Boulder Junction, Wisconsin.
Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area Boulder Junction, Wisconsin. © Jim Schumaker

Places We Protect

Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area

Wisconsin

This preserve protects more than 36,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline on 15 wild lakes and ponds.

Why You Should Visit

At this 2,641-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.

Location

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. The preserve encompasses 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.

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.

Questions regarding the preserve should be directed to our Minoqua Office at (715) 358-6305.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

For more information about visiting the preserve, please follow the links below: