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Richter Lake Hemlocks

No. 468


Photo by L. Parker, USFS


Richter Lake features a mosaic of the rich upland northern mesic forest as well as northern wet-mesic forest, northern hardwood swamp, and a collapsed ice-walled lake plain. A large tract of debris flow till with colluvium drainages and potholes between uplands supports a northern mesic forest dominated by hemlock and sugar maple with yellow birch and red maple common canopy associates.

Super-canopy white pine and occasionally red pine are common throughout. Associated trees include basswood, white ash, paper birch, bitternut hickory, butternut and white pine. Understory species include balsam fir, red maple, American hornbeam, and eastern hophornbeam. Most stands occur as low islands within a matrix of mixed conifer-hardwood swamps drained by black ash-dominated drainages. Within the site is a partially collapsed ice-walled lake plain that supports a pole-sized northern mesic forest dominated by sugar maple, basswood, and white ash.

Microtopography within this landform includes an intermittent stream channel, which drains a northern hardwood swamp dominated by black ash with basswood, American elm, and red maple. At the base of the lake plain, a small white cedar swamp grading into a northern wet forest surrounds a small kettle bog lake, which formed in an ice-block depression. Tamarack and black spruce dominate the northern wet forest. Other associated tree species include red maple, balsam fir, and hemlock. The understory is composed of a mat of sphagnum with numerous bog ericads including Labrador tea, bog laurel, and leather leaf. Other shrubs are American fly honeysuckle, alder, and mountain maple.

The ground flora includes moccasin flower, rose pogonia, pitcher plant, common bladderwort, and marsh fern. Several orchid species restricted to these habitats occur on the open sedge mat, which surrounds the lake margin. Altogether this relatively small site contains a microcosm of many of the predominant natural features associated with the Perkinstown End Moraine. Richter Lake Hemlocks is owned by the U.S. Forest Service and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007. This site is also recognized by the Forest Service as an established Research Natural Area.

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.

Non-DNR lands

Entrance fees: For non-DNR-owned SNAs, we are unaware of any vehicle or admission fees. However, please contact the landowner for more information.

Hunting and trapping

This is a non-DNR-owned SNA: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the landowner. 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.

Other activities

Other allowable activities such as - but not limited to camping, geocaching and bicycling are determined by the landowner. Please contact them directly or visit their websites for details.


Within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Taylor County. T31N-2W, Section 12. 302 acres.

Driving directions

The site can be accessed from Perkinstown, which is located in the central portion of Taylor County, Wisconsin. From Perkinstown, go east on Highway M just over 2 miles, then south on FR 115 for 1 mile to FR 116. The site lies south of the road.

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]

Richter Lake Hemlocks is owned by: US Forest Service