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Belden Swamp

No. 317


Photo by Aaron Carlson


Belden Swamp is a huge wetland straddling the divide between two major watersheds. It forms the headwaters of the Spruce River, which flows south into the Mississippi River watershed; and the Black River, which flows north into the Lake Superior drainage basin.

The wetland complex contains the largest remaining undisturbed open bog in Wisconsin, along with an extensive muskeg, northern wet forest and a zone of shrubby, emergent aquatic vegetation surrounding the wetland. The thinly timbered muskeg contains stunted black spruce and tamarack with ericaceous shrubs and sedges over a carpet of Sphagnum moss. Other parts of the site are quite open with abundant wire-leaved sedges and low growth of bog birch and ericads, including bog laurel and bog rosemary.

A dense conifer swamp of black spruce and tamarack, recovering from long-ago logging, is found in the northeast corner of the site. The large size, isolated location, and roadless aspect provide excellent habitat for the resident pack of timber wolves. Also present are yellow-bellied flycatcher, palm, Nashville, and yellow warblers, savanna and Lincoln’s sparrows, hermit thrush, veery and sedge wren. Belden Swamp is owned by Douglas County and was designated a State Natural Area in 1997.

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 located under the Map tab. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

The good majority of SNAs are isolated and have few or no facilities. Some SNAs have vehicle access lanes or parking lots, but their accessibility may vary depending on weather conditions. Parking lots and lanes are not plowed during winter. Hiking trails may be nonexistent or consist of undeveloped footpaths. A GPS unit or compass and a detailed topographic map are useful tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Non-DNR lands

Entrance fees: For non-DNR-owned SNAs, we are unaware of any vehicle or admission fees. However, please contact the landowner for more information.

Hunting and trapping

This is a non-DNR owned SNA: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the landowner. Partner-owned land may have other rules than DNR (for example, university-owned lands do not allow hunting or trapping). Please contact them directly to find out about their rules for hunting and trapping. You can find a link to other owner websites under the Resources tab.

Other activities

Other allowable activities such as - but not limited to camping, geocaching and bicycling are determined by the landowner. Please contact them directly or visit their websites for details.


Within the Douglas County Forest. Douglas County. T45N-R14W, Sections 18, 19, 30. T45N-R15W, Sections 13, 23, 24, 25, 26. 1,795 acres.

Driving directions

From the junction of State Highway 35 and County Trunk Highway M in Moose Junction, go north on Highway 35 approximately 5 miles to a pull-off on a rise on the west side of the road. Walk west into the natural area. A compass is recommended to navigate this large area.

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. To create your custom map where you can zoom to a specific location, please use the DNR's Mapping Application.

Property map [PDF]



Belden Swamp is owned by Douglas County