Brule River State Forest

Quick Facts

Brule River State Forest

Wisconsin

(715) 372-5678

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Established in 1907, the 47,000-acre Brule River State Forest is rich in natural and cultural history. Located in eastern Douglas County in northwestern Wisconsin, the property is approximately 30 miles north to south, containing the entire 44 miles of the Bois Brule River.

The Brule River State Forest offers exceptional recreational opportunities, including wildlife viewing, five State Natural Areas, a 16-mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail, eight miles of frontage on Lake Superior, the Bois Brule State Fish Hatchery, and much more.

Map of Brule River State Forest (WI)

Latitude, Longitude: 46.539166, -91.590762

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Activities

  • Boating

    Whether you are in the mood for a peaceful float with the family or the challenge of an exciting ride through whitewater, the Bois Brule River in northern Wisconsin can meet your expectations. This unique, 44-mile-long river varies from a meandering stream in a conifer bog to a fast-flowing river with numerous rapids and ledges. As it flows north, the Brule River drops 418 feet in elevation, plunging 328 feet in just the last 19 miles.

    A Variety of Canoe/Kayak Experiences The Bois Brule River offers easy-going trips on the upper river, particularly from Stones Bridge to Winneboujou, that nearly anyone can handle. More adventurous folks can stay on the river another 45 minutes and experience Little Joe Rapids, a modest class II rapids located just upstream of the Bois Brule Canoe Landing.

    Still more daring canoeists, and most kayakers, prefer the river north of Pine Tree Landing to the Highway 13 Landing. This stretch of river will take paddlers through nearly continuous stretches of riffles, ledges and rapids.

    Canoe Rental A canoe rental outfit located in Brule rents out both canoes and kayaks. This business also offer several trips and can pick up or drop off people and canoes.

    Approximate Time Between Landings: Stones Bridge to Winneboujou: 4 hours Stones Bridge to Bois Brule PicnicArea/Canoe Landing: 4.75 hours Winneboujou to Bois Brule Picnic Area/Canoe Landing: 45 minutes Winneboujou to Highway 2: 1.25 hours Highway 2 to Pine Tree: 4 hours Pine Tree to Highway 13: 5 hours Highway 13 to Mouth of the Brule: 4 hours

  • Bicycling

    The Brule River State Forest has no designated trails for biking; however, it does contain numerous multi-use trails and roads that are ideal for mountain biking. Cyclists who enjoy getting away from the crowd may use any of the hunter walking trails, the Afterhours Trail (off ski-season), the Brule-St. Croix Snowmobile Trail, the Tri-County Corridor, as well as back roads.

  • Camping

    In addition to back country camping, the Brule River State Forest offers two family campgrounds, the Bois Brule Campground and the Copper Range Campground. Each includes a wheelchair accessible site, pit toilets, a hand pump for water, picnic tables, benches, fire grates, a canoe landing, and hiking opportunities. Electric hookups are not available.

    Bois Brule Campground Located one mile south of Highway 2 on Ranger Road, the Bois Brule Campground is a 20-unit campground with 17 pull-in sites and three walk-in sites. This campground is a favorite in the summer. A canoe landing is located in the picnic area and visitors will find the Stoney Hill Nature Trail across Ranger Road from the campground.

    Copper Range Campground The Copper Range Campground is a 15-unit campground that visitors can reach by traveling 4.5 miles north of Highway 2 on County Highway H, and then west on Park Road. Located near favorite fishing holes and canoe routes, this campground is popular with anglers in the spring and fall. A canoe landing is located a short walk from the campground. There is also a trail across the bridge that links to the Historic Bayfield Road Hiking and Snowshoe Trail.

    Back Country Camping Trails may be used to access remote areas of the Brule River State Forest and backpack camping is allowed. However, you must hike with your gear a minimum of one mile from where you park your vehicle, and camp 100 feet from any trail and out of sight of any water body. Camping within 100 feet of a trail is prohibited. You must possess a Special Camp Registration Permit before heading out to camp. This permit is free of charge and can be obtained from the Brule River State Forest station. The most suitable trails for back country camping are the 26-mile snowmobile trail between Brule and St. Croix Lake and the North Country Trail that leads from State Highway 27 (seven miles south of Brule) to St. Croix Lake.

    Please follow the rule of "carry in, carry out," taking all of your trash and recyclable items home with you. You may use dead and downed wood for firewood. Do not cut any living trees or underbrush. Make sure your campfire is out when you leave. Never leave a fire unattended.

  • Fishing

    The Bois Brule River is one of Wisconsin's most famous and scenic trout streams. Due to its size, highly productive, self-sustaining fishery, and steady flow of cool spring water, the Brule is considered one of the premier trout streams in the lake states. It has attracted anglers locally, regionally and nationally, even serving as a retreat for several U.S. presidents and other dignitaries. Today, the Bois Brule River draws an estimated 33,000 fishermen annually.

  • Hiking

    Old Bayfield Road Hiking and Snowshoe Trail This approximately 2.25-mile trail is located three miles north of Highway 2 on Clevedon Road. The trail travels eastward down a hill past some old copper mine sites, and then climbs a scenic ridge to pass near the Clevedon fire tower. (Do not climb the fire tower ladder. It is illegal and unsafe.) The trail then continues south and loops back to the parking lot. During the winter months, the trail is popular for snowshoeing.

    Old Bayfield Road Hiking and Snowshoe Trail This approximately 2.25-mile trail is located three miles north of Highway 2 on Clevedon Road. The trail travels eastward down a hill past some old copper mine sites, and then climbs a scenic ridge to pass near the Clevedon fire tower. (Do not climb the fire tower ladder. It is illegal and unsafe.) The trail then continues south and loops back to the parking lot. During the winter months, the trail is popular for snowshoeing.

    he Brule to St. Croix Portage Trail is part of the National Register of Historic Landmarks. The trail begins at the sign on County Highway A at the north end of Lake St. Croix. Parking is available in the St. Croix picnic area.

    A little less than two miles in length one-way, this portage trail was used for centuries by Native Americans, explorers, traders, trappers, and missionaries as an important link between Lake Superior and the Mississippi River via the Brule and St. Croix Rivers. Daniel Greysolon Sieur DuLhut first recorded the trail's existence in 1680. He was followed by many notables of early American history, including Jonathon Carver and Henry Schoolcraft, who are credited with discovering the source of the Mississippi. As you hike the trail along the upper Brule River among scenic bluff tops and pine flats, you will find several stone markers commemorating early trail users.

  • Horseback Riding

    Horseback riders can enjoy miles of trails within the Brule River State Forest, including the Brule-St. Croix Snowmobile Trail, hunter walking trails and numerous back roads. The North Country Trail is for foot traffic only; no horses are allowed.

    Riders are encouraged to locate watering points on a map before starting out or bring water along on the ride. Riders should also keep in mind that hunters use the trails during the deer season. There is no horse camping on the Brule River State Forest, but private campgrounds in the area do accommodate horse campers.

  • Hunting

    The Brule River State Forest has over 40 miles of hunter walking trails that provide easy access to favorable habitat for numerous game animals. Deer and grouse are the most commonly hunted species. Other hunting opportunities include woodcock, bear, and waterfowl. Trapping of species such as beaver, muskrat, fisher, otter, and mink is also common. With the exception of a small waterfowl area north of Highway 13, and intensively developed recreation areas such as parking lots, picnic areas, and campgrounds, all public lands within the forest boundaries are open to hunting and trapping in season.

  • Picnicking

    The forest includes three picnic areas with tables and grills. The Mouth of the Brule Picnic Area is on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior. This spot is known for its fishing and swimming opportunities, long sandy beach and adjacent boat launch. There is no drinking water available at the Mouth of the Brule.

    The Bois Brule Picnic Area is adjacent to the Bois Brule Campground, near the Village of Brule. It is one of 10 designated canoe landings on the Bois Brule River. Drinking water and rest rooms are available in the campground. Visitors must have a state park and forest admission sticker on their vehicle when using this picnic area.

    The St. Croix Picnic Area is located on St. Croix Lake, near the village of Solon Springs. The area includes drinking water, rest rooms, a boat launch and parking for the North Country Scenic Trail and Historic Brule to St. Croix Portage Hiking Trail.

  • RVing

    RVing is permitted in nearby campgrounds, but not in the park.

  • Water Sports

    Whether you are in the mood for a peaceful float with the family or the challenge of an exciting ride through whitewater, the Bois Brule River in northern Wisconsin can meet your expectations. This unique, 44-mile-long river varies from a meandering stream in a conifer bog to a fast-flowing river with numerous rapids and ledges. As it flows north, the Brule River drops 418 feet in elevation, plunging 328 feet in just the last 19 miles.

    A Variety of Canoe/Kayak Experiences The Bois Brule River offers easy-going trips on the upper river, particularly from Stones Bridge to Winneboujou, that nearly anyone can handle. More adventurous folks can stay on the river another 45 minutes and experience Little Joe Rapids, a modest class II rapids located just upstream of the Bois Brule Canoe Landing.

    Still more daring canoeists, and most kayakers, prefer the river north of Pine Tree Landing to the Highway 13 Landing. This stretch of river will take paddlers through nearly continuous stretches of riffles, ledges and rapids.

    Canoe Rental A canoe rental outfit located in Brule rents out both canoes and kayaks. This business also offer several trips and can pick up or drop off people and canoes.

    Approximate Time Between Landings: Stones Bridge to Winneboujou: 4 hours Stones Bridge to Bois Brule PicnicArea/Canoe Landing: 4.75 hours Winneboujou to Bois Brule Picnic Area/Canoe Landing: 45 minutes Winneboujou to Highway 2: 1.25 hours Highway 2 to Pine Tree: 4 hours Pine Tree to Highway 13: 5 hours Highway 13 to Mouth of the Brule: 4 hours

  • Winter Sports

    Snowmobiling is a popular activity in the Brule River State Forest and the forest provides over 30 miles of designated trails. These trails are important links in the regional snowmobile trail system, connecting communities in Douglas and Bayfield counties. The Brule River Riders Snowmobile Club maintains the forest trails with fees collected from snowmobile registration and trail passes.

    The Afterhours Trail offers recreational opportunities throughout the seasons. In winter, it serves as a well-maintained system of cross-country ski trails for both classical and skate skiing. A trail pass is required during the ski season. The Brule River State Forest includes an extensive network of some of the region's finest and best maintained cross-country ski trails for both classical and skate skiing. Various loops provide a variety of terrain suitable for both beginning skiers and those with advanced skills. The scenic Bois Brule River can be seen from the River and White Pine trails. At the trailhead, visitors will find restroom facilities and a warming shelter jointly maintained by the forest and the Brule Valley Ski Club.

    Brule-St. Croix Snowmobile Trail (Trail 27 and 27A) The 26-mile Brule-St. Croix Trail connects the parking area on State Highway 27 to St. Croix Lake. This trail is open to snowmobiles and ATVs during the winter months and can be used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding during other seasons. Connecting trails link to the trail systems of Bayfield and Douglas counties.

Seasonality/Weather

Open year-round

Directions

Driving

The Town of Brule is located in Douglas County on US Highway 2 between Superior and Ashland. To get to the Brule River State Forest headquarters go south on Ranger Road, which is located just west of town on Highway 2 by the wayside.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(715) 372-5678

Links