Skip to main content

Plum Creek Woods

No. 273


Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR


Plum Creek Woods features a steep-sided ravine with sandstone outcrops and a rich remnant of southern mesic forest on the north-facing slopes. Sugar maple, American elm, basswood, red oak, red elm, and ironwood dominate the canopy, and butternut, a tree species of special concern is also present. Shrubs include American bladdernut, eastern leatherwood, hazelnut, and alternate-leaved dogwood. The herb layer is quite diverse and contains a significant population of a state-threatened plants.

Other herbaceous species include blue cohosh, large-flowered trillium, wild ginger, bishop's-cap, water-leaf, sharp-lobed hepatica, common scouring rush, and wood nettle. A scenic sculptured cove is present in the sandstone-sided drainage. Bulbet bladder fern, brittle bladder fern, and slender cliff brake grow among the outcrops here. Dutch elm disease has killed a few elms and canopy openings are rapidly filling with sugar maple seedlings. The surrounding uplands have suffered more past disturbance although some fairly good quality oak woods with a dense understory of ironwood and black cherry is also present. Birds include ovenbird, blue-gray gnatcatcher, northern parula, cape may, blackpoll, American redstart, Nashville, and bay-breasted warblers. Plum Creek Woods is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1993.

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. 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.

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. For more information, see Wis. Admin. Code NR 45 [exit DNR]. For non-DNR-owned SNAs, we are unaware of any vehicle or admission fees. However, please contact the landowner for more information.

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

Although a handful of sites allow activities like primitive camping (e.g. Lower Chippewa River on sand bars) or horseback riding (e.g. S. Kettle Moraine), the activities listed below are generally prohibited on DNR-owned 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
  • Drones: Flying-related activities, including the use of drones, hang-gliders and model airplanes, are prohibited. Permission may be issued by the SNA Program for the use of drones for educational or research purposes
  • 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].


Pierce County. T25N-R15W, Section 11 N½SW¼. 79 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of U.S. Highway 10 and County Highway S in Plum City, go east on 10 2.3 miles, then north on ZZ 0.5 miles, then west on 310th Avenue 0.95 miles, then north on 70th Street. Continue north on this gravel access for about 0.25 miles until encounter a gate or wire fence across the lane. Park on the shoulder and continue on foot about 0.5 miles due north along the edge of an agricultural field to the southeast corner of the natural area. This is a legal public access easement and provides the only entrance to this property. Disregard any “no trespassing” signs that may be posted on this route.

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]

Plum Creek Woods is owned by: Wisconsin DNR