Entering a wet-mesic forest habitat feels magical. White cedar, hemlock and pine shut out the sky. The darkened, hushed and hummocky trail, infused with balsamy aromatics, encourages silence. Moss coats everything from felled tree trunks to the edges of icy pools, bright splashes of green in the shadowy space. The deadfall in some places creates large tangles of trees. Planked boardwalks, some with wire-meshed surfaces, traverse the marshiest areas. Clark Lake’s northern shore comes into view between twisty, leaning trunks and well-spaced lookouts. Sun slashes through occasional openings in the canopy here.
These features dominate the southern portions of the three interconnected trails at Logan Creek State Natural Wildlife Area in West Jacksonport. The northern parts have an entirely different character: that of a hardwood forest. Here, the smells are earthy and autumnal, the trees – sugar maple, beech, hemlock, white cedar, yellow birch, black cherry – more towering and spacious.
The 166-acre parcel of land owned by The Ridges Sanctuary is named for the 5.4-mile-long stream that flows southeast from Lost Lake and empties into Clark Lake. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has designated Logan Creek an Outstanding Water Resource.
Know before You Go
Where: From the intersection of Highway 57 and County V in Jacksonport, go south on Highway 57 for 2.6 miles, then south on Loritz Road for 0.25 miles, to a parking area on the east side of the road.
Difficulty: Easy on all three trails. Some areas are hummocky; others have narrow boardwalks over wetland areas that can be slippery.
Access: Owned by The Ridges Sanctuary and designated a State Natural Wildlife Area in 2007, public access is allowed with a $5 fee. A box for the fees is situated at the trailhead off Loritz Road. Access is free to members of The Ridges.
Highlights: Northern wet-mesic forest dominated by white cedar and black ash, plus second-growth, upland hardwood forest dominated by sugar maple, with beech, hemlock, white cedar, yellow birch and black cherry. Hummocky terrain is separated by small pools. Serene views of Clark Lake.
Length: We didn’t see specific mile markers, but we hiked at a leisurely pace around the entire loop within an hour.