This 2,189-acre Nature Conservancy preserve includes 15 lakes and ponds with 36,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline.  Donated by the Catherine Wolter family, longtime residents of Presque Isle, the wilderness area is an undisturbed gem in the heart of Presque Isle and allows the enjoyment of nature in its pristine state for years to come. It is open to the public from sunrise to sunset for hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, bird-watching and other low impact recreational activities.

The almost one million acres of the Ottawa National Forest are located in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The forest extends from the south shore of Lake Superior to the Wisconsin border in Presque Isle. The area is rich in wildlife viewing opportunities; breathtaking views of rolling hills dotted with lakes, rivers and waterfalls; and spectacular fall colors. But you have to see it to believe it–come visit the Ottawa!

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (60,000 acres) is one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest. Towering virgin timber, secluded lakes, and miles of wild rivers and streams make a visit to the "Porkies" a trip to remember. Black bears, and of course, porcupine are common in the Porkies. Choose to start your day's adventure with a stop at the Visitor's Center, which has knowledgeable staff on hand to assist you in choosing your activities for the day. The Porcupine Mountains Visitor Center introduces visitors to the rich wilderness heritage of this 60,000-acre park. Set alongside the largest old-growth hardwood-hemlock forest in the Great Lakes region, the center features exhibits and programs that tell the story of Michigan's rugged Upper Peninsula.

A 4,000+ acre state-managed wildlife area in western Vilas County, about a 25-minute drive from Presque Isle. Many people visit Powell Marsh each year. They include hunters, trappers, berry pickers, bird watchers and photographers. A scenic overlook is located at the north end of the marsh. There are no designated trails on the wildlife area but roads and dikes provide walking access throughout much of the wildlife area. Naturalists from the Northern Highland State Forest and private naturalists offer guided interpretive programs at Powell Marsh. The most common programs include birding and wildflower hikes.The Powell Marsh Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities, including birding, hiking and biking, hunting, trapping, wild edibles-gathering, and wildlife viewing.

SNAs protect outstanding examples of Wisconsin's native landscape of natural communities, significant geological formations and archeological sites. Encompassing over 380,000 acres, Wisconsin's 681 natural areas are valuable for research and educational use, the preservation of genetic and biological diversity and for providing benchmarks for determining the impact of use on managed lands. They also provide some of the last refuges for rare plants and animals, and many are open to silent sport recreational activities including paddling, hiking, photography and the like.

The Sylvania Wilderness and Sylvania Recreation Area, is located about 50 minutes from Presque Isle and is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Combined with the adjacent Recreation Area, this 18,327 acre wilderness offers an outstanding experience for those who want to camp, fish, hike, canoe, ski, or enjoy the solitude of a wilderness experience -- for a day or a rustic tenting overnight. Few Wilderness compare to Sylvania. Here you will find 34 named lakes - some with sandy beaches, others surrounded by record-sized red and white pines. This large natural area with its old growth forest and pristine lakes provides habitat for a wide range of living things.

The 400-acre parcel has more than 1 1/2 miles of shoreline. Its forested stand represents a rare remnant of the northern hardwood–hemlock forest, once the largest and most characteristic of northern WI. It retains many of the characteristics of old-growth forests, such as large live trees, snags, and fallen trees on land and water. It houses eagle and loon nests, includes sightings of birds such as Scarlet Tanager and Blackburnian Warbler, houses a plethora of vernal pools and wetlands for exploration, and features a unique array of glacial moraines. Van Vliet Hemlocks is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2013. More information HERE.
Directions from Presque Isle:
  • From the intersection of Highways B and W, go east 0.4 miles and turn right on Crab Lake Road.
  • For the East Trailhead, go 3.8 miles to East Van Vliet Road, turn right and go 1¼ miles to the large sign at the parking area.
  • For the West Trailhead, go 5.3 miles to West Van Vliet Road, turn right and go 1.4 miles to trail sign located on the left.