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Big Eau Pleine Woods

No. 235


Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR


Big Eau Pleine Woods is an old-growth northern mesic forest located on a sloping peninsula that projects south into the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir, an impoundment of the Big Eau Pleine River. Sugar maple dominates the old-growth forest with basswood, yellow birch, hemlock and red oak. The largest trees occur on a small hilltop with a younger mixed-species forest occurring on the slopes. The gently rolling moraine contains numerous tip-up mounds and fallen, decaying trees affording a variety of microhabitats for plants and animals. The understory is rich with a diversity of spring ephemerals such as trillium, violets, hepatica and bloodroot. Big Eau Pleine Woods is owned by Marathon County and was designated a State Natural Area in 1990.

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 and/or under the "Directions" 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

Archery hunting is now allowed in this state natural area. For full hunting rules, visit Big Eau Pleine Hunting Details. All other forms of hunting and trapping are prohibited.

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 Big Eau Pleine County Park, Marathon County. T26N-R5E, Section 13. T26N-R6E, Section 18. 87 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of State Highways 107 and 153 just east of Halder, go east on 153 0.3 miles to Eau Pleine Park Road, then south 6.3 miles to the parking area for the Giant Hardwoods Nature Trail west of the road.

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]

Big Eau Pleine Woods is owned by Marathon County