State Forests

Hill River State Forest


Forest Landscape: The area is rolling and hilly in the western and northern portions of the forest. Scattered islands of high ground are located in the marshland east of Highway 169 and south of Highway 200. The varied landforms are the result of past glacial activity. The Hill and Willow rivers flow through the forest before emptying into the Mississippi. Northern hardwood stands composed of maple, oak, ash, elm, and basswood cover much of the highland area in the state forest. Aspen and paper birch are also common cover types. The lowlands support stands of black spruce, tamarack, and cedar.

Management Activities: DNR Forestry manages 78,772 acres of the total 124,204 acres. The Division of Fish and Wildlife administers the Moose Willow Wildlife Management Area (WMA), located within the state forest boundaries. The remaining land is either managed by Aitkin County or privately owned. Management activities in the Hill River State Forest include tree planting, timber stand improvement, and timber harvesting. Accomplishments include an improved timber stand and an annual harvest of about 15,000 cords of timber per year.

History: During the late 1800s millions of board feet of virgin red and white pine were cut from the highlands in the northwestern portion of the forest. The logs were rafted down the Hill, Willow, and Mississippi rivers to sawmills in Brainerd. Settlement began soon after the land was cleared by logging. In the 1920s a network of ditches was constructed in an attempt to drain the marshes for cultivation, and many farms were abandoned in the 1930s. Many of the roads that provide access to Hill River State Forest today were constructed on the ditch banks. The Hills River State Forest was established by the Minnesota Legislature in 1963.

Acres: 124,204

Year Estab: 1963


Rare Species Guide:


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