The Brule River State Forest offers exceptional recreational opportunities, including wildlife viewing, 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.
The forest contains all 44 miles of the Bois Brule River, one of the best known rivers east of the Mississippi. For over one hundred years, it has been known as an exceptional trout stream. The Brule River contains resident brook, brown and rainbow trout. Lake brown and rainbow (steelhead) trout along with Coho and Chinook salmon migrate up the Brule annually from Lake Superior.
The river itself has two distinct personalities. The upper river (the southern portion) flows through miles of coniferous bog and is fed by numerous springs. When the river crosses the Copper Range, it begins a fall of 328 feet in the eighteen miles to Lake Superior. Here, flashing cascades tumble over rocks and ledges and between steep river bluffs forested with aspen and balsam fir.
Activities and recreation
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 and many back roads.
Camping and backpacking
There are two rustic family campgrounds in the forest along with backpacking opportunities.
Canoeing and kayaking
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 will meet your expectations.
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.
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.
Hunter walking trails
The Brule River State Forest has more than 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.
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. Bathrooms are provided, and drinking water is available via hand pump.
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 vehicle 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.
The forest has no designated swimming beaches, but some people enjoy swimming at Rush Lake on the eastern edge of the forest, or in the cold waters of Lake Superior at the mouth of the Brule. Both locations have sandy beaches and clear water. Public beaches near the state forest are located on Lake Minnesuing and Lake Nebagamon.
Wildlife viewing and photography opportunities abound on the forest. Wildlife diversity is influenced by the variety of northern hardwood habitats that exist on the forest, including wetlands, pine barrens, grasslands, shrub-lands and boreal forest. The diverse terrain and soil types on the forest, as well as the Brule River itself, are responsible for this assortment of habitats.
More than 200 species of birds have been recorded in the Brule River State Forest. Such rare birds as the black-backed woodpecker, white-winged crossbill, merlin, great gray owl and goshawk have been seen and likely nest on the property. Mammals such as the badger, bobcat, fisher and gray wolf can also be found.