Van Loon Floodplain Savanna is, as its siter site Van Loon Floodplain Forest, found within the Van Loon Wildlife Area along the Black River in La Crosse County. The access directions as described on the DNR site, are not recommended to put it mildly. They describe walking 1 mile along the Seven Bridges trail and then north approximately 1/3 mile to the southern boundary of the site. Frankly, that 1/3 mile looks fairly ominous with sloughs and wet areas standing between you and the natural area. I would not personally recommend this approach. Instead, put a canoe or kayak in at the boat launch near the northern boundary and paddle west or southwest on the Black River or one of its channels to reach the site.
My brother and I first tried to approach the site from the south along the Seven Bridges trail. With only a few feet under our belts, we were turned back by high water on the trail and even higher water off of it. Next, we headed for the northern edge of the site via a boat launch and parking area. Here too, high water precluded much progress into the site, but we did see a number of American bellflowers, black-eyed susans, and wild bergamot. I mentally noted that a boat would be a preferred method of conveyance for exploring this site. With that, it was over 4 years before I was able to make a return venture here. We put kayaks in at the aforementioned boat launch and paddled downstream to the site. As this was late October, the river was quite low and navigating around and in some cases over, sandbars was the most difficult part of the journey. As expected, the highlight were the soothing hues of autumn and the crinkling of the leaves under foot. Seeds and seed pods beckoned for next year and the setting sun signaled the time for our depature. Even with the return visit in hand, I still feel that this massive natural area has more to offer and look forward to a springtime visit in the future.
More of my photos (and full-res) from Van Loon Floodplain Savanna can be viewed here.
|Natural Communities / Geology||Savanna, River|
|Parking||Boat Launch, Parking Area|
|Easy to Find||No|
|Best Seen By||Foot; Access by Kayak/Canoe|
|Located Within||Van Loon Wildlife Area|
|Dates Visited||7.30.11 / 10.25.15|