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Coulee Experimental State Forest

The Coulee Experimental State Forest is a unique property in Wisconsin. It was purchased by the state to provide land for long-term research studies to investigate forest watershed problems and develop forest and land management practices designed to reduce water problems and improve forest yields. The forest is also managed for forest production, wildlife habitat and recreation.

The forest is characteristic of southwestern Wisconsin's Driftless Area, the unglaciated portions. The name Coulee comes from an old French word meaning ravine. The name accurately describes the area, as the forest has many of these deep gulches or ravines formed by water erosion.

Hiking and wildlife viewing

The 12-mile ski trail can be used for hiking when not snow-covered. The primitive forest roads are also open to several day-use activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, wildlife viewing and nature study.

Horseback riding

The forest provides some horseback riding opportunities. While no trails are designated for riding, all primitive roads are open to horses unless posted closed. Horseback riding is prohibited in Native Community Management Areas, on the ski trails when snow-covered, and on any trail in the spring when the ground is soft.


The Coulee Experimental State Forest provides one of the few large, public upland forests in La Crosse County suitable for hunting a variety of species. All hunting regulations apply.

Primary game species include deer, ruffed grouse, squirrels, turkeys and rabbits. The forest is within Deer Management Unit 59D and Wild Turkey Zone 1. The habitat consists primarily of upland timber and open fields.

Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing has been a popular recreational use on the property for many years. Local volunteers groom 12 miles of trail on the property.