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Brant Brook Pines

No. 149


Photo by D. Feldkirchner


Brant Brook Pines is an old-growth stand of large red pines along the St. Croix River estimated to have originated in the mid-1880s. The northern dry-mesic forest is dominated by red pine with white and jack pines, Hill's oak, basswood, large-toothed aspen, and white birch. A narrow swale of black ash nearly divides the area.

On the elevated river terrace above the pines is a dense forest of small oaks while a more mature swamp hardwood forest of oak, black ash, and red maple occur on the low terrace below the pines. The herbaceous layer contains numerous fern species including bracken, spinulose wood, and ostrich along with common early summers species such as wild geranium and columbine.

Brant Brook, a steep gradient, sandy-bottomed stream deeply incised into the river terrace flows through the site. Fed by numerous seeps, the narrow cold water stream supports native brook trout. Brant Brook Pines is owned by the National Park Service and the DNR. It was originally designated a State Natural Area in 1979 and expanded in 2002 to include the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

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 under the Maps 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.

Entrance fees: Excepting Parfrey's Glen, the Cambrian Outlook in the Dells of the Wisconsin River, SNAs within State Parks and some within State Forests, all other DNR-owned SNAs do not have any admission fees.

Hunting and trapping

This SNA has multiple landowners: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the landowner. In general, most DNR-owned land allows hunting and trapping. Partner-owned land may have other rules (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.

Allowable activities: DNR-owned land

The activities listed below are generally allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted above and posted with signs on the property site.

Prohibited activities: all SNAs

  • Camping and campfires
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material, alive or dead.
  • Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
  • Collecting of plants including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
  • Geocaching
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use.

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR].


Within Governor Knowles State Forest and along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Burnett County. T39N-R19W, Sections 16, 17, 20, 29, 30, 31. 498 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of County Highways F and D at the north edge of Grantsburg, go north on F for 3.5 miles, then west on Bloom Road for 2 miles, then north on Gile Road 0.75 miles to the Brant Brook Pines Ski Trail parking lot at the right angle corner. Follow the hiking/ski trail northwest into the 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]

Brant Brook Pines is owned by: The National Park Service and Wisconsin DNR

Management objectives and prescriptions

Governor Knowles State Forest

St. Croix National Scenic Riverway