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Kieper Creek

No. 477


Photo by Josh Mayer


Of primary ecological importance at Kieper Creek is the great variety and high-quality wetlands associated with the mineral-rich Kieper Creek. These range from rather typical tamarack/black spruce swamps to a small spring pond surrounded by unusual open fen-type vegetation. White-cedar swamps border much of the creek, replaced in places by sedge meadows with good species diversity. Beginning at the north edge of the site, in a mixed wetland of alder, willow, and various tree species, the stream soon forms a defined channel that passes through small sedge meadows and mixed conifer swamps of tamarack and black spruce, gradually giving way to white-cedar dominated forests.

Two spring ponds, bordered by open shrubby areas of ericads, bog birch, and sweet gale, are found in these upper reaches of the stream. The midsection of Kieper Creek boasts a large sedge meadow that is kept open by periodic damming of the stream by beavers. This meadow contains a surprisingly rich mix of sedges, grasses, and broadleaf species that are somehow able to survive the flooding or else quickly recolonize after water levels recede. Kalm's lobelia is very common here. The lower section of the stream contains another small spring pond that is surrounded by an open area supporting an interesting and rather unusual calcium-loving flora. Species occurring here include Kalm's lobelia, spurred gentian, Labrador bedstraw, marsh bellflower, Canada anemone, Carex flava and several other unidentified Carex species, blue joint grass, northern bladderwort, and soft-stem bulrush.

Associated with this spring pond is a small but good-quality cedar swamp containing several orchid species. Short portions of the lower stream contain fast-flowing water and numerous boulders. Also important are three good-sized blocks of hardwoods that are minimally fragmented by aspen clearcuts. Though some of these stands are composed mainly of pole hardwoods, predominantly sugar maple and basswood, small pockets of older hemlock hardwoods are scattered throughout the complex. Kieper Creek 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. Florence County. T40N-R16E, Sections 27, 28, 33, 34. 871 acres.

Driving directions

From Florence, go ca 10.5 miles west on STH 70 to FR 3895, and turn south on FR 3895 for access to the east half of the site. Or travel 1.5 miles farther west on STH 70 to FR 2154, turn south, and go 0.3 miles to FR 3894, which provides access to the west and south portions of 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]

Kieper Creek is owned by: US Forest Service