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Mecan River Pine-Oak Forest

No. 582


Photo by Josh Mayer


Mecan River Pine-Oak Forest represents the only known old-growth white pine/black oak forest in the Central Sand Hills Ecological Landscape. This community type is relatively uncommon. Canopy trees are large white pine, white oak, and red oak up to 36, 30, and 32 inches in diameter respectively. The groundlayer varies in diversity with scattered patches of dense herbs.

Characteristic species include wild sarsaparilla, pipsissewa, bracken fern, round-lobed hepatica, partridgeberry, downy rattlesnake plantain, wild geranium, long-leaved bluets, royal fern, and ostrich fern. Breeding birds are pileated woodpecker, eastern wood-pewee, red-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, wood thrush, yellow-throated vireo, pine warbler, ovenbird, and scarlet tanager. In addition, two state-threatened birds have been recorded here. Old stream channels add to the microtopography and diversity within the site. Mecan River Pine-Oak Forest is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2008.

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].


Within the Mecan River Fishery Area, Marquette County. T17N-R10E, Section 8. 141 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of Interstate 39 and County E in Westfield, go north and east on County E for 6.9 miles, then north on County Y for 2.4 miles, then east on Dover Avenue for 1 mile, then north on 14th Avenue for 1 mile, then east on Dixie Avenue to a parking area north of the road. Walk north on an access lane about 0.7 miles 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]

Mecan River Pine-Oak Forest is owned by: Wisconsin DNR