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Forbes Springs

No. 490


Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR


The centerpiece of this site is Forbes Springs, a spring pond. From this pond exits Forbes Creek, a fast, hard, cold waterway. Although outside the designated SNA, the adjacent federally designated Old-growth site also has some fine wetlands including a long stretch of black ash and white cedar. A section of the cedar swamp houses a large number of rare plant populations. Other natural communities include the northern mesic forest dominated by sugar maple and paper birch.

Within the uplands, there is some white pine regeneration. Early site surveys indicated the presence of super-canopy white pine, but a later survey only found 80-year-old post-logging trees, probably of fire origin. Some beech regeneration was encountered. Despite the ease of access to this site, protecting it allows for preserving a collection of wetlands that supports viable populations of rare plants along with the spring source of the wetlands. Forbes Springs is owned by the US Forest Service and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.

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 normally 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 Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Oconto County. T33N-R17E, Sections 20, 29. 20 acres.

Driving directions

From Lakewood, go east on County Highway F for 3.1 miles, then east on FR 2101 (Smyth Road) for seven miles, then north on Holt Ranch Road 0.15 miles to a footpath on the west side marked with a brown "Tour Stop 15" sign. Park along the road and walk west on the footpath. A short boardwalk leads to the spring pond.

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]

Forbes Springs is owned by: US Forest Service