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McGilvra Woods

No. 206


Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR


McGilvra Woods is one of the richest southern mesic forests in southwestern Wisconsin and is noted for its display of spring wildflowers. The forest is situated on a gentle to moderate northwest slope at the edge of the Baraboo Hills with a knob of exposed sandstone bedrock found near the southeast corner of the site. Sugar maple and basswood dominate the woods with black cherry, red oak, white ash, yellowbud hickory, bigtooth aspen, and white oak. The trees are medium-aged, but the site is intact and with protection could become an old mesic forest.

The sparse shrub layer contains eastern prickly gooseberry, common elderberry, and alternate-leaved dogwood. The groundlayer flora is rich in spring ephemerals and contains more than 110 species including uncommon plants such as leatherwood and putty root orchid. Other species include spring-beauty, toothwort, woodland phlox, wild geranium, hepatica, May-apple, Virginia waterleaf, bellwort, nodding trillium and several orchids. McGilvra Woods is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1986.

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 "Access" 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.

Allowable activities: DNR-owned land

In general, the activities listed below are allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted under the "Access" tab above and posted with signs on 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].


Sauk County. T11N-R6E, Section 8. 72 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 12 and 136 in West Baraboo, go south on 12 for one mile, then west on County Highway W for 2.8 miles, then north on Far View Road 0.28 miles to a DNR parking area east 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]

McGilvra Woods is owned by: Wisconsin DNR

Management objectives and prescriptions