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Deer Island

No. 633


Photo by Josh Mayer


Four separate units comprise Deer Island and support a large block of wet forest in the core of the Central Sand Plains Ecological Landscape. White pine and red maple swamp dominate narrow bands at the wetland/upland interface. This unique community type is found only within this region and harbors several rare plant species. Upslope, the forest transitions to one dominated by oak. In the wetter portions of the site, tamarack, black spruce, and white pine are common and eventually grade into a bog birch and open poor fen. The forests provide habitat for many boreal bird species well south of their normal range including hermit thrush, blue-headed vireo, and golden-crowned kinglet. Many rare Wisconsin species appear to thrive in this area. Deer Island is owned by Jackson County and was designated a State Natural Area in 2010.

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. If a developed trail is present, it will usually be noted on the SNA map and/or 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.

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. 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 Jackson County Forest, Jackson County. T21N-R1E, Sections 11, 14-20, 23, 24. 2,121 acres.

Driving directions

From Mather, go north on 1st Avenue for 8.3 miles, then northwest on Bear Bluff Road North for 1.5 miles, then north on Deer Island Road for 0.6 miles to the 90˚ turn in the road. Park and walk north into the site. Or continue west another 3.8 miles on Deer Island Road and park. Walk north into the site.

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]

Deer Island is owned by: Jackson County