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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Trout River (No. 505)

Trout River

Photo by Josh Mayer



Within the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, Vilas County. T41N-R6E, Sections 14, 15, 16, 21. 108 acres.



The Trout River is a slow, warm, alkaline stream with clear water of high fertility. Flowing west from Trout Lake, it eventually joins the Manitowish River just west of the forest boundary. Averaging 30 feet in width and with a maximum depth of 3 feet, the river supports numerous rare animals including three fish, a dragonfy, and a freshwater mussel. The stream bottom is primarily sand and gravel where the current is moderate to fast as compared to the muck substrate that is found on slower stretches. Patches of aquatic vegetation are common in the lower reaches. Trout River is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.


Driving directions

This area is best seen by boat. From Woodruff, go north on US Highway 51 about 9.5 miles to the Trout River.


Trout River 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 reserve for stream and springs, as an aquatic reserve and wetland protection area, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the stream and wetlands. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native streams and wetlands.

Management approach

The passive management of the stream and maintenance of woody cover on the banks will determine the ecological characteristics of the site. Other allowable activities include control of invasive plants and animals, maintenance of existing facilities, and access to suppress wildfires.


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