Twenty five miles of river, 3,200 acres of water and 9,200 acres of forest await you on the Peshtigo River State Forest, the natural gem of Marinette County. Established in 2001, the property is Wisconsin's newest state forest. It was purchased from the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and includes the Potato Rapids Flowage, located 20 miles southeast of the main forest.
This long, linear state forest borders some of the most beautiful and exciting sections of the Peshtigo River. Anglers know the river's free-flowing portion for its excellent fly-fishing; paddlers brave the Midwest's longest continuous whitewater rapids; and boaters can access more than 3,000 acres of flowage from 15 boat landings.
Activities and recreation:
During the winter, ATVs are allowed to operate on open snowmobile trails. Please note, this is allowed only in the winter months when the snowmobile trails are officially open.
A small portion of the Woodland ATV Trail runs through the state forest. Other than the snowmobile trails that ATVs may use in winter, this is the only location open to ATVs on the state forest. It is your responsibility to know where you can legally ride. Illegal ATV use is strictly prohibited.
Cross-country skiing and hiking
The state forest provides two systems of trails. Numerous rustic roads and volunteer-maintained hunter walking trails on the forest are also open to hikers. Ski touring is allowed on unmarked trails throughout the forest.
Spring Rapids Trail
The five-mile Spring Rapids Trail can be accessed by driving five miles west of Crivitz on County Road W to Kirby Lake Lane. This hiking and skiing trail system includes various loops that provide some extremely steep hills, breathtaking views, several distances and quiet serenity broken only by the rush of the Peshtigo River. During ski season, the trails are groomed for classical and skate skiing. Pets, hiking and snowshoeing are not permitted on groomed ski trails.
Seymour Rapids Trail
This three-mile trail is 9.5 miles west of Crivitz, off Bushman Road and Marinette County Road 1634. Although smaller than the Spring Rapids Trail, this system provides some steep hills and beautiful scenery. This trail is open to hiking, and trails are not groomed at this time for cross-country skiing.
Horseback riding and mountain biking
There are no designated equestrian or mountain bike trails on the state forest, however, the forest is open to these activities. Except during the winter months, snowmobile trails and angler access roads are open to equestrian riders and mountain bikers. In addition, horseback riders and bikers can use the many volunteer-maintained hunter walking trails throughout the forest. Together, these trails provide over 35 miles of trail riding.
There are several native communities within the state forest that are prohibited to horseback riding because they contain sensitive and endangered plant species. These areas are posted closed to horseback riding. Please visit the forest office for further information.
Horseback riders and bikers should exercise caution as other users may be on the trails at the same time. Also be aware that many trails cross private land. Please respect private landowners and do not trespass.
For a safe trail riding experience, mountain bikers should yield the right of way to let horses pass. Equestrian riders are also encouraged to let other trail users know when it safe to pass.
All ground blinds and elevated devices must be removed from the property at the close of hunting hours each day, unless ground blinds are constructed entirely of dead vegetation found on the forest. You must have the appropriate licenses and please review Wisconsin's regulations before you hunt or trap on the state forest.
The Peshtigo River State Forest offers ample opportunities for hunters and trappers seeking all types of game. The majority of lands within the state forest are open to hunting during the scheduled seasons. The exception is a 100-yard buffer around the campground in Old Veteran's Lake Campground. White-tail deer, small game, black bear and migratory birds are the primary game species. Trappers can find beaver, muskrat, raccoon, fisher and mink on the property.
Snowmobiling is a very popular sport in northeastern Wisconsin and the Peshtigo River State Forest has approximately 20 miles of snowmobile trails that connect with the regional network of trails. Trails are maintained in cooperation with Marinette County and local snowmobile clubs. Ample parking is available at boat landings 5, 9, and 10.
The opening and closing of snowmobile trails is at the discretion of each county. Snowmobile trails which cross DNR lands are opened and closed consistent with the surrounding county (or counties). Whenever possible, the opening and closing of snowmobile trails is done on a county-wide basis, however localized conditions may require localized trail opening and closing. It is the responsibility of the county to provide notification about the status of snowmobile trails.
The state forest has two beaches for visitors to enjoy. Old Veteran’s Lake Beach offers ten acres of exceptionally clear water and a small beach for enjoyment. There are vault toilets and drinking water available, and an admission fee is required to swim here.
Boat Landing #9 (a.k.a. Musky Point) has recently been renovated and features a beautifully-designated beach on Caldron Falls with perfect southern exposure for beach goers. Picnic tables, grills and benches are available next to the beach, and vault toilets are located at the nearby boat landing.
The forests surrounding the Peshtigo flowages offer abundant food, water and shelter for a variety of animal species such as songbirds, turkeys, white-tail deer, black bears and butterflies. In addition, the waters of the flowages provide habitat for bald eagles, sandhill cranes, ospreys, common loons, great blue herons and many species of waterfowl. The flowages are also home to many furbearers and various species of amphibians and reptiles.
There are numerous opportunities to observe and enjoy wildlife in a remote and wild setting, but please remember to observe from a distance. In particular, make sure to stay at least 100 yards away from eagle and osprey nests to minimize disturbance.