Why You Should Visit
At this 2,329-acre preserve, you'll be able to hike through a portion of Wisconsin's North Woods. The 15 wild lakes and ponds at the preserve — with names like Upper and Lower Aimer, Knife, Battine, Bug, and Canteen — host a rich diversity of fish and other aquatic species. The surrounding forests provide habitat for many native plants and wildlife species.
Northeast Wisconsin: between Presque Isle and Boulder Junction in Vilas County.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Wolter acquisition is significant because it protects more than 36,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline on 15 wild lakes and ponds in northern Wisconsin. According to a 1996 report by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, two-thirds of northern Wisconsin’s undeveloped lakes 10 acres or larger have been developed since 1960. If this trend continues, according to the report, all undeveloped lakes in northern Wisconsin not in public ownership could be developed within the next 20 years.
At the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area, the Conservancy protected some of the last remaining lakes in northern Wisconsin where the native fish populations thrive with limited human influence.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The Conservancy bought the land from Mrs. Catherine Wolter, a long-time resident of the Presque Isle area, in June, 2000. Mrs. Wolter, and her late husband Fred Wolter, had owned and cared for the property for 58 years. In 2014, we purchased an additional 80 acres at the heart of the preserve from Carl Wolter.
At the Conservancy's request, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee initiated a study of the lakes and ground water at the preserve in October of 2000. They studied water flow and quality at the site and made a thorough inventory of the plant and animal life in the lakes. The Conservancy is using the information from the study to help make management and access decisions at the preserve.
What to See: Wildlife
Wildlife that use the area include neotropical migrant songbirds like the Black-throated Green and Black-throated Blue Warblers, American Redstarts, Golden-winged Warblers, Magnolia Warblers and Mourning Warblers. In addition you can see Common Loons, Osprey, and an occasional Bald Eagle. White-tailed deer are common, and otter, fisher, black bear and timber wolves are known to frequent the preserve.
As a link between the one-million-acre Ottawa National Forest, located to the north in Michigan, and the 220,000-acre Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, located to the south in Wisconsin, the Border Lakes area (of which the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area is a part) serves as a travel corridor for large-ranging mammals including timber wolves and possibly moose and Canada lynx.
The preserve is open to the public from sunrise to sunset for hiking, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, bird watching, and other low impact recreational activities, with fairly flat terrain and good trails. Be sure to remember water and bring insect repellant in late spring, summer, and early fall.
Dogs are allowed on the preserve but must be on leash from April 1 to July 31 to protect ground-nesting birds. When dogs are off-leash, they must be kept under voice control by their owners at all times to prevent them from creating a nuisance on adjacent properties and residences.
Carry-in access for non-motorized boat and canoe use is allowed on all waters. Catch and release fishing with artificial lures only, is allowed on Lower Aimer, Knife and Bug Lakes. The remaining named and unnamed water bodies are designated for research only and no fishing will be allowed for a 10-year period.
Hunting for whitetail deer and ruffed grouse is allowed from October 1 to December 31 in accordance with state law. For information about our deer hunting program, call (608) 251-8140, ext. 502 or check out the Frequently Asked Questions page of our website.
Camping, picnic fires, horseback riding, biking, other wheeled vehicles or devices, and off-road vehicle use are not allowed. The only exception is that snowmobiles may use the existing snowmobile trail near County Highway B for winter recreation.
Stay on trails and use a map. Please make sure your shoes/boots are clean of any mud that may transport invasive plant seeds to the preserve from other locations, and pack out everything you packed in. Please see our Preserve Visitation Guidelines for more information. Enjoy your visit.
Questions regarding the preserve should be directed to our Minoqua Office at (715) 358-6305.
From Boulder Junction, travel north on County Road M for 5 miles to the intersection of County B. Take a left (northwest) on County B and travel approximately 7 miles, turn right (northeast) on East Bay Road. Travel roughly one half mile to find the trail head located on the east side of East Bay Road. There is a small parking area (10-15 cars) at the trailhead.
All of our preserve maps are now georeferenced. You can download the free PDF Maps app on your Apple or Android device, and it will allow you to view your location, record GPS tracks, add placemarks and find places.