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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Spruce Grouse Swamp (No. 540)

Spruce Grouse Swamp

Photo by Randy Hoffman



Vilas County. T42N-R10E, Sections 23, 26. 400 acres.



Spruce Grouse Swamp is part of an extensive wetland complex southwest of Lac Vieux Desert and features a mosaic of lowland community types including northern sedge meadow, muskeg, black spruce swamp, and tamarack swamp. The surrounding uplands contain a boreal-like dry forest on the low sandy ridges that are found throughout the site. Jack pine with scattered open grown red pine, and black spruce dominate on swamp islands. Aquatic features of interest include Wolf Lake, a small 5-acre bog lake, and a spring fed cold-water stream. The site provides habitat for a number of boreal birds including gray jay, boreal chickadee, black-backed woodpecker, Connecticut warbler, and the state-threatened spruce grouse. Of interest are the reported sightings of the federally endangered Kirtland's warbler in close proximity to this area. Plants include the ragged fringed orchid found growing in a wet pool in one of the large sedge meadows. The interior of the swamp is remote with no major roads present, although a snowmobile trail is heavily used during the winter. This area appears to have been an old glacial lakebed, which eventually drained south into the Wisconsin River. Spruce Grouse Swamp is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.


Driving directions

From the intersection of County K and Highway 45 in Conover, go east on K 2.1 miles, then north on Muskrat Creek Road 2.9 miles, then southwest on Fire Lane Road. Take an immediate right turn on an unmarked road heading west. Follow this road east and north 1.65 miles into the site.


Spruce Grouse Swamp 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