A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

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Perrot State Park is a Wisconsin state park on the Mississippi River in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. This 1,212-acre park offers visitors over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails with scenic views of the river valley.

A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

Perrot State Park is home to many different species of wildlife including whitetail deer and coyote. If you are looking for an escape from the city without traveling too far away then this might be just what you need!

A Complete Guide To Perrot State Park

As one of Wisconsin’s Western region parks, Perrot State Park offers visitors a chance to experience the Mississippi River at its best. The park is best known for its beautiful scenery, diverse wildlife, and four hiking trails that traverse through forests on both sides of the river valley.

History of Perrot State Park

As one of the oldest state parks in Wisconsin, Perrot State Park has a rich history. It was originally formed underground before the waters receded. Then the glaciers padded, though, shearing the tops off of the bluffs and rerouting the Mississippi from one side of the park to the other.

The park’s human history goes back over 7,000 years, starting with the Archaic Indians who passed through here on their way to various hunting grounds. Many other tribes have also utilized this area, building effigy mounds that are still visible today.

In the late 1600s, the French fur trade brought Indians and French together here. French explorer Nicholas Perrot spent the winter in the area in 1685 and 45 years later, the French established a permanent fort on the site. The park was eventually named after Perrot.

In the early 1900s, local citizens were determined to keep Perrot State Park safe and thriving. The park was established in 1907 when they donated land for its protection. By 1915, a dam had been built across the Mississippi River near Hastings creating an artificial lake that would become known as Lake Perrot.

The park was established after Winona-based businessman John Latsch donated 880 acres to the state, asking that the park be named for French fur trader Nicholas Perrot, who set up trading with local tribes in the area in the 1600s.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a work relief program that gave millions of young men employment on environmental projects during the Great Depression.

In the summer of 1935, construction began on the new camp at Perrot State Park by the 2606th company of the CCC. By October of the same year, the final personnel was stationed at the camp.

The company’s first project was transplanting trees from an area of the park which was to be flooded due to the construction of the lock and dam in Trempealeau. The trees were used in other areas of this and other state parks. Perrot State Park was officially opened on June 25, 1936.

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Perrot State Park’s Effigy Mounds

There are several different ones at Perrot State Park, and they are all worth the visit.

Effigy Mound is a Native American burial monument made from earth or stones. These types of mounds were created during prehistoric times to honor their ancestors who did great things for them in life, such as being chief, an important member of society, warrior heroes

If you drive into the park following riverbank road from Trempealeau, the first group of mounds will be to your left just before you reach the park office. There are 11 conical mounds, nicely scattered on both sides of the trail.

Further down the road, next to the parking lot just before you reach the Nature Center, is the best-marked group of mounds in the park.

This seems to be the Trowbridge Group. Find the trail starting at the parking lot and marked with the “Interpretive trail” icon (it doesn’t explicitly mention mounds). Just down the path, you’ll see marked deer and wolf effigies, one conical mound on the right side of the trail, and 4 unmarked conical mounds on the left side.

Effigies look very low and degraded, beaten by time. But on the bright side, the entire group is covered with a thick mat of grass, preventing further erosion by elements.

Please remember that these are sacred spaces – used for either burial or ceremonial purposes, and they are not meant to be walked on.

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Perrot State Park Camping

*****Update: August 2022
We were there last weekend, and the water isn’t safe to drink if you are a kid or pregnant. Signs are posted everywhere so make sure to pack your own water in. Also, the bathrooms and shower rooms are in desperate need of updates… we took cold showers – Brr!

Perrot State Park offers 102 family campsites and four walk-in group campsites. The family campground has flush toilets, showers, and a dump station in prime season.

All of the group sites will accommodate at least 20 campers. At this group camp area, there is a vault toilet and drinking water. Carts are available for moving equipment from the parking lot to the campsites. Camping fees are charged on a per-night basis, and reservations may be made by calling the Perrot State Park office.

We do not recommend this area for families with children under 16 years of age. The trails are rugged and steep in many places along the river banks which makes them dangerous for hiking or biking.

Family Campground Map

Perrot State Park Activities

The campground is known for its natural, archaeological, and historical resources. Perrot is a day-use park, with camping available in the campground.

We recommend visitors to explore the Mississippi River and nearby towns on bike or foot. Perrot contains over 25 miles of hiking trails through diverse habitats which range from woodland forests to open sand dunes and wet prairies.

Perrot water sports

Enthusiasts will enjoy the water access to swim, canoe, and kayaking. Personally? I love the Voyageurs 3.4 mile long Canoe Trail!

Voyageurs were French Canadian explorers that came to this area in the mid-1600s to expand the fur trade. Canoes were their primary means of transportation. Explore Trempealeau Bay as the voyageurs did on our 3.4-mile looped canoe trail. The trail is marked by blue/white directional signs and takes about 2-3 hours to complete.

Perrot State Park Fishing

Perrot State Park is a great destination for anglers. The Mississippi River and the Trempealeau Bay are both excellent fishing areas with good numbers of bass, panfish, perch, catfish, walleye, and northern pike available year-round.

Shoreline fishing is an option. Note that the Trempealeau River is shallow as it passes by the park and water levels change throughout the year. Fishing in Trempealeau Bay varies depending upon the time of year and changing water levels. Nearby are other areas that provide shore fishing opportunities as well as boat access.

Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the park office. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program. Call the park office to find out what equipment is available.

Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year round.

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Perrot State Park Swimming

Sorry, there really isn’t a place to swim here – but there is a beach area on the Mississippi River.

Perrot State Park Kayaking

There is a boat landing on the Trempealeau River, which gives access to Trempealeau Bay and the Mississippi River under a railroad bridge.

A specially adapted kayak is available for use by people with disabilities. Please call the park to make arrangements. We love that!

Canoes and kayaks are available to rent at the park headquarters.

Hiking at Perrot State Park

The park has 12.5 miles of hiking trails. Many of the trails take you up to the top of the bluffs and give you a unique opportunity to enjoy scenic views of the Mississippi River valley.

The bluff trails have steep climbs and some have steps or stairways. For a closer view of the river and Trempealeau Bay, hike the Riverview trail, which travels the entire length of the park.

Black Walnut nature trail (0.5 miles)

The Black Walnut nature trail is a loop that takes you through the woods and explains why black walnuts are so nutritious with 20 interpretive stops. Guides are available at the trailhead. Find out how Native Americans lived in this area. The trail is relatively flat and is covered with wood chips.

Brady’s Bluff trail – north (1.0 mile)

Hike from park shop to the top of the bluff. The Brady’s Bluff trail (north) is the steepest trail in Perrot State Park.

Brady’s Bluff trail – west (0.5 miles)

Start your hike at Brady’s parking lot above the boat landing. As you travel along this winding trail up to the goat prairie at the top of the bluff, look for the rock steps and walls that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s.

The wooden stairway was constructed in 1995 by the Wisconsin Conservation Corps. As you take each step, imagine carrying up the materials and tools to build these stairs. As you approach the top of the bluff to enjoy the views of Trempealeau Mountain and Trempealeau Bay, you will encounter a shelter building also constructed by the CCC.

Take a break in the shade of the shelter and maybe a turkey vulture or eagle will soar by. The trail is narrow and steep and you will encounter steps and a stairway.

Great River State Trail

Perrot State Park is adjacent to the 24 mile Great River State Trail, where you can bicycle or snowmobile as well as hike and snowshoe.

Perrot Ridge trail (1.5 miles)

Start your hike at the Mounds parking lot near the park headquarters. Meander through the lower prairie, and climb stairs up to the top of the ridge and enjoy views of the river, Trempealeau Bay, and the surrounding farmlands.

Travel along a narrow trail at the top of the bluff and head back down past the Perrot historical marker where you can learn about Nicholas Perrot, who traveled and camped in this area in 1685. The trail is steep and you will encounter some stairs.

Riverview trail (2.5 miles)

Walk along the water’s edge with close-up views of the Mississippi and Trempealeau rivers. This trail goes from the campground to the east entrance with access to the trail at any of the parking lots. The trail is relatively flat, with some steps, but no steep climbs.

Perrot State Park Trail Map

perrot state park hiking map

Perrot State Park Nature Center

Take in a variety of live animal displays, educational exhibits, and children’s activities. This is the perfect spot for young families to explore nature together or for school groups that are looking to get connected with local flora and fauna.

We love the Wisconsin Explorer Books that have nature activities, scavenger hunts, games, hikes, and crafts.

Visitors will also find free Wi-Fi access on site which is always a plus.

Perrot State Park Rock Climbing

The Perrot State Park “mountain” is a great spot for outdoor rock climbing. With three trails to the summit, any time of year is a great time to visit Brady’s Bluff. Visitors will find free Wi-Fi access on site which is always nice when you’re out exploring nature with your friends or family and want to share photos!

Golfing in the area

Trempealeau Mountain Golf Club is the place you want to check out. With its newly remodeled clubhouse, courses, and pro shop you’ll feel right at home.

Perrot State Park Hunting

For those who would like to supplement their diet with some fresh meat, Perrot State Park is a great place for hunting. The park has two designated areas for hunters and they even offers guided hunts!

Perrot State Park in Winter

A visit in the winter is a little different than the summer but all the more adventurous. Visitors will find many trails to explore, ice fishing holes that are open for a limited time, and cross-country skiing.

If you’re up for it!

winter in peninsula state park

When snow conditions permit, nine miles of trail are groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing. Skate skiing is allowed only on a one-mile section of trail in the campground. Each skier age 16 and older must have a state trail pass when the trails are groomed. Hiking, snowshoeing, and pets are not allowed on groomed ski trails.

Snowshoeing at Perrot State Park

Snowshoeing is allowed on any trail that is not groomed for skiing. The Black Walnut nature trail, Riverview trail, Brady’s Bluff east and west trails, and sections of the Perrot Ridge trail are open for snowshoeing and winter hiking. Snowshoes are available for rent at the park headquarters.

The Park does not monitor ice conditions on the rivers. Be extremely cautious of ice conditions at all times.

When out snowshoeing you can look for signs of wildlife. Be sure to have bear spray with you and enjoy the outdoors!

If you are a beginner, the park offers snowshoe rentals.

Skiing at Perrot

Maybe snowshoeing isn’t your thing but skiing is . Perrot State Park has groomed cross-country ski trails that make for a fun day of exploring the outdoors.

The park also offers rental equipment if you do not have your own gear.

Most of the trails we covered for hiking on are converted to either cross country or snowshoeing trails i the winter.

Perrot State Park and Dogs

Let’s start with the obvious: dogs shouldn’t be left unattended and you should pick up the poop. Waste should be disposed of in dumpsters or trash receptacles.

Dogs are allowed in most campgrounds, trails, roads, and outlying areas of the parks. They must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet at all times, if they are not under control at all times, they can be seized and subject to local laws pertaining to stray animals.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Winona Area Humane Society at (507) 452-3135.

Rabies could be a thing as there are wild animals like raccoons your pooch could come in contact with so make sure your pooch has all current vaccinations.

Many large and small animals inhabit the park. Beaver, muskrats, mink, and occasionally otters are found in wetland areas. Deer, raccoons, woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, fox, weasels, many species of mice, shrews, and bats have all been spotted at Perrot.

Restaurants Near Perrot State Park

If you’re in the area and need a place to eat, there are some good options for restaurants that are close by Perrott.

Sullivan’s Supper Club

This Irish-themed riverfront eatery doling out steak, seafood & burgers in casual environs with a patio. Keep in mind that supper clubs are only open for supper. W25709 Sullivan Rd, Trempealeau, WI 54661

River Cafe

Their diverse menu consists of traditional breakfast and lunch items, healthy choices, and vegetarian food. You MUST try the homemade pies! W27296 Highway HH, Trempealeau, WI 54661

The Historic Trempealeau Hotel, Restaurant, and Saloon

The bluff views are second to none while the atmosphere has authentic river charm. The farm-to-table fare ranges from comfort classics to adventurous. 11332 Main St, Trempealeau, WI 54661

Places To Stay Nearby

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