Northern Highland American Legion State Forest
Guide

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Introduction

Northern Highland American Legion State Forest is one of the largest nature reserves in the state. The 220,000 acres of forest are home to 224 bird species, making up nearly three-quarters of the species found in the state of Wisconsin. The forest is also one of the world’s largest bald eagle nesting sites, making it a great area to spot hatchlings. There are also hundreds of miles of hiking trails, giving adventurous RV campers nearly endless ground to cover.

With 900 lakes located in the forest, RV campers will have a wide range of boating and fishing opportunities. You’ll be able to reel in bluegill, northern pike, perch, panfish, and walleye throughout the year, and ice fishing is common in the area. The lakes, streams, and rivers give you hundreds of miles of water to explore by kayak or canoe, and many of the lakes allow motorized boats. There are 18 campgrounds found throughout the park, giving RV campers a variety of site types depending on their needs. Read on to find out more about some of the featured modern family campgrounds.

RV Rentals in Northern Highland American Legion State Forest

Transportation in Northern Highland American Legion State Forest

Driving

Located in northern Wisconsin, Northern Highland American Legion State Forest is a quick drive from most of the state’s main cities. The forest is large, with a variety of campgrounds, some more easily accessible than others. Driving from Milwaukee, take WI-29 west from the city and you’ll get to the forest in just over two and a half hours. From Milwaukee, take I-41 north from the city and you’ll get to the park in around four hours.

The forest is large, and there are a number of winding roads leading to some of the more secluded campgrounds. If you have a large rig, you should consider picking one of the popular campgrounds, such as Crystal Lake Campground, which are a bit easier to access. You should also be prepared for icy and snowy roads during the winter.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Northern Highland American Legion State Forest

Campsites in Northern Highland American Legion State Forest

Reservations camping

Clear Lake Campground

Clear Lake Campground is located in the southern section of the forest and offers 100 sites that offer easy access to some amazing fishing and boating. While the campground does not feature any hookups, you will find restrooms, showers, water spigots, and a dump station. All sites feature a picnic table and firepit, and some offer a private spot in the shade. You'll also be within walking distance to a swimming beach and boat launch. Pets are welcome.

Firefly Lake Campground

The sites in the Firefly Lake Campground do not have hookups of any kind. Firefly Lake has clear waters that are great for swimming, as well as a sandy beach. Pets are allowed, provided that dogs are kept on a leash. Most of the sites can be booked online in advance from May through Labor Day, with some sites available until the end of September as well.

Crystal Lake Campground

The Northern Highland American Legion State Forest is large, with over 220,000 acres of forest and 18 family campgrounds to choose from. The RV campgrounds vary widely in terms of amenities. Several of the campgrounds are modern, while most are smaller and rustic. The campgrounds highlighted here are a selection of some of the most popular options. You can find more campgrounds by visiting the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest website.

Crystal Lake Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in the forest. This is a modern family campground that is great for RV campers interested in boating and fishing. The 117 sites at the campground do not have electrical hookups. The campground is situated right on the beach, giving you quick access to the water. There are vault toilets and pumps for drinking water, as well as a modern restrooms with flush toilets and showers. The campground does not allow pets.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First-Served

Most of the sites can be reserved in advance running from May through Labor Day. They then become first-come, first-served during the off-season.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Northern Highland American Legion State Forest

In-Season

Fishing

The 900 lakes and hundreds of miles of streams and rivers give anglers a near endless number of fishing opportunities. You’ll be able to catch a wide range of species, including bluegill, northern pike, perch, walleye, panfish, large and smallmouth bass, and black crappie.

Many of the lakes in the forest have boat launches, including at Crystal Lake, the most popular campground in the area. You can also find a number of fishing piers should you want to fish from the shore.

Boating

There are over 900 lakes located in the Northern HIghlands American Legion State Forest, making boating one of the most popular reasons for visiting the park in your camper or trailer. Explore the shaded green shorelines by kayak or canoe to see a wide range of bird species.

Although not all of the lakes in the forest allow motorized boats, many do, giving you plenty of opportunities for water sports. Most of the large lakes in the area have boat launches, such as at Crystal Lake.

Biking

If you want to explore the forest by bike, you’ll find hundreds of miles of trails. Every road and trail is open to mountain biking except for the nature trails, as well as Trout Lake, Fallison, Star Lake, and Raven’s trail. If you want a smoother ride, you can take the Bearskin State Trail, which has a paved surface.

If you are biking on one of the park’s designated biking trails you’ll need a state trail pass, which can be purchased at the trail heads. Take caution while biking, as the trails are shared with hikers.

Off-Season

Cross-Country Skiing

The hundreds of miles of hiking trails turn into an extensive cross-country skiing course when snow begins to fall. There is a wide variety of terrain types, as well as multiple trails with elevation changes.

With so many miles of trails, park officials leave many of them ungroomed. Check with the park office for more information on which trails are currently groomed. The park does not offer rentals, but there are a number of sports shops in the area that do.

Ice Fishing

The 900 lakes found in the forest mean that you’ll have a range of ice fishing opportunities whenever you visit the park in your rig during the winter. You’ll find species such as panfish, bluegill, perch, and northern pike in the lakes dotted throughout the forest. Just make sure that you pack plenty of layers.

Park officials cannot guarantee the safety of the ice of hundreds of lakes, meaning you venture out onto the ice at your own peril. Try to get up to date information on the ice before fishing, as conditions change quite quickly.

Birdwatching

The 220,000 acres of forest are home to over 200 different bird species, making the park an excellent destination for birdwatching. Bald eagles are a common sight in the park, as are ospreys and loons. The forest is home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of bald eagle nesting sites, so you may also be able to see hatchlings.

There are many audubon groups in Wisconsin, many of which produce educational information on the bird species found in the area near the park. Check their websites for bird checklists and field guides. You can also get more information from the park office.

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