Special Places

Image of the Porcupine Wilderness TrailStatus update 6/5/2020 - The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest opened picnic areas and beaches across most of the Forest as well as developed dispersed campsites. In addition, restrooms and garbage receptacles will be available and fees will be charged at sites that are open and have full services. Please note that some developed dispersed campsites in the Lakewood-Laona Ranger District remain closed due the July 2019 blowdown.

The Forest has two sites operated through a concessionaire permit that will also be opening. The Two Lakes Campground will be open on a first-come, first-serve basis starting today and resume reservations on Sunday, June 7. Group campsites at this facility will remain closed. The Lost Lake Cabins will open, and reservations will be honored. Visitors are encouraged to check their reservations and/or contact the concessionaire with questions. 

In addition, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is lifting the campfire ban in Langlade and Oconto counties following recent rain events and current conditions. The Forest will continue to monitor the fire danger in the July 2019 blowdown area and reassess restrictions as necessary. 

The Forest Supervisor’s order limiting the size of groups of 10 people or less per group across the entire Forest remains in place until further notice. In alignment with this, recreation event special use permits, large gatherings and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center and Forest Lodge will remain closed.

The Forest plans to gradually open campgrounds across the Forest in the coming weeks as we work through preparing sites for opening, staffing capacity and ensuring the safety of our employees, volunteers and visitors.

Decisions to reopen sites hinge on health and safety considerations, as reflected in the Center for Disease Control and state and local guidance.

Reservations at campgrounds with reservable sites have been cancelled through June 14. If circumstances change regarding the reopening of campgrounds prior to June 14, reservable sites may be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Responsible recreation will help expand access to facilities, services and other opportunities. Certain services may still be unavailable, so visitors are asked to plan accordingly and to remain flexible. The Forest will be working to install swim lines and buoys at beaches, visitors are reminded to swim at their own risk and always wear a life jacket.

Visitors are asked to stay as local as possible when choosing a site to visit. Visitors are also urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local health and safety guidance. For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

Moquah Barrens

Fall on the Moquah BarrensIn 2009, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest completed a 22,000 acre management plan for the Moquah Barrens (Northwest Sands Restoration Project) outlining objectives for restoring the forest structure, plant and animal species composition, and fire regime to the landscape in support of the unique and globally imperiled pine barrens ecosystem. The restoration activities to accomplish these objectives include the use of prescribed burns, timber harvests, invasive species removal, native seed planting and ongoing monitoring.

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Mountain Fire Lookout Tower

The Mountain Fire Lookout Tower was built in 1935 by the U.S. Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was once a part of an extensive lookout tower network in the former Nicolet National Forest. The Mountain Fire Lookout Tower was the first tower in Wisconsin to be placed on the National Historic Lookout Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

Cathedral Pines

Cathedral Pines is a 40-acre grove of white pine, hemlock and red pine that escaped cutting by lumberjacks in the 1900s. Located in the Chequamegon–Nicolet National Forest’s Lakewood-Laona Ranger District, this dynamic and exceptionally scenic old-growth forest is one of the few remaining stands of towering pine and hemlock in Wisconsin.

Highlighted Areas

Whisker Lake Wilderness

Whisker Lake was designated as a wilderness on October 2, 1978. This 7,500 acre tract is located 11 miles west of Florence, Wis., on the Michigan-Wisconsin border in Florence County. The area got its name from the large pines near the shoreline of Whisker Lake. Old timers called these pines "chin whiskers". These "chin whiskers" somehow escaped being burned by wildfires that ravaged the area after it was railroad-logged in the early 1900's. The terrain within the Whisker Lake area ranges from rolling upland to beaver flooded wetlands. Trout fishing is available at Riley Lake, Edith Lake, Wakefield Creek and the Brule River. Berry picking, hunting, cross-country skiing and wildlife viewing are just some of the activities you can enjoy during your visit.

Blackjack Springs Wilderness

Officially designated as a Wilderness in 1978, this 5,800 acre area is located 7 miles northeast of Eagle River, Wis. in Vilas County. Blackjack Springs main feature is a series of four large, crystal clear springs that form the headwaters of Blackjack Creek, in the midst of dense forest cover. This Wilderness contains diverse vegetation typical of the Lake Superior Highlands of northern Wisconsin. The terrain is somewhat rolling and uneven. Wildlife such as deer, bear, fisher, ruffed grouse, and various species of songbirds are common. One lake, three streams with associated spring ponds and wetlands are also found here. Fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing and nature study are popular recreational uses.

Headwaters Wilderness

Officially designated as a wilderness in 1984, this 18,000 plus acre wilderness is located 16 miles southeast of Eagle River, Wis. in Forest County. Portions of this area contain some of the largest and oldest trees in the forest. Kimball Creek, Shelp Lake and the Headwaters of the Pine River are major features within this Wilderness. The terrain is generally flat. Popular recreation uses in this Wilderness are hiking, bird-watching, hunting, fishing and studying nature.

Porcupine Lake Wilderness

Officially designated as a wilderness in 1984, this 4,446 acre wilderness is located 4 miles southeast of Drummond, Wis. in Bayfield County. Some of the wilderness contains rolling hills covered with oak, maple, hemlock and white pine. The remainder of the area is fairly flat. Many streams contain trout. Porcupine Lake and Eighteen Mile Spring Pond have good fishing for trout, bass, panfish, and northern pike. Watchable wildlife include deer, bear, fox, coyote, loons and many species of songbirds. The North Country National Scenic Trail runs the length of the area. Branded posts mark the trail location at some intersections.

Rainbow Lake Wilderness

Rainbow Lake was one of the first eastern wildernesses designated in 1975. The total area encompasses 6,583 acres, located 4 miles north of Drummond, Wis., in Bayfield County. Among the unique features of this wilderness are the numerous narrow gauge railroad grades that were used for log hauling in the early 1900s. The North Country National Scenic Trail, which runs the length of the wilderness (north to south), and the Anderson Grade Trail (east to west) follow parts of these old grades.  These trails provide access to a variety of lakes that are great for fishing. 

Interspersed thoughout the wilderness are several scenic lakes and bogs, many of which can be accessed from old grades and the North Country National Scenic Trail.

The terrain in the area is mostly flat to gentle rolling, with some steep hills. Wildlife is abundant, so bring your binoculars and cameras!