Kemp Natural Resources Station - Nature Trail

Kemp Natural Resources Station - Nature Trail

Woodruff, Wisconsin 54568, United States

Created By: UW-Madison

Tour Information

Welcome to Kemp Natural Resources Station's Nature Trail!

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Welcome to Kemp Station!  Stop #1 on our walk is the Pavilion & Welcome Center. This building was originally a carport used by the Kemp Family. Now it is used as a place for groups to gather and for visitors to get oriented to the prop... Read more
Wisconsin is home to 8 species of bats. Bats roost during the day and forage at night, eating thousands of insects. Kemp’s bat houses provides safe roosting and convenient access to water and food. 2N 45° 50.421'W 89° 40.680' ...
Leatherwood is a woody shrub common at Kemp. The wood of leatherwood is quite brittle but its bark it tough and flexible, like leather. It blooms early in spring, with yellow flowers. Watch for more leatherwood as you continue on your hike.... Read more
In August 2000 a wind-shear significantly altered the forest at Kemp. Many trees were broken off or blown down, resulting in “tip ups.” As you continue your hike, you will notice many trees lying on their sides, with roots exposed and a... Read more
What effect does sunlight have on and in the forest? Prior to the storm of 2000, the forest floor received little light, so there was little or no ground cover. But trees fell during the storm creating gaps in the forest canopy. Sunlight en... Read more
Wisconsin’s largest woodpecker, the pileated woodpecker, is found at Kemp. If you don’t see one “live and in person,” you may hear it’s loud “kak-kak-kak” call or at least see the results of its search for insects, as evidence... Read more
Two more common features of Kemp’s old-growth, hemlock-hardwood forest are ferns and club-mosses. Ferns thrive in shady, cool, damp areas. You will see several ferns on your hike, including Cinnamon Fern, Interrupted Fern, Oak Fern, Long ... Read more
See trees growing on the tip up? These are yellow birch saplings. Yellow birch seeds need exposed soil like that created by this tip up to germinate and grow. Keep an eye out for more yellow birch seedlings in the forest. 8N 45° 50.461'W 8... Read more
There’s a lot to take in here and along the stretch of trail just ahead. First, check the water's edge for marsh milkweed and it's pretty pink flowers. You may see water birds, such as ducks or an eagle or osprey flying over this bay in s... Read more
Take these steps and follow the path to a deer exclosure. In 2001 ten of these exclosures were established on Kemp property to study the impact of deer browse on vegetation. This particular exclosure is quite dramatic, showing the growth of... Read more
Here you will notice a lot of open sky. You are next to the “Blowdown,” a 5-acre patch of forest flattened by the 2000 storm. Again the impact of light can be seen with the small hemlocks growing here at the edge of the trail. Hemlock ... Read more
Kemp is one of several sites in Wisconsin that hosts a bat monitoring station. Powered by the sun, special equipment records the echolocation signals emitted by bats flying in the area. Each month we upload the data to bat ecologists with t... Read more
From here to the road, you will be walking on a well-established deer trail. The nature trail once led through the dark hemlock forest to the road, but that leg is now buried beneath the tangle of the Blowdown. Instead, enjoy the view to yo... Read more
Follow the grassy path to Jyme Lake, a small bog typical of northern Wisconsin. Follow the boardwalk to get a closer look. The floating mat of vegetation surrounding the open water is comprised of sedges, sphagnum mosses and unique bog pla... Read more
The blowdown is a unique feature at Kemp. Created during a storm in 2000, notice the obvious break in the once continuous hemlock forest. This natural opening is a wellspring of diversity – tree snags provide wildlife cavities and insect... Read more
As you return to the forest, make note of the branches and logs that lay about on the forest floor. This is referred to as “coarse woody debris” or CWD. Nutrients in the wood are recycled and the CWD provides food and nutrients for a wi... Read more
Take time to admire this grand old yellow birch. It is about 150 years old. According to the Wisconsin DNR's forest data report in 2019, "The volume of yellow birch has increased 23% since 1983 but remained largely unchanged in the last two... Read more
Lightening is another powerful force of nature. Notice the spiral scar on this tree, the charred wood from the heat, and the shattered pieces of tree lying about. What looks like destruction is actually creation – such strikes create cavi... Read more
“The Green Room” was given its name by botanist, Libby Zimmerman, who has been visiting Kemp for many years. She discovered this small kettle hole in the forest, filled with sphagnum moss. Imagine a giant block of ice sitting here 15 th... Read more
45°50'15.7"N 89°40'21.5"W 20N 45° 50.262'W 89° 40.359'
When trees come down in a forest, gaps are created in the tree canopy that lets in the sunlight. Seeds that have been in the soil for many years respond to the sunlight and grow. The wild raspberry is a pioneer or early successional plant. ... Read more
Does a hollow log have a story? You bet! Imagine a small, slow-moving surface fire making its way through the forest, scarring trees in its path. Later, fungus moves in where the tree was injured by the fire, making the tree weaker in spots... Read more
From this point you have a nice view of Tomahawk Lake. It is 3,462 acres in size and is part of the Minocqua chain. It is an oligotrophic lake, meaning it is nutrient poor and the water is clear. Northern Wisconsin has one of the highest co... Read more
The fire story continues … can you find the fire scar at the base of this tree? The scar forms on the opposite side of the tree from where the fire started. Try to find other fire scars on nearby trees. 25N 45° 50.252'W 89° 40.445' ...
Notice the cubical shape of the decaying wood on this old tree. This is what's known as brown-rot. A particular brown-rot fungi is at work here, breaking down the cellulose in the wood's structure. During this process, the wood shrinks, tur... Read more
This is one of several long-term vegetation plots located on Kemp property. It was established in 1979 by UW-Madison botany faculty member, James Zimmerman ("Jim Zim"), to monitor the dynamics of forest understory plants. Such long-term res... Read more
At this point, you can decide to take one of two routes. If you take the more difficult trail to the left, you will walk a narrow ridge along the lakeshore where you may see otter scat and harebells in bloom. Or take the easier trail to the... Read more
One more deer exclosure before leaving the forest. The white pines outside the exclosure have been browsed by deer, while the trees inside the fencing, especially the hemlock, are thriving. 28N 45° 50.295'W 89° 40.658'
After the Mead Residence Hall was constructed, this area was newly exposed to more sun. For a few years, trilliums grew here, a plant not seen at Kemp for a couple decades. Today we find young conifers -- balsam fir and white pine -- in thi... Read more
This basswood tree is our last stop before returning to the Pavilion. Notice the multiple trunks, which is characteristic of this fast-growing tree. Fragrant flowers in the spring attract bees. If you look around, you may find the pea-sized... Read more


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