Eastern Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

Bearsdale Creek cliffs with rock-cap ferns
Bearsdale Creek cliffs with rock-cap ferns (Polypodium virginianum). Photo by Matt Bushman.

Bladder Lake and eastern white pine.
Beardale Creek in the fall. Photo by Matt Bushman.

Bearsdale Creek and Hyatt Springs

Forest: Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

District: Washburn Ranger District

Description: Bearsdale Creek and Hyatt Springs is a diverse site with several excellent representative natural communities as well as numerous unique natural features. Two key aspects are its spring-runs and ponds and rich bottomland hardwood forest. The spring-runs and ponds (including Hyatt springs, Shunenberg Creek, and Bearsdale Creek) are small, hard-water, and landlocked. They emanate from springs and flow in a westerly direction, then disappear into fine sands. All support small populations of minnows and brook trout. The site supports a unique wet-mesic forest grading into hardwood swamp dominated by bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), basswood (Tilia americana), and black ash (Fraxinus nigra) with numerous plant species more common of rich bottomland forests to the south. Bearsdale Creek passes through the stand and might act as its flood source contributing rich alluvial soils. An upland northern mesic forest is dominated by bur oak and basswood with sugar maple (Acer saccharum), green ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica), and black cherry (Prunus serotina). A very rich, diverse understory includes wood nettle (Laportea canadensis), wild leek (Allium tricoccum), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), and American starflower (Trientalis borealis). The northern hardwood swamp is a unique community dominated by black ash, bur oak, and box elder (Acer negundo) with a thick understory of prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), and hops (Humulus spp.).

Situated on rough knobs and kettle topography is a mature, second-growth dry-mesic forest dominated by medium sized red pine (Pinus resinosa) and white pine (Pinus strobus). Canopy associates include red maple (Acer rubrum), red oak (Quercus rubra), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), big-tooth aspen (Populus grandidentata), black cherry, and balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Pine reproduction is generally sparse, though pockets of sapling white pine occur. Most of the reproducing trees are hardwoods. The shrub layer is moderate to dense with beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis), and raspberries (Rubus idaeus). Characteristic herbs include bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), winterberry (Gaultheria procumbens), large-leaved aster (Aster macrophyllus), early low blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), velvet-leaf blueberry (Vaccinium myrtilloides), narrow-leaved cow-wheat (Melampyrum lineare), and club-mosses (Lycopodium spp., Huperzia spp.). There has been little to no disturbance in this stand since the cut-over logging era, approximately 80-100 years ago.

Safety First: Appropriate clothing and footwear is necessary for trail walking or exploring off trail in wetter areas. Be prepared for wet weather and insects. Bug spray is recommended.

Directions: From the intersection of Highway 63 and County Highway N in Drummond, go west on Hwy N approximately 5.2 miles, then south on FR 803 about 2 miles to the northwest corner of the site.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Bearsdale Creek and Hyatt Springs was designated a State Natural Area in 2007. Contact the Washburn Ranger District at (715) 373-2667 for maps and travel conditions.

Closest Town: Drummond, Wisconsin.