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Mount Pisgah Hemlock-Hardwoods

No. 15


Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR


Mt. Pisgah Hemlock-Hardwoods features a relict stand of hemlock and yellow birch along the meandering Kickapoo River in the heart of the Driftless Area. The sandstone cliffs are forested with hemlock, white pine, and white oak and support several uncommon pre-glacial plant species including Sullivant's cool-wort. The understory includes huckleberry, blueberry, pipsissewa, and bunchberry.

On the north and northeast-facing slope is a hardwood forest of sugar maple and red oak with basswood, white oak, big-tooth aspen, white ash, and white birch. Shrubs include witch hazel, alternate-leaved dogwood, round-leaved dogwood, and maple-leaved viburnum. Spring ephemerals are abundant and most of the area supports a mix of both northern and southern plant species. The area harbors numerous rare birds. Mt. Pisgah is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1952.

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. 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: 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

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 below 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].


Within Wildcat Mountain State Park, Vernon County. T14N-R2W, Section 14. 74 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 131 and 33 in Ontario, go east and south on 33 for about 2.5 miles, then southwest on Park Road for 0.6 miles to the picnic area. Follow the Hemlock Trail 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]

Mount Pisgah Hemlock-Hardwoods is owned by: Wisconsin DNR