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Millston Ridge Barrens

No. 694




Within the Black River State Forest, Jackson County. Township 20 North, Range 2 West, Section 31. 193 acres.


Located within the Black River State Forest, Millston Ridge Barrens features an open oak barrens grading into partially closed canopy barrens on a narrow, east-west sandstone ridge rising 200 feet above the surrounding sand plain. On the southeast portion of the site, a flat ridgetop and associated steep slopes support a southern dry forest of stunted but mature white oak on shallow soils. The south part of the site currently includes a red pine plantation.

Oak barrens across the area are variable in composition and structure depending on the degree of canopy closure. Most of the site is dominated by short-statured black oak (approximately 40 feet tall) and a locally dense white pine and black cherry understory. Cherry and huckleberry dominate the shrub layer.

Ground layer plants are diverse, with abundance highest in more open areas. Oak barrens indicator plants include June grass, round-headed bush-clover, silky aster, prairie coreopsis, rough blazing star, western sunflower, bird's-foot violet, hoary puccoon, hairy puccoon, Wisconsin beardtongue and wild lupine. In more closed-canopy areas, plants include vegetative wild lupine, whorled loosestrife, woodland sunflower, pale vetchling and annual false foxglove. Rare species present within the site include a federally endangered butterfly, three reptiles and three plants. Millston Ridge Barrens is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2023.

Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for various 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 established, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is available, it will usually be noted on the SNA map under the Maps tab. A compass, topographic map, or GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

The 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 roads 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 valuable tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Entrance fees: Except for 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

The activities listed below are generally allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted above and posted with signs on the property 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].

Driving Directions

From the intersection of Old County Road I and County O, go east on County O for 2.3 miles, then south on Habelman Road for 1.4 miles to an old logging road heading south. Go south 0.3 miles into the site.

The state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions and private individuals own the DNR's state natural areas program. While most 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 on these maps have been obtained from various sources 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]

Millston Ridge Barrens is owned by the DNR