Located within Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, Pine Cliff features an unusual southern pine relict community perched atop several sandstone cliffs and adjacent north-facing slopes. Although one of many small relicts known in this area, Pine Cliff is important because all three species of pine native to the state, red, white, and jack, occur here together, disjunct from their typical range in Wisconsin.
White pine dominates the site, but red and jack pines grow on the exposed, droughty summit. All three are successfully reproducing.
More mesic north-facing slopes provide suitable habitat for numerous ferns, mosses, and lichens, particularly the noticeable smooth rock tripe.
Away from the cliffs is a southern dry-mesic forest composed of red oak, white oak, basswood, white birch, and black cherry. The pines supply habitat for more northernly bird species including black-throated green and blackburnian warblers.