the curve on County W. Slack Road is usually not plowed in winter.


Blue Hills Felsenmeer is owned by:

  • Rusk 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.

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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