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Quincy Bluff And Wetlands

No. 272


Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR


Quincy Bluff and Wetlands is a large, landscape-scale natural area featuring a mosaic of communities including northern wet and wet-mesic forest, northern and southern sedge meadow, shrub-carr, pine barrens, and sand prairie. This unique area is located in the Central Sand Plain ecoregion of Wisconsin, the bed of extinct Glacial Lake Wisconsin and features a vast wetland complex with low sandy ridges, wetlands, and seepage ponds situated between sandstone mesas and buttes that rise 100-200 feet.

Quincy Bluff, which rises 200 feet high and extends for approximately two miles, contains northern dry forest and open cliff communities. Lone Rock, an excellent example of a Driftless Area mesa, features one hundred-foot Cambrian sandstone cliffs. The uplands are forested with jack pine and Hill's oak with a shrub layer dominated by huckleberry, American hazelnut and early low blueberry. Pennsylvania sedge is the dominant herb with wild lupine and spreading dogbane common constituents of the understory. Grasses and forbs characteristic of barrens and sandy prairies are found here including big blue-stem, June grass, needle grass, poverty grass, goat's rue, prairie coreopsis and rough blazing star. Due to its large size and heterogeneous landscape, Quincy Bluff and Wetlands contains essential habitat for a great diversity of species. Within this vast ecosystem are numerous rare plant and animal species. Quincy Bluff is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1993.

In 2013, the Nature Conservancy donated its remaining 1,700 acres at Quincy Bluff to the state. In addition, the Conservancy also donated a permanent endowment to supplement management costs at the preserve, with the funds to be managed by a qualified foundation. This gift of land will better enable the DNR to streamline management across the natural area, particularly the use of prescribed fire to restore rare oak barrens.

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. 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.

Hunting and trapping

This SNA has multiple landowners: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the landowner. In general, most DNR-owned land allows hunting and trapping. Partner-owned land may have other rules (for example, university-owned lands do not allow hunting or trapping). Please contact them directly to find out about their rules for hunting and trapping. You can find a link to other owner websites under the Resources tab.

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].


Adams County. T16N-R5E, Sections 1-4, 10-15, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27. T16N-R6E, Sections 7, 18. T17N-R5E, Sections 25, 26, 27, 34, 35, 36. 6,603 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 13 and H just east of White Creek, go west on H for 2.6 miles, then north on 16th Avenue for 0.4 miles, then west on Evergreen Avenue for 0.5 miles, then north on 16th Drive for 2.4 miles to a parking area east of the road. Or from Highways 13 and H, go north on 13 for 5.9 miles, then west on Dyke Drive for 1.4 miles, then north on 14th Drive for 0.4 miles to a parking area west of the road. Old logging roads loop through the site. State Natural Area signs mark the parcels.

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]

Quincy Bluff And Wetlands is owned by: Wisconsin DNR

Management objectives and prescriptions

The Nature Conservancy [exit DNR]

The ghosts of Quincy Bluff and Wetlands [exit DNR]