Special Places

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest offers visitors many unique natural attractions and experiences. These range from hundreds of acres of lakes for swimming and fishing, to the historical Mountain Fire Lookout Tower, to the serenity of hiking in the wilderness. Discover what makes your National Forests special.

Fall on the Moquah BarrensMoquah Barrens

In 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.


A look up at the Mountain Fire TowerMountain 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.





A current photo from Cathedral PinesCathedral 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.





Plan Your Trip: WildernessWilderness Areas

There are 5 Wilderness Areas on the Forest totaling over 44,000 acres. Sizes range from the 4,292 acre Porcupine Lake Wilderness to the 18,188 acre Headwaters Wilderness. They are located in northern Wisconsin. If you're looking for rustic, quiet place in the forest, whether for a one-day hike or a camping trip, make plans to visit one of our Wilderness Areas!

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

Group of volunteers standing in front of signpost for Blackjack Springs WildernessOfficially designated as a Wilderness in 1978, this 5,800 acre area is located 7 miles northeast of Eagle River, Wis. in Vilas County. At Blackjack Springs, a series of four large, crystal clear springs 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. There is also a lake, three streams with associated spring ponds and wetlands in this area. People visit to fish, hunt, bike, canoe, and get up close to nature.

Group of volunteers standing in front of signpost for Blackjack Springs Wilderness Group of volunteers standing in front of signpost for Blackjack Springs Wilderness

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 throughout 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!