Places We Protect

Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area


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

This preserve protects nearly 10 miles of undeveloped shoreline on 15 wild lakes and ponds.



Why You Should Visit

At this 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.

Why TNC Selected This Site

The Wolter acquisition is significant because it protects nearly 10 miles 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 TNC Has Done/Is Doing

TNC bought the first piece of land at the preserve 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. Today the protected land at the preserve totals 2,654 acres (including a 13-acre conservation easement).

At TNC'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. TNC used the information from the study to help guide management and access decisions at the preserve.




 Open sunrise to sunset


2,641 acres

Explore our work in this region


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.

Cross-country skiers on snowy trail bordered by conifer trees with sun glinting on snow at Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area
Wolter Wilderness Area: Cross-country skiers enjoy the snowy beauty of the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area on trails groomed by the Town of Presque Isle. © Cathy Logan Weber


The preserve is open to the public 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.

In the winter, the Town of Presque Isle grooms 2.5 miles of the trails at the Wolter preserve for cross-country skiing. The rest of the trails are open for back country skiing and snow-shoeing. If you are snow-shoeing on the trails that are groomed, please walk beside the ski tracks rather than on top of them. Snowmobiles may use the existing snowmobile trail near County Highway B for winter recreation.

Dogs are allowed on the preserve but must be on leash from April 1 to August 1 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 boats and canoes is allowed on all waters.  Catch and release fishing with artificial lures only, is allowed on all waters.

The preserve is open for hunting and trapping in accordance with state law.

Questions regarding the preserve should be directed to our Minoqua Office at 715-388-7171.

All of our preserve maps are now georeferenced. You can download an app on your Apple or Android device, and it will allow you to view your location, record GPS tracks, add placemarks and find places.