Complete Guide to Amnicon Falls State Park
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Amnicon Falls State Park is in Wisconsin’s far northwest region, east of the South Range area, in Douglas County. You can drive to Amnicon Falls State Park from Superior or Duluth in under thirty minutes. People frequently visit Amnicon Falls State Park in conjunction with nearby Pattison State Park.
Although Amnicon Falls State Park is on the smaller side with only 850 acres, there are many activities for you to enjoy inside the park. Amnicon Falls State Park’s main attractions are the four named waterfalls located here. Unlike other waterfall locations, you can get so near to a waterfall in this park that you can feel the spray on your face.
Take a leisurely stroll along the hiking routes and photograph the waterfalls set against a stunning backdrop. Bring food for a cookout and use the Park’s Day-Use area to enjoy lunch outdoors. Amnicon Falls State Park is a family-friendly destination with something for everyone.
You can pop in for a brief visit and explore the entire park in an hour, or camp overnight. Here is the complete guide for exploring Amnicon Falls State Park whenever you find yourself in the South Range Area.
Native Americans and Amnicon Falls State Park
Wisconsin’s Native Americans began settling in the Amnicon Falls State Park area as glaciers receded millions of years ago. Native Americans made tools and weapons out of the copper they found in the rocks along the Amnicon riverbanks.
After 500 A.D., Native American Woodland Tribes made this area their home. Members of the Ojibwa tribe were the first people European explorers encountered and traded with. As a result of the Westward Expansion, this area became part of Wisconsin State.
However, Native Americans continue to live here and play a key role in the conservation of wildlife. The name Amnicon comes from the Ojibwe word “aminikan” which means “where fish spawn”.
History of Amnicon Falls State Park
Amnicon Falls State Park began as a privately owned park. Pioneer Jack Bardon bought the property around the Amnicon River in the mid-1800s. During this period, copper miners and lumberjacks began to operate in the area as well. Copper miners unsuccessfully tried to mine the rock outcroppings along the Amnicon River for copper.
Lumberjacks chopped down trees for logs and used the Amnicon River to transport the logs to Lake Superior. Through the years, Amnicon Falls State Park gained acreage as the Wisconsin State Department took ownership of the park. Wisconsin State purchased the final acreage in 1977, resulting in today’s Amnicon Falls State Park.
The Railroad and Amnicon Falls State Park
In the 1800s the US Government gave the land in this area to States. As an incentive to build a railroad, the US Government donated land to the Omaha Railroad Company in 1848.
The Omaha Railroad Company built a track between Superior, Wisconsin, and Ashland, Wisconsin. Beginning in 1885 the Omaha Railroad passed through the Amnicon State Falls area.
Douglas Fault of Amnicon Falls State Park
The Douglas Fault runs through Amnicon Falls State Park, making this park historically significant. Geologists and other people travel to this location to study and monitor the Douglas Fault. The Douglas Fault was the epicenter of a half-billion-year-old earthquake. The Douglas Fault extends from Ashland, Wisconsin, to Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
The Douglas Fault’s earthquake triggered a collision between the volcanic basalt rock and sedimentary rock, resulting in the Amnicon Falls. The earthquake caused the rocks to crash and divide into cliffs, which resulted in the formation of waterfalls along the Douglas Fault line.
Pick up a trail guide pamphlet from the Amnicon Falls State Park Office and discover how Amnicon Falls State Park’s geologic past shaped the park’s beautiful terrain.
Amnicon Falls State Park Activities
Immerse yourself in Amnicon Park’s unique outdoor environment by wading in the river and exploring waterfalls. Amnicon Lake is the source of the warm water Amnicon River, which flows northeast to Lake Superior. The Amnicon River drops 160 feet within the Park’s boundaries. Above the Amnicon Falls, the Amnicon River contains several short drops. The Amnicon River separates into two streams within the park. Tannins from decaying vegetation “stain” the water and give the water its root-beer color.
Amnicon Park’s four waterfalls are the Upper Falls, the Lower Falls, Now and Then Falls, and Snake Pit Falls. The first three waterfalls may be accessed from the parking lot area. Aptly named Now and Then Falls is an intermittent waterfall that only flows in the spring and after a good rainfall.
Take a Selfie at the Selfie Station at Amnicon Falls State Park. The selfie station is located downstream from the bridge and Lower Falls. The Selfie Stand sits next to a path.
View the waterfalls from the historic “Horton Bridge,” a 55-foot covered footbridge. This bridge was built in the late 1800s and has since been relocated to Amnicon Falls State Park. Amnicon Falls State Park’s covered bridge is one of the six unique bridges that Charles M. Horton designed.
Visitors to Amnicon State Park can view Snake Pit Falls after crossing the covered bridge to the island that Amnicon river flows around. The covered bridge, with its perspective of the falls, is a popular location to take pictures. Cross the bridge and follow the Main Loop Trail to get to Snake Pit Falls.
Snake Pit Falls consists of two drops that are about ten feet high. Snake Pit Falls lacks a fence or a viewing platform, leaping off of the cliff into the falls is not allowed. When visiting Snake Pit Falls, exercise caution.
Amnicon Falls State Park Camping
Camping is a wonderful way to get back to nature and experience nature in its entirety. Camping at Amnicon Falls State Park offers an authentic camping opportunity with its rustic campground sites located in the middle of the forest. If you want to camp here, make a reservation online or in-person ahead of time.
Make a reservation for one of the thirty-six campgrounds, one of which is wheelchair accessible. The campgrounds are rustic. The campground sites are covered by half or full shade, and most of the sites offer privacy.
A fire ring, table, and bench are available at each campsite. There are two walk-in tent sites The other campsites are back-in sites. Some types of RVs will be able to fit on the sites. A dual campsite is available, allowing two parties to camp together.
Amnicon Falls State Park Campground has wheelchair-accessible vault toilets and drinking water faucets. No hookups or generators are permitted in Amnicon Falls State Park Campground.
Kids can swing on the swing set, play in the sandbox, or play with other family members on the big field near the campground. The nearby highway can sound noisy at night. Request a campsite that is furthest from the highway.
Amnicon Falls Watersports
This state park is a beautiful place, and you can enjoy the view from anywhere in the park. However, if you want to get up close and personal with nature, there are plenty of water activities for you to engage in.
Amnicon Falls State Park Fishing
Try your luck at catching a Muskellunge, Walleye, or Rainbow Trout (Steelhead). The recommended fishing spot in Amnicon Falls State Park is downstream from the Lower Falls. Anglers aged 16 and older are required to have a license. Bag limits and sizes vary, so be sure to inquire about fishing limits at the Park Office.
Amnicon Falls State Park Swimming
Swimming is a super popular water activity at Amnicon Falls State Park. When choosing a swimming spot, caution is advised. Keep an eye on the water level of the Amnicon River and how fast the water is flowing. There are no water sports allowed at Amnicon Falls State Park.
The Upper Falls plunge pool is a popular swimming spot. Wear water shoes to avoid slipping on the slick rock surfaces along the riverbanks. Water shoes will also protect your feet while wading.
Diving is not permitted due to the instability of falling rocks. The root beer-colored water makes it impossible to see how deep the Amnicon River is, and where the rocks are hiding under the river.
Hiking at Amnicon Falls
The Amnicon Falls State Park Trails are part of Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Circle Tour. There are two miles of hiking trails, each of a different length that provide views of the waterfalls and the landscape. Families with children can walk Amnicon Park’s two-loop trails easily.
The” Amnicon Falls and Snake Pit Falls Loop”, and the “Amnicon Falls and Campground Loop”, are the two primary trails. Both routes are suitable for persons of all ages and abilities. On both sides of the Amnicon River, there are shorter trails off of the main loop trails.
Thimbleberry Nature Trail offers views of the river and access to the riverbed. The Thimbleberry Nature Trail is the most difficult hiking trail in Amnicon Falls State Park.
Use caution when walking on any of the designated hiking trails along the river and on the island. The absence of undergrowth makes it difficult to distinguish the trail from the landscape. The trails may be easy for children to walk on but there are no barriers to prevent falls. The trails are not suitable for strollers. Bring plenty of snacks and water to avoid having to cut your hike short.
The “Snake Pit” loop trail on the island is the most popular hiking trail. From this trail, The Upper, Lower, and Snake Pit waterfalls are all visible. You can also see smaller waterfalls and pools from this trail. A section of this trail follows the river upstream and downstream. The river walks are mostly level and easy to navigate.
Thimbleberry Nature Trail
The best place for viewing wildlife or seeing animals at Amnicon Park is by hiking the Thimbleberry Nature Trail. The Thimbleberry Nature Trail is home to a variety of flora, fauna, and wildlife, including its namesake, Thimbleberries. The Thimbleberry Trail is the most rugged of Amnicon Falls State Park’s hiking trails. The Thimbleberry Nature Trail is three-quarters of a mile long and begins at the campground’s loop entrance.
The Thimbleberry Nature Trail can be challenging to navigate. This trail is rugged due to the branches and stones on the trail, and there are stairs. The Thimbleberry Nature Trail includes a narrow section that consists of a dirt trail with overgrown vegetation on both sides. The Nature Trail provides views of the flat section of the river as well as access to the riverbed.
Request a copy of the Thimbleberry Nature Walk booklet at the Park Office. This booklet contains information on the sights you will see along the trail. The trail’s numbered signposts are referenced in the brochure.
Amnicon Falls State Park and Nature
While visiting Amnicon Falls State Park you will have opportunities to observe wildlife. You might catch a glimpse of a beaver or an otter while strolling along the riverbank. Enjoy the sounds of birdsong and watch butterflies feasting on wildflower nectar. Tree species in the park include Northern White Cedar, White Spruce, Balsam Fir, Black Ash, and White Birch. Milkweed, Starflowers, and other flora are in bloom between June and July.
Request a pair of binoculars at the Park Office to increase your chances of viewing a White-tailed deer, coyote, or fox. Pick up a Bird Guide at the Park Office so you can identify the birds you observe in the park.
Amnicon Falls State Park Hunting
Amnicon Falls State Park offers a variety of hunting options. Take advantage of the plentiful game bird and small game hunting opportunities. Enjoy hunting wild turkeys in their natural habitat. You may get a chance to hunt or trap a Grey Wolf or Black Bear at Amnicon Falls State Park.
You may hunt and trap in open sections of the park. You may not hunt or trap within a hundred yards of any permitted use area, and this includes hiking trails. Only certain types of traps can be used within the boundaries of Amnicon Falls State Park. Check the website for licensing requirements and regulations.
Amnicon Falls State Park in Winter
Winter is a terrific time to visit the park because the Amnicon Falls State Park is less crowded in the winter than it is in the summer. Winter transforms waterfall cascades into ice sculptures, which are enhanced by the tan color of the ice. The snowy landscape is the ideal setting to enjoy a bonfire to warm up on a chilly winter day.
The one-and-a-half-mile Snowshoe Trail at Amnicon Falls State Park is ideal for exploring some of the park’s remote areas. Although the Snowshoe Trail does not give access to the river, it does provide an excellent opportunity to examine the geologic characteristics of Amnicon Falls State Park’s ancient valley. If you decide to take the Snowshoe Trail, make sure you have some practice snowshoeing as it is a rugged trail.
When walking any of Amnicon Falls State Park Trails or using the Snowshoe Trail in winter, make sure to wear orange so hunters can see you, and bring a headlamp in case it gets dark.
Amnicon Falls 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 Portage County Humane Society at (715) 344-6012.
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.
Other animals like deer, red fox, coyote, squirrels, and beavers. Black bears, cougars, groundhogs, and wolves have all been spotted at Devil’s Lake.
Pets are not allowed in the following places:
- Picnic areas and picnic shelters
- Marked Nature Trails
- No Pets are allowed on the ski trails when they are snow-covered.
Of course, if your dog is a service animal, those rules do not apply.
How to get to Amnicon Falls State Park
Driving Directions from Superior to Amnicon Falls State Park:
Amnicon Falls State Park is about 7 miles from the city of Superior:
Head South on Tower Ave towards Belknap Street for about 46 feet. Turn left at the first cross street on US-2 E/Belknap Street, continue to follow US-2 E for 1.7 miles. Turn right onto US-2 E/US-53 S/E 2nd Street. When you drive 1.5 miles, you will pass by a McDonald’s on the left-hand side. Continue driving for a total of 11. 3 miles. Then take Exit 222 on the left, for US-2 E towards Ashland. After .2 miles, continue onto US-2 E. Drive .8 miles and turn left onto County Rd U. You will arrive at Amnicon Falls State Park almost immediately.
Driving Directions to Duluth from Amnicon Falls State Park:
Amnicon Falls State Park is about 25 miles from the city of Duluth:
Get on I-535 S/US-53 from West Railroad Street and Garfield Avenue. After driving for 3 miles (about 8 minutes), continue on US-53 S to South Range. Keep driving for 15.6 miles (about 20 minutes) and then turn left onto County Road U. You will arrive at Amnicon Falls State Park almost immediately.
Hotels Near Amnicon State Park
Not everyone is a fan of the rustic camping experience – their idea of roughing it is Holiday Inn or Howard Johnson’s. We have a list of fairly local hotels for you – if that is your preference.
Best Western Bridgeview Motor Hotel
Location: 415 Hammond Avenue, Superior, Wisconsin, 54880, US
Guests who stay at this hotel will receive a room that includes air conditioning and a flatscreen TV. In addition to wi-fi, the front desk service is open 24-7. Amenities include an indoor pool, free breakfast, and free parking.
This hotel is pet-friendly and kids under seventeen are free if a child shares a room with a paying adult. Things to do while staying at this hotel are to dine at nearby Shorty’s Pizza and Smoked Meat or visit the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center. The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is a Military Museum that is a popular place for visitors to explore.
The Androy Hotel
More Information: https://androyhotel.com/
Location: 1213 Tower Ave #3, Superior, Wisconsin, 54880, US
If you enjoy a vintage ambiance, then The Androy Hotel is for you. The Androy Hotel is a historic building built in 1925. The Androy hotel has had renovations to include a downstairs restaurant and lobby. Guest reviews rave about the nice-yet-simple rooms available at an affordable price.
Past guests have remarked about the great staff service and the hotel provides free parking for guests. Androy Hotel is in downtown Superior. Places you can visit near the hotel are Douglas County Historical Society, Superior Firehouse Museum, and Superior Police Museum. Androy hotel’s concierge will help you plan your downtown activities and dining experiences. The Androy Hotel is not pet-friendly.
More Information: https://superiorinn.com/
Location: 525 Hammond Ave, Superior, Wisconsin, 54480, US
This pet-friendly hotel offers wi-fi, free breakfast, an indoor pool, hot tub, and sauna. This is a family-style hotel with rooms that feature refrigerators and air conditioning. If you stay at this hotel you can visit nearby attractions such as Fairlawn, Great Lakes Aquarium, Spirit Mountain, and Canal Park. The Superior Inn provides free parking for guests.
Holiday Inn Express and Suites: (AKA Holiday Inn Express & Suites Superior-Duluth Area):
Location: 303 2nd Avenue East, Superior, Wisconsin, 54880, US
Only twelve and a half miles from the Duluth International Airport, this hotel is big on convenience. Guests here enjoy rooms full of modern conveniences ranging from a refrigerator, coffee maker, flat-screen tv with cable/satellite channels. The rooms have air conditioning and heating, and guests are allowed to open their room windows.
Enjoy free breakfast before swimming in the indoor pool or working out in the Fitness Center. This Holiday Inn Express is highly rated by previous guests, and complimentary parking is provided. However, pets are not allowed.
Swanson’s Motel Cabins and Campgrounds
More Information: https://swansonsmotel.com/
Location: 11829 S. US Highway 53, Solon Springs, Wisconsin, 54873, US
Family-owned Swanson’s Motel Cabins and Campgrounds is a 25-minute drive from Amnicon Falls State Park. If you want to stay in a natural environment, Swanson’s Cabins and Campgrounds is a perfect choice. This facility is in a parklike rustic setting with an outdoor heated pool, playground, and a campfire pit on the grounds.
The campground is seasonal/yearly only, and you need to reserve a camping spot months ahead of time. The campground is located over the hill from the rental cabins. Each rental cabin comes with modern amenities including air conditioning, wi/fi, TV, refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, and a shower. Dishes, pans, utensils, bed linens, and towels are provided for each cabin.
Cabin sizes range from a single room cabin with a queen bed, to a four-bedroom cabin Reasonably priced, cabin reservations are made months in advance. You must make campsite or cabin reservations by phone. You may request additional information through the Swanson Motel Cabins and Campgrounds’ website email.