Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is a 1,530,647 acre United States National Forest located in northern Wisconsin within the United States. Much of the old growth forest within the area was ruined by logging early in the 20th century. Some of the trees that remain growing there today were planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

As they are legally two separate national forests – the Chequamegon National Forest and the Nicolet National Forest – the areas were established by presidential proclamations in 1933 and have been managed as a single unit since 1993.

The Chequamegon National Forest makes up three units in the north-central portion of the state, totaling 865,825 acres. It lies in parts of Bayfield, Price, Ashland, Sawyer, Taylor, and Vilas counties. The forest headquarters are located in Park Falls. There are local ranger district offices in Washburn, Park Falls, Medford, Hayward, and Glidden. Within the forest lie two officially designated wilderness areas of the National Wilderness Preservation System called Porcupine Lake Wilderness and the Rainbow Lake Wilderness.

The Nicolet National Forest is 664,822 acres and lies within northeastern Wisconsin. It lies in parts of Forest, Florence, Oconto, Vilas, Langlade, and Oneida counties. The forest headquarters can be found in Rhinelander. There are local ranger district offices in Florence, Lakewood, Laona, and Eagle River. There are three wilderness areas featured within the forest called Blackjack Springs Wilderness, Headwaters Wilderness, and the Whisker Lake Wilderness.

Some remote areas of muskegs, rivers, streams, pine savannas, meadows, glacial lakes, bogs, and wetlands can be found within these forests. The native species of trees include Acer saccharum (sugar maple), Acer rubrum (red maple), and Acer spicatum (mountain maple), white, red, and black oaks, beech, basswood, sumac, aspen, and paper, yellow, and river birch. Some coniferous trees including red, white, and jack pine, white spruce, and balsam fir are plentiful because of a dense second growth. Eastern hemlock can also be seen as this is the westernmost limit of its range. Cedar swamps, alder thickets, and Tamarack/black spruce bogs are common also. Blackberries, cranberries, ferns, mosses, cattails, raspberries, blueberries, serviceberries, and mushrooms grow here as well, in addition to many more wildflowers and shrubs.

The white-tailed deer are numerous and many are hit by motorists on the roads in northern Wisconsin all year-round. Foxes, raccoons, rabbits, beavers, black bears, otters, chipmunks, pheasants, grouse, squirrels, and wild turkeys are popular game within these northwoods. Elk have been reintroduced to the area and there have been sightings of moose and marten. Birds that can be seen here include northern cardinal, blue jay, gray jay, common raven, boreal, and black-capped chickadees, black-backed and pileated woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, ducks, owls, common loons, bald eagles, evening grosbeaks, red and white crossbills, and many species of thrushes, sparrows and warblers. Rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout can also be found in many miles of the streams. Walleye, small and state fish, has been caught in these waters. The beauty, heritage, and recreational opportunities of these forests attract thousands of tourists to the forest every year.

The forests are best known for recreation, including hiking, camping, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and fishing.

This forest was also home to one of the two extremely low frequency antennae in the United States.

Image Caption: November snow in the Nicolet National Forest. Credit: MDuchek/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)