BLACK RIVER STATE FOREST
The Black River State Forest, established in 1957 includes approximately 67,000 acres in Jackson County. The area is unique among the state forests mainly because of its geological features. The Forest lies on the edge of the glaciated central plain east of the rough coulee region or driftless area of Wisconsin. If you hike the nature trail to the top of Castle Mound, one can observe what was once the bed of glacial Lake Wisconsin. Unglaciated buttes, sandstone hills, and castellated bluffs such as Castle Mound dot the vast forest landscape.
Dike 17 Wildlife Area is of special interest on the forest and a must visit. The 3,700 acre area is primarily managed for waterfowl. Approximately 2,100 acres of this area are a wildlife refuge. Some endangered and threatened wildlife species which can be found there include the bald eagle, osprey, Karner blue butterfly and the Massasauga rattlesnake. In addition, the threatened eastern timber wolf has reestablished its presence on the forest.
Hunting is permitted on State Forest land except for some public use areas. The forest provides excellent hunting for whitetail deer, ruffed grouse, wild turkey and squirrels. Fishing is also popular on the Black River, East Fork of the Black and various flowages. Walleye, bass, northern pike, musky and panfish are a few species that can be found in these waters.
Prior to European settlement, the land that is now Black River State Forest was occupied by various Native American tribes, including the Dakota, Ho-Chunk, and Ojibwe. These tribes relied on the forests for hunting, gathering, and cultural activities.
In the mid-1800s, European settlers began moving into the region and started logging the forests for its valuable timber. The Black River area had an abundance of white pine, which was highly sought after for construction and other purposes. Logging became a major industry in the area, attracting many settlers and boosting the local economy.
The logging operations had a significant impact on the landscape and ecosystem. Large-scale clearcutting, river drives, and sawmills transformed the forested terrain. By the late 1800s, however, the white pine stands had been largely depleted, and the logging industry began to decline.
The state of Wisconsin recognized the importance of conserving the remaining forested areas and established the Black River State Forest in 1957. Since then, the forest has been managed for multiple uses, including recreation, wildlife habitat preservation, and sustainable timber harvesting.
A Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker is required on all motor vehicles stopping in state parks, forests and recreation areas, please visit the VEHICLE ADMISSION STICKERS
1. East Fork Campground offers 24 sites with picnic tables, fire rings and vault toilets.
2. Pigeon Creek Campground has 38 rustic campsites for tents or small trailers.
3. Castle Mound Pine Forest campground provides electric hookups at all of its 35 family campsite units.
4. Wildcat Mountain State Park nearby also offers camping options including group camps and horse:friendly sites.