Field Trips

“Paddle the Pearls” Freshwater Estuary Ed-Venture

Photos courtesy of Cathy Techtmann

Your ed-venture will primarily be conducted within the Fish Creek and its estuary.  We will make frequent stops along our paddle to discuss the ecology and history of this freshwater estuary.  The water in the Fish Creek Estuary normally quite shallow, but with a moderate, but gentle current. Conditions permitting, we will paddle Lake Superior’s shoreline to the Whittlesey Creek Esutary and National Wildlife Refuge to investigate this unique estuary. Eagles, and a variety of shorebirds and ducks, are commonly seen along this section.

Difficulty:  Moderate. We will provide paddles, life jackets, and kayaks and teach you how to safely use them.  You will be paddling a safe, stable double seater kayak with another person. No kayaking experience is necessary!

When:  Friday, Sept. 7, 1:00-4:00

Leader:   Cathy Techtmann, Professor of Community Resource Development and the University of Wisconsin-Extension Environmental Outreach State Specialist.

Maximum number of participants:  14 without boats, 5-6 more with own kayaks

What to bring/wear: Every participant must have a signed waiver and completed health form, which will be provided ahead of time.  Please bring these with you on the day of your trip.  Please let us know prior to your trip departure if you or any member of your group needs any special accommodation or has health needs we should be aware of.

Other things to bring:  a hat for protection from the sun, sunscreen, bug repellent, raingear, and drinking water are recommended.  Other optional items: sunglasses, camera, binoculars, field guides. Placing your gear in a waterproof bag will protect it from damage.

Lake Superior weather conditions are very changeable. Come prepared for paddling in either rain or shine conditions.  Water and wind temperatures on Lake Superior can be cold, but within the sheltered Fish Creek Estuary temperatures can be much warmer. We recommend layering your clothing so you can shed clothes if temperatures are warm or add layers if needed.  You can expect to get wet up to mid-thigh level. Closed toed water shoes or old tennis shoes are required for foot protection! No open toed sandals or flip-flops please!!


Frog Bay Tribal National Park

Hike along 1.5-2 miles of trail within the first Tribal National Park in the country. The trail winds through boreal forest and along the Lake Superior shore, offering views of Basswood, Oak, Hermit, Raspberry, and Stockton Islands.  Learn about the history of the park’s creation and its ecology from Red Cliff natural resource professionals. The park and the adjacent Frog Creek Conservation Management Area, owned and managed by the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, protect nearly300 acres around Frog Bay.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate 1.5-2 mile hike

When: Friday, Sept. 7, 1:00-4:00

Leader: Chad Abel, Division Administrator, Treaty Natural Resources Division, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa;  and/or Gabrielle VanBergen, Water Resources Program Manager, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Maximum number of participants: 20

What to bring/wear: Hat, sunscreen, bug spray, drinking water, rain gear, hiking footwear.


Wetlands of the Penokee Hills

Join us on a journey to one of Wisconsin’s highest quality watersheds. This tour will take us to the headwaters of Bull Gus Creek, a cold water tributary to the Bad River in the Penokee Hills. We’ll learn about the importance of upper watershed wetlands for capturing runoff, recharging groundwater, and supporting trout and wildlife habitat. We’ll discuss the role of forest management and examine the role of beavers in these watersheds. Participants will see several different kinds of wetlands, including large beaver ponds. This tour will visit Iron County Forest land that would have been affected by the development of a large open-pit iron mine. The mine proposal was dropped, so this area remains in good condition.

Difficulty:  Moderate. There will be walking and hiking on uneven ground and some wet areas. There are no bathroom facilities at the site.

When: Sunday, Sept. 9, 9:00-2:00

Leader:   Tracey Hames, Executive Director of Wisconsin Wetlands Association

Maximum number of participants:  20

What to bring/wear: Hat, sunscreen, bug spray, drinking water, snack or lunch, layered clothes, rain gear, hiking footwear that can get wet (knee boots preferred), cameras, binoculars, etc.


Post-Flood Watershed Analysis and Culvert Restoration

Learn about the findings of a recently completed culvert survivability study and view first-hand a successfully restored stream crossing. The study examined landscape type, slope, vegetative cover, wetland extent, land use, existing infrastructure, and other characteristics to help explain why some culverts survived the catastrophic flooding event in 2016 that destroyed over 100 stream crossings in the region. The long-term goal of the study is to identify region-specific road/stream crossing design metrics and land use practices that will reduce future flood damage.

Following an indoor presentation at the Visitor Center, we will visit a nearby culvert restored after the 2016 flood event that exemplifies design features to improve resiliency in the event of future high flows.

Difficulty: Easy. Indoor presentation followed by drive to nearby culvert restoration project, and short, easy hike.

When: Sunday, Sept. 9, 9:00-12:00

Leader: Kevin Brewster, Watershed Restoration Manager of the Superior Rivers Watershed Association

Maximum number of participants:  20

What to bring/wear: Insect repellent, hat, sunscreen.