Brule River State Forest
Guide

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Introduction

Located in Douglas County, Wisconsin and spanning almost 47,000 acres, Brule River State Forest is a great RV destination offering exceptional recreational opportunities. Originally opened as a state park in 1907, the forest has a rich history in Wisconsin, and it holds the title as the second oldest park found within the state. Brule River State Forest covers all 44 miles of the famous Bois Brule River, which is known as one of the best rivers east of the Mississippi. Before becoming a state park, Native American tribes and, later on, French voyageurs used the river as a link between Lake Superior and the Mississippi River.

Because of the it's expansiveness, the park offers a plethora of activities that you can do during your stay. The park contains a 16-mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail, eight miles of Lake Superior shoreline, and 32 miles of snowmobile and winter ATV trails. The park also has four distinct habitats: coniferous bog, upland pine barrens, sand country and clay plain uplands; all of which serve as a haven for a truly diverse range of wildlife and foliage.

There are two campgrounds found in Brule River State Forest that provide RV-friendly camping without electricity. Bois Brule campground has 17 non-powered sites, and Copper Range campground has 15 sites available for you to use. Peak season in Brule River State Forest runs from May until mid-October.

RV Rentals in Brule River State Forest

Transportation in Brule River State Forest

Driving

Brule River State Forest is located in northwestern Wisconsin around the town of Brule. Since the state park is so big, there are multiple ways to access the park depending on which area you would like to visit. As the name implies, the town of Brule is in very close vicinity, but there are no other small towns within 25 miles due to the remote location of the park. If you are looking for supplies, you can stock up at Solon Springs just south of the park, or, about 30 miles to the west, in the city of Superior.

For those coming from the south, you can use County Road 27; from the east or the west you can take U.S. Highway 2; and from the north you can travel along WI-13. All of these roads are very well maintained, and there shouldn't be any problems for larger RV's in navigating any of them. The roads are quite flat, and, usually, there won't be overhanging branches that could cause damage to your RV. During the winter time, the area is prone to a lot of snow. If you plan on coming to the park during the winter season, make sure you call ahead to ensure that you will be able to have access to the park.

Parking

There is plenty of parking available in Brule River State Forest.

Public Transport

Unfortunately, there are no public transport options available to get to Brule River State Forest.

Campgrounds and parking in Brule River State Forest

Campsites in Brule River State Forest

Reservations camping

Bois Brule Campground

Bois Brule Campground is the largest of the two campgrounds found within Brule River State Forest. Located one mile south of Highway Two on Ranger Road, Bois Brule Campground is a very popular summer camping destination.

There are 22 sites in the campground, with 17 RV-suitable, pull-in sites and five walk-in sites, and all of the sites are non-powered. However, there are other amenities including vault toilets, water collection points, a wheelchair accessible site, picnic tables, benches, fire grates, and a canoe landing. For the hiking lovers you are also located near the Stoney Hill Nature Trail that is across Ranger Road from the campground.

Reservations are available during the peak season, and campers must register at the office or by self-registration when they arrive. Pets are allowed, but they must be on a leash at all times.

Copper Range Campground

The Copper Range Campground is the smallest of the two available at Brule River State Forest. The campground is a 17-unit facility that visitors can reach by traveling around 4.5 miles north of Highway Two on County Highway H, and then west on Park Road. This spot is located near some really great fishing holes and canoe routes, and it is the more popular campground during the spring and fall months.

All 17 sites in Copper Range Campground are non-powered, and this campground is popular with Anglers in the spring and fall. A canoe landing is located a short walk from the campground, and other amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, benches, and fire grates all of which are centrally located.

Located near the river, site number 38 offers beautiful views of the river, and because there are so many wonderful spots to select, guests should try to make reservations ahead of their trip. Reservations are available during the peak season, and all campers must register at the office or by self-registration when they arrive. Pets are allowed, but they must be on leash at all times.

Hayward KOA

Set up a camp of any kind in the woods of northern Wisconsin. Whether you’re traveling as a couple, group, or family, there’s plenty of space at the Hayward KOA. You can find RVs and tents to rent in the local area, but don’t fret if you don’t have an RV or a tent, you’ll find lovely cabin and lodge accommodations. For a once in a blue moon experience, sleep inside a historic teepee.

Float down the pristine Namekagon River or paddle down in a canoe. Anglers have a chance to catch another record setting Musky at the local lake. Land lovers can peddle a rental bike, putt a golf ball or two, or lounge in a lawn chair with the pooch! RV sites offer hookups with up to 50-amp service. Other amenities include basketball and volleyball courts, a jumping pillow, Wi-Fi, and a Camping Kitchen.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Brule River State Forest

In-Season

Swimming

Guests also have the opportunity to go for a swim in the river or nearby lakes. Check out the shoreline of Lake Superior where the river ends or Rush Lake on the east side of the forest after a long day of hiking and horseback riding. The chilly waters are sure to cool you off on a hot summer day.

Be aware that there are no designated swimming beaches, and, as a result, there will not be any lifeguards onsite. Due to the location of the river and the size of the lakes, there is still a chance for dangerous currents and riptides, so be sure to follow proper water safety procedure or use the buddy system when swimming.

Fishing

Love to fish? The Bois Brule River is a naturally reproducing fishery for resident and migratory trout and salmon. It has been known as an exceptional trout fishing stream for more than 100 years, and is considered one of the best streams in the region.

There is also a lake-run fishery with trout (brook, brown and rainbow) and salmon (coho and chinook) migrating from Lake Superior up the river for spawning. The river can be accessed by a series of parking lots and you can also launch kayaks if you want to fish within the stream.

This is one of the premiere fishing opportunities in the region, and it's easy to see that when the estimated 33,000 fisherman visit the area along with several notable US presidents and officials. This is also a great opportunity to learn more about the local environment and the wildlife that inhabits it.

Kayaking

Along with being a great fishing destination, the Brule River has some great terrain for kayaking. The river contains sections of calmer water that is perfect for beginners along with long rapids and ledges for the advanced paddlers. Kayaking and Canoe trips can last anywhere from 45 minutes to five hours, and there are a variety of stopping points along the river if you chose to end your trip.

If you are a beginner, stick to the upper river from Stones Bridge to Pine Tree Landing, as it is relatively calm with several Class I rapids.

From Pine Tree to the mouth, the river becomes increasingly faster, and paddlers will encounter numerous rapids that will provide a lot of enjoyment, including Class II-III rapids at May's Ledges and Lenroot Ledges.

The forest has 10 canoe landings that include vehicle parking areas. Rental canoes and shuttle services are also available from a local private company.

Picnicking

Fancy going out for a picnic during your stay at Brule River State Forest? There are three picnic areas available for you to enjoy that all have their own unique features and amenities, and each site includes it's own table and grills..

The Brule Picnic Area sits on a bluff overlooking the gorgeous Lake Superior. Bois Brule Picnic Area is the closest area to the Bois Brule Campground, and it also gives you canoe access to the river via the boat ramp along the beach. This area does have restrooms and a hand pump for water.

The St. Croix Picnic Area and boat landing is located on Lake St. Croix near the village of Solon Springs. This location also provides parking and access to the North Country Scenic Trail. Make sure to pack your own water and sunscreen as this area does not have running water for guests to access.

Off-Season

Horseback Riding

Guests visiting the Brule River State Forest will find several trails for hiking, skiing, snowmobile rides, and hunting. But what you might not realize is that these trails are also great opportunities for horseback riding.

The only trail that prohibits horses on the path is the expansive North Country Trail as that is for foot traffic only. Take a ride with your family along the scenic trails while riding a horse through the beautiful forest, and make sure to take occasional breaks at watering sites for the horses.

You can find a number of trail guides and rental opportunities if you do not have your own horses, and this would be a great way to learn the skill of horseback riding with a professional. Please note that these trails are used by guests for a variety of activities, and it is important to be aware of your surroundings--especially during hunting season.

Hunting

There will be plenty of hunting opportunities for you to enjoy during your stay at Brule River State Park. All of the forest lands are available to hunt on during the designated seasons, except for the developed recreation areas and the Waterfowl Refuge.

The forest also contains more than 60 miles of hunter walking trails. Common game species include bear, deer, grouse, woodcock and small game. There are also trapping opportunities for beaver, otter, bobcat, and fox. Guests must ensure that they have the proper licensing and permits prior to engaging in hunting activities.

Hiking

One of the advantages of having such a large park is that there are multiple hiking trails available for people of all skill levels.

The 1.7-mile Stoney Hill Nature Trail loop begins at the Bois Brule Campground, and while this trail does have some steep areas, there is a great overlook part of the way through where you can take in the view and rest. The 2.25-mile Historical Bayfield Road Hiking and Snowshoe Trail follows a historic road built in 1870, giving hikers the opportunity to take in some of the history of the area.

Also included is the two-mile Brule-St. Croix Portage Trail that offers an opportunity to see the headwaters of the Bois Brule River like the French Voyageurs of the past. If you are looking for more hiking opportunities in the park you can also hike the 16 miles of the expansive North Country Scenic Trail, spanning the distance from North Dakota to New York.

Winter Recreation

Once the snow starts to fall in Brule River State Forest, the recreational opportunities shift to those that involve the snow. There are 32 miles of snowmobile and winter ATV trails that can be accessed from a parking area on Highway 27 just south of Brule.

Along with ATV and snowmobile riding, there is also a 17-mile Afterhours Ski Trail that is groomed for classical and skate skiing. This is a great trail for all to enjoy, no matter your experience level. This trail has restrooms and a warming shelter that is maintained by both the Brule Valley Ski Club and the state forest. Please make sure to review the ski etiquette and rules prior to venturing out on your first trip.

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