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Black River State Forest

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Black River State Forest
Copyright: - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Black River State Forest
Description - The Black River State Forest encompasses 67,000 acres of which 800 remain natural and the balance managed for timber harvesting and recreation opportunities. Once covered by an ancient sea, the landscape is a compilation of flat woodlands, Cambrian sandstone gorges, marshlands, and rock outcroppings located east of the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. Hard oak and maple hug the 300-foot mounds and ridges while white and jack pine grace the boggy lowland. The land has experienced numerous man made influences over the years including heavy logging, Civilian Conservation Corps development and soil scarification.

Migrant bird life through the Forest includes hundreds of ducks and geese along with notable birds including the sandhill crane and sharptail grouse. Other threatened and endangered species relying upon Black River State Forest include the timber wolf, bald eagle, Eastern massasauga rattlesnake, Cooper's hawk, Blanding's turtle and the Karner blue butterfly, which rely heavily upon wild lupine. Look for stunning dry field displays of the blue, pea-like elongated flowers.

Attractions - This massive state forest has three family campgrounds, one horse campground and the opportunity to backpack. Amenities at the campgrounds vary from modern or rustic facilities, to reservable or first-come, first-served sites. The campgrounds offer swimming beaches, boat landings, mountain bike access, winter camping opportunities, and more. Horse camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis with sites featuring hitching post, hand pump water, and rustic toilets. For those who enjoy backpacking, group camping, or lodging indoors, the park offers these opportunities as well. Picnicking is enjoyed throughout the Forest with developed sites located near Castle Mound, Pigeon Creek and East Fork campgrounds. Over 20 miles of trail are open to a variety of users including hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers. Slicing through the landscape is the darkened Black River, East Fork River and Morrison Creek. Fishing from shore or canoe rewards anglers with stringers of walleye and smallmouth bass. Black River State Forest also features two canoe campsites downriver from Black River Falls below Hawk Island. Bird watchers fancy the forestland during spring and fall migrations, which boast routes along the Mississippi Flyway. Bird watching has expanded to include observations of the Karner blue butterfly, an endangered native species to Black River State Forest. Auto touring is a relaxing and popular attraction on the Forest featuring such destinations as the unique town of Black River Falls.

Recreation - Visitors come to Black River State Forest to swim, hunt, mountain bike, hike, camp, canoe, watch wildlife, backpack, hunt, auto tour, cross-country ski, and snowmobile.

Climate - Southwest Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. January's average temperature is above 16 degrees F (-9 degrees C). Average July temperature is 85 degrees F (29 degrees C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 32-34". Annual snowfalls in the Southwest Region can range from 20 - 40". Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.

Location - Black River State Forest is located in west-central Wisconsin in Jackson County. The Forest headquarters is located at the junction of Interstate 94 and Highway 54.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We went here in August with our two children, two adult friends and two dogs. First, not many designated areas for dogs; but trails were okay for them. No swimming for them, though. Kids swam in the small lake (pond?) close to our campground and enjoyed that. The forest is very beautiful; loved the smell. There is a wild-life viewing area; but we hardly saw any wild animals when we were there. I don't know about lunch, but if you want fire to make dinner at your campsite; make sure to purchase wood early in the day-or be prepared to drive a while to the nearest gas station. Also, good idea to make reservations in advance. The main campground has many more amenities than the first-come, first-serve one. Be prepared for various terrain on the trails (from hilly to prairie). The stars are magnificent viewing at night. Very rustic, very reasonable camping. Pit toilets were okay, too.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Rivers & Streams Water sports pervade the glaciated landscape.

More Information

Contact Information:
Black River State Forest, 910 Highway 54 , Black River Falls, WI, 54615, Phone: 715-284-4103

Additional Information:
Southwest Wisconsin - Southwestern Wisconsin is well known for the Norwegian descendants that farm the region and maintain many Scandinavian traditions.
Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers - Wisconsin is a land of lakes and rivers. The state boasts over 15,000 lakes, national and state protected rivers, and famed borders with the Mississippi, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.
Wisconsin State Parks, Forests, Recreation Areas & Trails - Wisconsin showcases 86 state park system properties offering visitors an opportunity to hike, camp, swim, fish, and simply relax.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Official agency website.


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