Van Loon Floodplain Forest, SNA #568 (233/679)

Van Loon Floodplain Forest is comprised of two parcels of floodplain forest amidst sloughs and channels on the eastern shore of the Black River on either side of STH 35.  It can be reached from a boat landing on the south side of STH 35.  The southern parcel lies just 200 feet further south while the norther parcel is approximately 1/3 north of the highway.  A kayak or canoe may be another way to approach this site but it was not necessary.  Slightly over 1 mile north is found Van Loon Floodplain Savanna, the subject of tomorrow’s blog post.  Both natural areas are part of the Van Loon Wildlife Area

I spent my time epxloring the southern parcel.  In the boat launch parking area, I was treated to dozens of eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies with several giant swallowtails mixed in, all taking up minerals from the gravelly substrate.  A dark and brooding aura hung below the the mature forest canopy.  Scant openings were found in the areas I explored, but there cut-leaved coneflower and cardinal flower were found.  The deep red hue of the cardinal flower is unlike any I have observed.  This species is a treat to see whenever I am able to find it.  Low spots that would be filled with water earlier in the year or in wetter years were noted, but were simply damp depressions on this day.  Of slight discomfort was the omnipresence of wood nettle, which always seems to catch me just below the kneecap.  With the beauty of the forest all around, it is easy to forget the temporary  sting.  I can envision this site being more interesting earlier and later in the year as well.  As the seasons change, so do the sights and sounds of nature.

More of my photos (and full-res) from Van Loon Floodplain Forest can be viewed here.

Additional Information

SNA # 568
County La Crosse
Natural Communities / Geology  Floodplain Forest, Slough, River
Size (Acres) 317
Parking Boat Launch
Trails No
Easy to Find Yes
Best Seen By Foot
Marked Boundaries No
Ownership Wisconsin DNR
Located Within Van Loon Wildlife Area
Dates Visited 7.30.11

La Crosse
La Crosse County
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