Big Woods Forest

This was the most common type of forest in Rice County at the time of Euroamerican settlement in the 1850s. Today this forest is dominated by sugar maple and basswood and you will also see many red oak. Look also for white and green ash, black walnut, and even a few sulfur-bud hickory. Elm used to be the most important tree in this forest but was virtually eliminated by Dutch Elm disease. The forest floor is home to a rich array of ferns and spring ephemerals. Spring ephemerals grow, flower and go dormant in just two months (April-May) taking advantage of fact that leaves on trees are not fully expanded. Common spring ephemerals include trout lily, spring beauty, trillium and hepatica. Approximately 60% of the Cannon River Wilderness Area is lowland forest.