Moon Ridge Trail Area

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Welcome to the Moonridge Trail area of the Chippewa County Forest. This area makes up about 7,800 of the 33,653-acre County Forest.

As is true with most of the County Forest, this area shows evidence of past glaciations. The topography is rolling with scattered ponds, swamps, and wetlands in the low areas. Northern hardwood stands, composed mainly of red maple, basswood, white ash, and sugar maple dominate this area of the County Forest.

The County Forest, administered jointly by the Chippewa County Forest and Parks Department and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, originated largely from land forfeited for tax delinquency in the 1930's. Administration and supervision is provided by the County Forest and Parks Committee and the County Forest Administrator. DNR foresters and game managers provide technical assistance to enhance recreation, wildlife, and timber management in the County Forest.

Since northern hardwoods are the major forest type, most of the tree harvesting done in the area is accomplished through selective thinning. Maple, basswood, ash and other hardwoods are capable of regenerating under their own shade which makes clear cutting unnecessary to maintain these stands. Stands of timber are thinned every 15 to 20 years removing defective, diseased, and over-mature trees. These thinnings can go on virtually indefinitely, with the end result being a forest in which all age and size classes of trees are present. In some areas, white pine have been planted under standing timber, in an effort to reestablish the original forest type of the area. There are a few smaller stands of aspen and birch, which will be harvested by clear cutting. Although this practice is aesthetically less pleasing than thinnings, and radically alters the landscape, it is necessary to regenerate these stands. These smaller clear cuts interspersed among the stands of hardwood, provide and excellent variety of habitats beneficial to a large number of wildlife (bird and animal) species.

Also present in the area are several flowages which provide habitat for nesting and migrating waterfowl and other wildlife. The water levels in these flowages are monitored and maintained to best benefit wildlife. Chippewa County, in cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists, erects and monitors wood duck nest boxes on these flowages. This, in an effort to provide critical nesting habitat. You may notice the boxes as you drive by on the Moonridge Trail. These flowages also offer homes for many other species of birds and animals. It is not uncommon to view muskrat and beaver on many of the flowages. And one flowage in this area provided a home for a pair of osprey in 1992.

There are many trails and roads which access this area, some of which are gated to restrict vehicle traffic, and to reduce damage to the trail. Most of the trails are the result of past logging activity and are merely dead-end. Others loop and connect with other trails, which come back out to the Moonridge Trail. A segment of the Ice Age Trail, which crosses 20 miles of County Forest land, also winds its way through this area of the County Forest.

The County Forest is your to enjoy. Recreational opportunities include hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, snowmobiling, bird watching, mushrooming, and cross-country skiing. Other opportunities include firewood cutting and timber harvesting. Please be careful with fire and avoid littering. For more information, contact the Chippewa County Land Conservation and Forest Management Department, 711 North Bridge Street, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729 or call us at (715) 726-7920.

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