Complete Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park is a comprehensive guide to exploring the park and all of its offerings. This includes tips on what you should bring, where you can stay, how much it costs, and more!

Complete Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park
Complete Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Copper Culture Mounds State Park may not be very popular but it has a lot of historical significance. It was home to the first inhabitants of this region, who are believed to have existed within 4000-2000 BC (over 5000 years ago!).

Complete Guide to Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The park was the site for their burial grounds. It is not a large property, at just 42 acres, but there is a lot to see and learn within the boundaries of the park and along the Oconto River. This article is a complete guide on the best way to explore the Copper Culture mounds State Park.

The Menominees, Mid Archaic period, and copper mining

The earliest inhabitants of this region were the Menominees, a Native American tribe that occupied the northern regions of Wisconsin. They were referred to as the Old Copper Culture people because they made tools and different decorations out of copper. Bracelets, knives, spear points, fishing hooks, and other copper material dating back to this point in time were unearthed on Copper Mounds. 

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The way of life of the Copper Culture people 

The human remains excavated inside the Copper Culture mounds state park were marked to date back to over 7,000 years ago. The Menominees were hunters, fishermen, and gatherers. The Lake provided them with the fishing opportunities they needed and the vast wilderness was rich grounds for wildlife, berries, and tubers they used as food.

Their knowledge in tooling certainly made the hunting venture more productive. Later on, as their knowledge of copper mining and creating tools from copper advanced, they advanced to become traders and merchants. They traded their copperware for the goods they did not have with other tribes in far-off places.

Some of the goods they gained through trading include pottery products and agricultural produce. Evidence of trade (recovered copper products dating to this time, and in the style of the Old copper culture people) has been collected as far as the Gulf of Mexico and in the Atlantic Ocean.

There is documentation of a tooling village in Cahokia, where the mid-Mississippian culture thrived; showing that the copper culture people extended their craft to the South.

ow the Copper Culture Mounds were formed

How the Copper Culture Mounds were formed

The water in Lake Michigan started rising gradually, about 6000 years ago. The rising water flooded the valley (currently known as Green Bay). The people who occupied this valley were forced to move to higher grounds because of the constant flooding.

To make matters worse, Lake Nissiping’s water had also risen to a higher level than that of Lake Michigan, completely submerging the land that would later become the grounds for the current City of Oconto.

This flooding pushed them further inland, and they eventually settled at a place called Susie’s hill. They established a life here and began working with copper. Their knowledge and work with copper are what led them to be referred to as the ‘Copper Culture’ people. The mounds were created at the eastern end of Susie Hills as a burial ground for their departed. These mounds would later become part of the Copper Culture Mounds State Park.

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Discovery of Copper Culture burial site 

In 1952, Donald Baldwin, a 13-year old boy discovered the mounds accidentally in Copper culture States Park. Excavation began under the direction of the Wisconsin historical society. The copper culture mounds state park is the oldest known burial site in Wisconsin.

The excavation uncovered 52 burial sites. Many others sites were destroyed by quarrying and disturbance of the land over time. It is estimated that over 200 burial grounds are still present in the park. The copper culture burial site is said to be 5,000 years old, according to Wisconsin’s state park tourist guides.

The evidence collected during the excavation process shows that the Archaic Native Americans buried their dead in four different styles. Some people were buried extended -lying on their back with their legs stretched flat. Others were buried flexed – with their arms folded.

Discovery of Copper Culture burial site 

Those who could not be identified (possibly because their flesh had decayed) had their bones collected, bundled, and buried in one location. Others were cremated inside a pit and the ash either scattered or buried.

The discovery of the park occurred on two sites; the Osceola site and the Oconto site. The Osceola site is situated along the Mississippi River shoreline and the site was estimated to have about 500 burials before disturbance by erosion or human actions. The Oconto site is located on the outskirts of Oconto town. This is where excavation in 1952 yielded the remains of 52 people and numerous artifacts.

Belief in Life after death

Evidence from these burial grounds showed that the deceased people were interred close to their place of death. Some were buried with copper tools, ornaments, and bone tools. Some graves contained exotic goods as well. This was an indication that these copper culture people may have believed in there being some form of life after death.

The dead were buried with the goods so that they could have a head start in another life. People buried with copper goods and ornaments may have held positions of leadership in society as this was construed to be a sign of respect.

Copper Culture Mounds Museum

The Copper Culture Museum

One of the most notable homes in Oconto County is the Werrebroeck home inside the copper culture state park. The Belgium-styled brick house was built by Charles Werrebroeck, a mason who immigrated to the US in 1911.

This house currently serves as the copper culture state park museum. There are several barns, a woodshed, and other buildings that constitute the Charles Werrebroeck home. 

Exhibitions and artifacts from the excavation of the mounds are displayed here, alongside videos and photographs explaining how this process was conducted and its significance in the preservation of the Native Americans’ history.

Copper mining and the end of the Copper Complex

Archaeologists pointed out that these Native Americans used a heat treatment process called annealing to extract the copper from the ore they excavated in the region. Annealing is a process where the ore gets heated to a more malleable state and then gets hammered into the desired shape. Mining was done near Lake Superior and transported for processing to villages where tooling experts and blacksmiths lived.

These villages were known as copper tooling sites. Once heated, copper became malleable and could be shaped into a variety of tools, including knives, hooks, leisters, and ornamental products such as necklaces and bracelets. The main mining regions were in Keweenaw Peninsula (in Upper Michigan) and on Isle Royale (In Lake Superior) where natural veins existed. 

Copper mining and the end of the Copper Complex

Over time, stone (rock) started replacing Copper as a choice tool and the old copper complex started dwindling. Copper deposits were also getting quickly depleted and harder to find. Stone was readily available and it could be shaped through flaking to form a variety of products, including crude weapons and knives.

The natives had to make long journeys to obtain raw copper. Increased population and a new reliance on fishing (which was a more sustainable method of earning a livelihood) gradually led to the disappearance of the copper way of life. 

Things to do inside Copper Culture Mounds state park

With over 51 acres to explore, there are a lot of activities to engage in within the park. Outdoor lovers will find beautiful, isolated, and quiet hiking trails inside this park. History lovers will be at home inside the Oconto Archaic museum. 

Here are some of the best things to see and do inside the Copper Culture Mounds State Park:

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Camping at Copper Culture Mounds Falls State Park

There are no camping facilities inside Copper culture Mounds State Park at the moment. You can explore other camping options close to the park, in Oconto town. 

Holtwood Campground

Location: 400 Holtwood Way, Oconto WI, 54153

Holtwood is a great camping ground for people seeking to have some fun doing water sports and enjoying the wilderness. You will be camping on the shoreline of the Oconto River. Carry your kayak (or rent one in town) and enjoy a kayaking adventure on the River, or relax with your friends by the campfire when the sun goes down.

Holtwood Campground is just 30 minutes north of Green Bay. There is a playground area and equipment (such as balls, nets, and rackets) is provided. You can play mini-golf as well, or watch an outdoor movie at the park. There is a common swimming pool inside the facilities. The campground is pet friendly and sites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Both RV and tent campers are accommodated here. The campground has a firewood policy that prohibits you from bringing in firewood from outside. You can purchase firewood from the camp’s office. Ensure that you follow the firewood rules and regulations they have set in place if you want to have a comfortable camping experience. It is a pet-friendly campground.

Amenities in this campground include picnic tables, fire rings, laundry facilities, flush restrooms, hot showers, sewer hookups, dump stations, handicap sites, and electrical services.

See a map of Holtwood campground for more information.

Things to do inside Copper Culture Mounds state park

City Park Campground

Location: County N, Oconto WI, 54153: 920-834-7706

If you love outdoor adventures but do not want to camp in the woods, you can head to the City Park campground. You will be close to the River and all the amenities and attractions that the town can offer will be within easy reach.

The campsites have fire rings and picnic tables as well as other luxury amenities. It is also a dog-friendly campground but you will be expected to clean after your dog.

See a map of the City park campground for more information.

Badger Campground

Location: 411 N. Emery Avenue, Peshtigo, WI

Although it is a bit far off, the Badger campground is also an excellent choice for people seeking camping options in Oconto County. It is a 41 site campground, in roughly 60 acres of land in the southwest of Badger Park.

Amenities here include a boat launch, fire pits, picnic tables, pet areas, rental tents, restrooms, electric services, handicap facilities, a playground, and a dumping station.

Copper Culture Mounds State Park Water Sports

Fishing in the Oconto River

The Oconto River flows through the Copper culture state park and fishing is a popular activity here. The fish species that you will find inside this river include white suckers, hog suckers, long nose daces, walleyes, smallies, pearl daces, black nose daces, and mottled sculpins. These are typically cold-water fish. You may also find brook and brown trout.

Perrot State Park's Effigy Mounds

Kayaking and Canoeing 

All kinds of water sports (swimming, boating, kayaking, rafting, and canoeing) occur on the Oconto River that runs through the park. The river is easily accessible from almost any dimension inside the park.

Hiking and walking trails at Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The trails in the Copper culture state park are isolated. The park does not receive many visitors and you are likely to find yourself enjoying a serene walk in the woods. 

The Bluebird trail

This is a short hiking trail that takes you through a meadow and open grassland. There are several birdhouses erected along the length of the trail. These birdhouses were placed here by the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin to provide a home for the Eastern Bluebird species. The trail is popular with bird lovers and bird watchers.

Copper Culture Hiking Trail

The main hiking trail here is the Copper Culture trail, a 1.1-mile trail that connects to the residential areas in the South, the Oconto River State Trail, takes you through the Van Hecke underpass and then back to the park itself.

You can park your vehicle at the parking lot of Van Hecke Avenue or inside the Park grounds when exploring this trail. It is a moderate trail with some rugged, elevated sections that may not be ideal for biking.

A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

The Oconto River hiking trail

This is an 8-miles trail that follows a leveled pathway, past forested grounds, along the Oconto River, and connects to the Copper Culture hiking trail in the Eastern end. From this trail, you can access the leisure activities within the Oconto River.

We are talking about canoeing, kayaking, and boating opportunities. At the western end of the trail, you can visit the Stiles Junction Railroad Station. The trail is straight and long. Biking is possible with a few rough sections along the trail.

Other trails inside Oconto town worth exploring include the Elementary school exercise trail, the Oconto Marsh Bird Trail, the Sharp Park walking trail, and the ride Oconto history trail.

The museum grounds offer excellent picnic opportunities as well. They have erected BBQ grills, a community pavilion, a children’s playground, and restroom facilities within the area.

Picnicking at Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The museum grounds offer excellent picnic opportunities as well. They have erected BBQ grills, a community pavilion, a children’s playground, and restroom facilities within the area.

Bird Watching at Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Bird Watching at Copper Culture Mounds State Park

There are two duck houses at the Copper Culture State Park. These duck houses were erected by the Association of Bird City Oconto. They are regularly monitored and reported on. If you are in luck, you may come across rarely sighted birds such as the Acadian Flycatchers and Cerulean Warblers.

Other birds you may see here, especially in the marshy sections include the wood ducks, snowy owls, scoters, ring-neck ducks, and the yellow-headed blackbird. Bald eagles and Water fowls have also been sighted here in the past. Copper culture state park is home to one of the Oconto’s bluebird trails.

Hunting and trapping in Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Hunting in Copper culture mounds State Park is regulated by Wisconsin’s hunting and trapping regulations. From November 15th to December 15th, gun and archery hunting is allowed in the open areas of the property. Trapping is not allowed in closed areas on the trails.

In the spring season, gun and archery hunting and trapping are allowed from April 1st to May 3rd. You can inquire more about these dates and the regulations from the park’s office.

Here is the hunting and trapping map for Copper Culture State Park.

Copper Culture Mounds State Park in Winter

Like any Wisconsin State Park, winter doesn’t signal the end of all activities!

winter in peninsula state park

Winter sports

Snowshoeing and winter hiking are permitted in this park. Follow the advice of the park’s office when coming to enjoy winter sports activities.

Copper Culture Mounds 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 Oconto County Humane Society at (920)-835-1738.

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, chipmunks, squirrels, gray wolves, skunks, fishers, elk, and porcupines can be found there.

Things to do inside Copper Culture Mounds state park

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • 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.

Directions to Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Exit the US-41 at exit 22, turn left at the roundabout, and follow the signs on the road to the state park.

Attractions near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Copper Culture State Park is not a large park, and you may find yourself wanting to explore other attractions beyond the park’s boundaries, especially if you plan on staying for several days. Here are other attractions you may find worth exploring during your visit to the copper culture state park.

Beyer Home Museum

Location: 917 Park Ave, Oconto, WI 54153

The Beyer house is among the oldest brick homes in Oconto County. It was built in 1868 by Cyrus Hart. Eventually, after several changes of ownership, it fell into the hands of George Beyer in 1881. They remodeled the house to include a three-story tower room and a wrap-around porch.

Oconto County took over the house in 1941 and turned it into a museum before opening it to the public. In 1979, it became recognized as a historic landmark and became registered in the national register of historic places. The home is a perfect depiction of how the wealthy people in Oconto lived in the 19th century.

Attractions near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

The Ruins Adventure Mini Golf

Location: 150 Howard Ln. Oconto, Wisconsin US

If your kids love golf, visit the ruins adventure mini-golf to enjoy an 18-hole miniature golf setting. Many exciting things are happening here, including a glow golf event where the lights get turned off and the course and golf balls lit with blinking colors. They have a shop which sells delicious ice cream.

Peshtigo Fire Museum

Location: 400 Oconto Ave, Peshtigo, WI 54157

In October 1871, a fire engulfed Peshtigo, killing over 2,000 people and destroyed the city. The Peshtigo museum was built to preserve this painful heritage and to showcase how the town is prepared to avert such a disaster in the future.

You will find various exhibits and artifacts from the legendary fire on display here. Adjacent to this building is the Peshtigo cemetery, where the charred remains of the people lie buried in a mass grave.

Hotels near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

You will find excellent accommodation in any of the following hotels within driving distance of Copper Culture State Park.

Econo Lodge Inn & Suites

Location: 600 Brazeau Ave, Oconto, WI 54153, More information: Econo lodge website 

Distance from the park: 1 mile

Econo Lodge Inn and Suites is a moderately priced hotel in Oconto, offering you great amenities and proximity to the park. You will enjoy a continental breakfast, an indoor pool with a tub, free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, and a business center. The hotel is pet-friendly.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Marinette

Location: 2020 Old Peshtigo Ct, Marinette, WI 54143, More information: Country Inn & Suites Website 

Distance from the park: 18 miles

Located less than 10 minutes from Menominee-Marinette Twin County Airport, this is the perfect spot to explore Green Bay and the attractions in the area, including the DeYoung Family Zoo. The hotel offers an indoor pool with a hot tub, fitness center, free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, air-conditioned rooms, handicap accessibility, and meeting facilities. It is a pet-friendly hotel. 

Hotels near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Independence Stay

Location: 2030 Old Peshtigo Court, Marinette, WI 54143, More Information: Independence Stay Hotel Website

Distance from the park: 18.1 miles

Located just north of Green Bay, this is a beautiful hotel that offers you comfort at a reasonable price. All rooms have full-size refrigerators, microwaves, and table-top burners.

Pets are welcome here, and there are designated pet rooms for this purpose. Parking is free for guests. A fitness center, free internet, self-service laundry, and smoking-free facilities are some of the amenities you will find here.

Tarragon Motel

Location: W1915 Flame Rd, Marinette, WI 54143, More information: Tarragon Hotel Website

Distance from the park: 16 miles

The Tarragon hotel is a child and pet-friendly hotel. Each room has cable TV, free Wi-Fi, a refrigerator, and a microwave. Parking for guests is free of charge. The hotel is strategically placed to explore other attractions nearby including Lake Michigan, the Marinette Shipyard, the new Aurora Bay Area Medical center, and other restaurants in Marinette.

Restaurants near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

If you are looking for a quick meal or drink, check out some of these restaurants near the park;

Iron Duck restaurant

Style: American Location: 2525 Velp Ave Green Bay, WI 54303-6535

Iron Duck is a local restaurant that cooks local cuisine. It has a very hospitable and accommodating ambiance, making strangers feel at home the moment they walk through the door. The service is also exceptional, with waiters serving you old-fashioned drinks as you wait for your food to be ready.

Poke the Bear Bar & Grill

Style: Contemporary American/Sports Bar Location: 304 N Adams St Green Bay, WI 54301-5144

Although the restaurant serves local cuisines, they are not afraid to experiment with other exotic dishes now and then. It is the perfect place to grab a drink, watch a game and wait as your plate of a delicious meal gets prepared. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, ready to offer you tips if you are stuck on choosing what to eat from the menu. 

Restaurants near Copper Culture Mounds State Park

Republic Chophouse

Style: Steakhouse Location: 218 N. Adams Street Green Bay, WI 54301

Steak, chops of all kinds, seafood, desserts, and casual bar food are what you should expect when you visit this restaurant. The atmosphere is relaxed and you will get tempted to drink one of their legendary cocktails as you wait for your meal to be ready. 

Mangiare

Style: Italian/Dining Bar Location: 121 N Adams St Green Bay, WI 54301

This restaurant prides itself on using only the freshest local ingredients to prepare its dishes. The setting is classic Italian, with a small, cozy Italian-family setup. 

Other articles you may find interesting:

Complete Guide to Copper Falls State Park

Imagine spending a weekend exploring spectacular cascading waterfalls, hiking beautiful trails that offer the most fantastic views, staying in old log cabins, a chance to see the creation of ancient lava flows, hardwood forests, gorges, and cliffs in a 3,068-acre piece of land?

Complete Guide to Copper Falls State Park

Copper Falls State Park in Mellen will offer you adventures and experiences that will last a lifetime. If you are planning to visit Copper Falls State Park, here’s the complete guide to help you get started.

History of Copper Falls State Park

Copper Falls State Park has a long history. It lies in the Penokee-Gogebic range, an area that was believed to contain iron ore deposits and other minerals, making it an attractive spot for speculators and miners during the civil war. Copper was one of those minerals. Between 1880 and 1900, speculators created several copper mines and when the deposits ran out, the lands were abandoned or sold out.

Efforts to improve the land at Copper Falls begin

Ashland county Land company officials, led by Amon Ruggles (an attorney-turned-mining-prospector) sold a portion of the land to other investors who were determined to turn the location into a tourist site. He sold the land after the mining prospect failed.

They build some infrastructure and improving the roads. Later on (in 1929), Wisconsin state purchased more land in the falls and started pushing for the recognition of the falls as a state park.

Copper falls became a state park!

It took the intervention of congressmen and other government officials to create the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that would be tasked with turning this piece of land into a state park. Camping areas (including log cabins), picnic, and other recreational areas were built and several hiking trails were established.

Natural disasters would later destroy the efforts of these men but continuous reconstruction was done to retain the status and recognition the area was given. It became a protected State Park under the ownership of the CCC and the works progress Administration (WPA).

The Native Americans

Many Native Americans lived near Copper Falls State Park. The most prominent of the native tribes who used to call this place home were the Sioux and the Chippewa who possessed both Canadian and American heritage. They were hunters, gatherers, and fishermen. They also used crude technics to extract the copper minerals from the ground to make tools, weapons, and hunting gear.

Later, the French came to the region and established trade/mining concessions, changing the way of life of these Native Americans. Very few Native Americans remain here, as most moved on to settle in other areas either voluntarily or after being pushed out by the government and other hostile tribes.

The European-American prospectors

The region encompassing Copper Falls, Brownstone Falls, and Bad River was rich in copper deposits. Amon and his crew were the ones running the show in the early 1900s here. They were disappointed because they found very few copper deposits here, despite making great efforts to divert the Bad River, which was disrupting their efforts by constantly flooding the mining shafts.

They would later sell the land to local investors who wanted to turn this place into a tourist attraction site. Evidence of the mining is still present today and you will see these shafts when you explore the Doughboy’s trail.

How the falls in the park were formed

The geology in Copper falls state park is interesting. The process started thousands (possibly millions) of years ago. There were numerous granite mountains in Northern Wisconsin. Over time, these mountains eroded into plain lands and later water from the sea submerged the region to create Lake Superior.

The rivers and streams flowing into the lake collected sand and mud and deposited them into the bottom of the lake and this became the grounds for the iron minerals that were coming from the earth’s core. 

Later, as a result of volcanic action, lava spread around the area, building up to become mountains, leading to the formation of the Lake Superior basin. As the lava cooled off, it cut off the flow of many streams that emptied their water into Lake Superior.

The Bad River and Tyler’s Fork River resisted carved their way through these sedimentary rocks over time. The uneven nature of these rocks created cascading waterways for the rivers, resulting in deep plunges, gorges, and beautiful waterfalls. 

Mellen

Mellen is located to the south of Copper Falls State Park, along the Bad River. It is only a 3.8-mile hike from Copper Falls. If you will be camping in Copper falls, you can replenish your supplies from Mellen. The town also offers great camping alternatives and beautiful resorts, as we shall see here.

Take a moment to visit the historical society museum in Mellen to learn more about how the town and how the park came to be and see artifacts that showcase how the people who lived in this region a long time ago.

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Things to see or do in Copper Falls State Park

There is a ton of stuff to do and see inside the park. You are only limited by your time and your appetite for adventure. Here are some of the fun and exciting things you can do inside the Copper Falls State Park:

Camping at Copper Falls State Park

With over 50 camping sites, be assured that the fun continues even after dusk in Copper Falls. Keep your food and valuable personal items safe because animals such as deer and raccoons do not shy away from coming around to check on you.

Seriously, the raccoons have learned to open coolers, unzip tents, and more. Put your cooler and food in your car overnight and lock it. Even bears know how to open car doors now!

Black Bears come close to the campgrounds

Always be on the lookout for black bears while camping here. Keep your food and valuables safe. Black bear sightings may not be too common though. They try to keep to themselves.

They are really learning how to adapt to the human environment – check this out!

The North Campground

This campground contains 32 sites. 28 of the sites have electrical hookups. There is a site that has been designed specifically for people with disabilities. It allows them to access important areas, such as restrooms. 

The South Campground

There are 23 sites here. None of them have electric hookups. These are great locations for people seeking to do wild camping as they are nestled between two ridges. From this location, you can easily venture into the woods by following the well-marked trails. 

If you do not reserve your site online, you may be lucky to get one of the 4 designated walk-in camping sites here.

The Group Campground

Nestled between the North and the South Campground, the group campground is a tent camping area that can accommodate groups of up to 40 people. There is a parking area close by for exclusive use of the people camping here.

Backpack Campsite

This campsite is located on the northernmost end and it is the only backpack campsite in the park. It is on the banks of the Bad River, about 2 miles away from the parking lot. This is a very ideal camping location for people seeking wild/primitive forms of camping. There is only one vault toilet but you will need to carry toiletries and other amenities you may require. Water is not available as well. 

Copper Falls Camping Map

Cabin for people with disabilities

There is a rustic cabin, not far from the driveway that is designed to accommodate campers with disabilities. The cabin is close to the toilet and shower building. It has a comfortable bed and smoking is not allowed in this cabin.

Winter Camping

Camping sites during winter are accessible from the North Campground. The rest of the campgrounds are closed for skiing and snowshoeing sports. The campsites are offered on a first-come, first-served, walk-in, or online reservation basis.

Vehicles are restricted to certain areas during the winter season. To stay safe while camping during the winter season, consult the park’s office for regulations and advice. 

Copper Falls winter Campground map

RV camping in Copper Falls State Park

Because of the large space inside Copper Falls State Park, large rigs can be accommodated easily, without feeling too congested or having your privacy violated. Expect to have problems getting cell signals here. Both electrical and dump stations are available on location. You will need to make a reservation online before you drive your RV to the park. You will also pay a daily State Park fee.

Other camping sites near Copper Falls State Park

If you do not want to camp in the park, or are just looking to explore other camping alternatives near the park, here are some of the best camping sites to check out:

Balsam Shores on the Bad River

Unlike in the Copper Falls where you are restricted to camping at least 75 feet from the water, you can pitch your tent as close as 15 feet away here. Explore the beauty of the area by kayaking on the Bad River or take hikes to the nearby waterfalls. It is a primitive camping ground with a short hike from the parking lot, over irregular terrain. Carry all the supplies you will need for your trip.

Tranquility at Chase Creek

This is another private camping site that is nestled among the pines near Sailor Lake road. It is open, ideal for RV camping and sports such as ATV motoring. There is plenty of firewood on the site.

Activities in Copper Falls State Park

Are you looking forward to getting out into nature? Copper Falls State Park is a great place for those who love hiking, biking, backpacking, and camping. There are more than 17 miles of trails here that let you experience nature as it should be experienced: Up close and personal. Copper Falls is a beautiful sight to behold as it drops below the rocks into Copper Falls Lake.

Copper Falls State Park Water Sports

The Copper Falls are one of the most recognizable waterfalls in Copper Falls State Park. They are perhaps the reason why Copper Falls State Park is considered a major tourist destination, aside from its natural beauty and proximity to Lake Superior.

Fishing at Copper Falls State Park

There are several locations for fishing in this park. You can catch brown, rainbow, or brook trout in the Bad River or the Tyler Forks River. Panfish, largemouth bass, and northern pikes can be fished in Loon Lake.

Swimming at Copper Falls State Park

The sand beach at Loon lake is usually crowded, especially in the summer. However, there is no lifeguard on duty, so take precautions. You can easily access this beach from whichever campground you are in by following the well-marked trails.

Waterfalls 

Copper Falls is the predominant waterfall in this park. It is formed as the Bad River cascades through deep gorges and jutting rock formations. A short distance down the stream you will come across the Brownstone Falls.

Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit.

Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Copper Falls State Park Canoeing and Kayaking

There is a boat launch and access on Loon Lake for kayaks. However, the lake is only open to motorized kayaks and boats. You can explore the Bad River on a kayak but watch out for rapids and meandering sections. Kayaks and canoes are available for rental at the park’s office. Boating is popular in the other larger lakes about 10 miles from the park.

Hiking and walking trails at Copper Falls State Park

One of the best ways to enjoy the attractions this park has to offer would be by taking a hike on one of the beautiful trails scattered through the park:

Doughboy’s Trail

Length: 1.7-mile loop

This is the most scenic trail in Copper Falls State Park. You access this trail from the Park’s cabins and the parking lot. This trail takes you through the Bad River Gorge, allowing you to view some of the most amazing sceneries in the location (including the mining shafts) and onto the Tyler Forks River.

Take your time to survey the stunning sceneries of the cascading waterfalls, the unique jugged rock formations, and the lush, pine landscape that will be surrounding you. 

There are signs all along the trail and plaques that offer you great information about the history of the park and how the geological formations you come across were formed.

You will also come across the (conveniently nicknamed) Devil’s Gate, a unique arrangement of huge rocks along the Bad River. There is an observation tower along this trail and from here you will have stunning views of the lush forest and Lake Superior on the horizon in the North.

Red Granite Falls Trail

Length: 2.5 Miles

This is a moderate trail near Mellen town that offers a good alternative to the Doughboy’s trail. You will walk along the river, leading to the red granite falls. The falls themselves are not on the trail but it is just a short climb down to get fantastic views and shots. It is a well-marked, well-groomed trail that is also popular with snowshoeing during the winter season.

The North Country Trail

This trail runs parallel to the Doughboy’s trail in the North. You can easily connect to the CCC trail from here and head onto the observation tower. The North Country trail also allows you to view the copper falls, albeit from a different angle.

ATV trails 

There are well-marked off-road bicycling and ATV trails here. The Takesson and Vahtera trails are popular with this kind of sport. The terrain is mainly level but you may encounter some rugged sections. 

Copper Falls hiking trail map for summer

Picnicking at Copper Falls State Park

Bad River banks offer the most scenic picnic locations for your family. There are other areas set aside for this purpose as well, and most of them are close to the parking or camping grounds.

Picnic tables, grills, log shelters, fire rings, and playgrounds have been set in these areas. There is a pet-friendly picnic area close to the parking lot and the Bad River. Pets are not allowed in other public picnic areas.

Bird watching at Copper Falls State Park

There are numerous bird species in Copper falls state park. Some of them have made this area their habitat while others pass by temporarily following their migration patterns.

Common bird species found in this park include the northern ravens, turkey vultures, American redstarts, ovenbirds, hermit thrushes, vireos, blackburnian warblers, Canadian warblers, bald eagles, ruffed grouse, chickadees, loons (at the Loon Lake), and woodpeckers.

Other wildlife in the park

Other animals you may see occasionally in the park include deer, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, gray wolves, skunks, fishers, elk, and porcupines. Whenever you encounter wildlife, do not try to interfere with their natural habitat.

Reptiles, Insects, and Amphibians

There are snakes in the park, but they are not poisonous and you will be advised on which trails to avoid if you do not want to encounter them. In June and July (in the summer) you will encounter beautiful tiger swallowtail butterflies. Wood frogs are common in humid woodland trails. You may also encounter a wood turtle.

Trees, wildflowers, and other plants in the park

Pines are the predominant tree species in Copper Falls. You will also find hemlocks, yellow birch, white ash, and sugar maple growing gracefully along your hiking trails. Others including aspens, basswoods, balsam firs, white spruce, red pines, and red oaks are also present, albeit in smaller quantities. 

There are numerous wildflowers, reeds, ferns, partridgeberry, blueberries, and conifers in the park as well, especially closer to bodies of water. Over 500 acres of land were set aside as designated State Natural Areas. Although you are welcome to explore and enjoy yourself, you are not permitted to tamper with the environment or collect plants or their seeds for use outside of this park.

Fall color treat at Copper Falls

The fall season is the best season to visit. The heavenly combination of tantalizing fall colors, the beautiful sunshine, and the waterfalls make for a very refreshing hike during this season. The wildflowers pop to life, decorating the atmosphere with beautiful colors.

Hunting and trapping in Copper Falls State Park

Hunting and trapping in Copper Falls State Park

Hunting and trapping are allowed in the park during the right season. You need to check with the office to understand the regulations they have and restrictions on what kind of tools you can use.

Copper Falls State Park in Winter

Like any Wisconsin State Park, winter doesn’t signal the end of all activities! The snowfall in Copper Falls State Park averages near 100 inches annually, making it perfect for winter sports. There are over 15 miles of trails open to those who enjoy winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Doughboys Trail is not maintained during the winter and is closed for safety.

Cross-country skiing At Copper Falls

Copper Falls State Park is home to 13.7 miles (22 km) of classic ski trails, 6.5 miles (10.5 km) of skate-skiing trails, and various levels of difficulty for skiers that range from beginner to experienced level snow fiends. Hikers, snowshoers, and pets are not allowed on the groomed ski trails. 

Pipeline/Blue Loop. Groomed for skate and classic skiing.

Featuring 7.4 km of rolling meadows, cruising downhills, and rolling, wooded terrain. This trail with the most complete skier experience for visitors to Copper Falls runs through all park sections. Viewing wildlife, beaver ponds, and tamarack stands is one of its main attractions.

Meadow/Yellow Loops. Groomed for skate and classic skiing.

Located within the 2.4-kilometer trail, an additional climbing section is also available for more adventurous powder hounds looking to get some early-season turns. This area of the park tends to get the most snow.

This skiing area has a variety of loops with short and easy distances for those who are still learning to ski. Park at the Office Lot to access this trail.

Vahterra/Orange Loops. Groomed for classic skiing only.

One of the best ways to experience this forest is to ski. This 3.2km long trail meanders through sections of Eastern hemlock that give it a snowy feel.

A longer, navigable loop features topography that is a pleasant (roller-coasting) ski with one of the more moderate hills in the park. Park at the Ballfield Lot to access this trail.

Takesson/Green Loops. Groomed for classic skiing only.

This trail takes you through northern hardwoods and boreal forest along the Bad River. The length is 3.9 km with sections of hills once skiers have some experience!

The shorter loop of Copper Falls State Park does not avoid a steep descent, unlike the longer loop. Parking is at Ballfield Lot to access this trail.

Copper Falls State Park winter trail map

Red Granite/Red Loop.

It is possible to enjoy a skate ski in the Red Granite Falls Trail, but you need to share the trail with snow-shoers and other hikers. Pets too!

Snowshoeing at Copper Falls State Park

Copper Falls State Park has two multi-use trails, the Winter Waterfalls Trail at the north end of the park and Red Granite Falls Trail near Loon Lake.

**The Doughboys Trail is not maintained during winter and is closed for safety. Snowshoeing and winter hiking are also allowed off-trail in the park, except on the groomed ski trails.

Winter Waterfall/Purple Loop.

Snowshoe or hike from the park’s winter access lot — which can be reached by driving past a waterfall and through some trees — to the backside of the park’s namesake, Copper Falls. Continue east to the observation deck where Brownstone Falls and that canyon it flows through can be observed.

Throughout this 1-mile loop see mature hardwoods, hemlock, cedar, pine, and perhaps some wildlife tracks.

winter in peninsula state park

Red Granite/Red Loop.

–>This is the only winter trail open to pets. Pets must be on a leash 8 feet or shorter and under control at all times.

This 3.2-kilometer multi-use trail features wide, packed paths for skate skiing and snowshoeing. The meandering path gently leads hikers to the banks of the Bad River below.

Snowshoers and hikers can get down to the river’s edge where they will be able to view pillows of snow and ice spilling over red granite outcroppings. They will also be able to see additional outcroppings, some larger than an average home. Just before the trail winds back to the parking lot is a beautiful vista across Loon Lake. Park at the Loon Lake Lot to access this trail.

Copper 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 Ashland County Humane Society at (419) 281-4722.

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, chipmunks, squirrels, gray wolves, skunks, fishers, elk, and porcupines can be found there.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Marked Nature Trails except for the Red Granite/Red Loop.
  • 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.

Hunting and trapping in Copper Falls State Park

Get Your Wisconsin State Park Sticker Now

Day pass or annual pass, it gets you in any Wisconsin State Park. YES, there are discounts for Wisconsin residents.

Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

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Restaurants near Copper Falls State Park

If you are looking for some more excitement, Mellen town has numerous beautiful restaurants you can pop into and enjoy a good time. Here are some of our favorites:

Pizza Pub Ashland

Location: 1402 Lake Shore Dr E Ashland, Wisconsin 54806

Website: Pizza Pub Ashland

This is a large restaurant capable of accommodating over 100 people in one seating. They have been in operation since 1973 and they pride themselves in using only the freshest ingredients in preparing their local delicacies. The ambiance is great here.

Four Corner Food and Spirits

Location: 30015 County Hwy E Mason, WI 54856

Website: n/a

This is a restaurant that will make you feel at home instantly with their food choices and hospitality. They specialize in cooking local foods, using locally sourced ingredients. You can enjoy some music and a cocktail as you wait for your food to be ready.

Frontier Bar and Campground

Location: 11296 US Hwy 2, Saxon

Website: Frontier Bar and Campground

This is a bar that also couples as a campground. It would be a good place to spend a night when going to (or coming from) Copper Falls State Park. Enjoy ATV-ing, Snowmobiling, and camping and when you want to relax, cold drinks and good food will be ready for you.

Hotels near Copper Falls State Park

If you love exploring nature in luxury but aren’t into camping, you can always make a reservation at any of the amazing hotels close to the park.

Four Season’s Chalet

Distance from Copper falls Park: 17 miles

Enjoy a 3-star vacation with rooms that come complete with WIFI, flat-screen TVs, and other luxurious amenities. They also provide guided tours to all the attractions in the area around the hotel. 

Best Western The Hotel Chequamegon

Distance from Copper falls Park: 21 miles

If you have ever been to a Best Western Hotel, you know they do not compromise on their luxury and quality. The Hotel Chequamegon is as luxurious as they come, allowing you to enjoy your vacation in style. Guided tours to the attractions close to the hotel are also offered here.

Whitecap Mtn Village Chalet

Distance from Copper falls Park: 13 miles

This hotel has a unique way of blending outdoor adventure and luxury. You will have a wide boarding and lodging choice, including a luxurious glamping log cabin. There are guided tours to explore the surrounding attractions and engage in exciting activities including ATV rides, snowmobiles, biking, kayaking, boating, fishing, and skiing.

You will have access to all the luxury amenities you can expect from a five-star resort. Copper Falls state park, Weber Lake, and Lake Superior are within proximity of this hotel. 

Other attractions near Copper Falls State Park

Copper Falls State Park has many amazing attractions and you may want to spend all your time in the park. However, if you want to have an immersive experience, you should venture out to explore some of the other attractions near the park.

Chequamegon Forest

With land spanning almost a million acres, this is one of the largest forested areas in the region. There is no shortage of outdoor recreational activities you can embark in within this forest, including camping.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

The beaches and shoreline along Lake Superior are beautiful, clean, and sandy. The Apostle Islands are a conglomeration of 21 beautiful islands, with a wide variety of breathtaking natural features to explore. Enjoy taking a cruise on Lake Superior.

Visit the Morgan Falls St.Peter’s Dome trail

This is a great location for hikers who seek challenging trails. Every trail is well marked out and they are pet-friendly! The views on the hike to the Morgan falls are fantastic.

Northwood Zipline and Adventure tours

Take your kids to this location to enjoy adrenaline-filled adventure and ziplining. It is a theme park that is full of wonderful adventures for the whole family.

Hunting and trapping in Copper Falls State Park

Address & Directions

The park is located at 36764 Copper Falls Road Mellen, WI 54546. It is about 2 miles northeast of Mellen. When driving, take state highway 13 in North Mellen and branch onto state highway 169 then proceed for 1.8 miles to the park’s entrance. 

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Complete Guide to Buckhorn State Park

Spread over8000 acres, Buckhorn State Park is one of the largest state parks, packing in 1600 acres of Buckhorn Wildlife Area and some 2200 acres of Yellow River Wildlife Area. This state park packs in many recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and is nothing short of a paradise for nature lovers. 

Complete Guide to Buckhorn State Park

It is located at the point of meeting of the Wisconsin and Yellow rivers just southeast of Necedah. It is an excellent place to get to whether you’re planning a trip alone or with your family. Buckhorn has something for everyone, with varied outdoor recreation opportunities and abundant wildlife to observe.

Complete Guide to Buckhorn State Park

We’ve put together an exhaustive guide on Buckhorn State Park that will give you all the information you need before you make your way here. Buckhorn State Park is divided into

A Little History of Buckhorn State Park

Before the 1830s, this area of Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) Indian land was considered “unbroken wilderness.”

Reports of vast stands of pine timber enticed John Kingston to the area. In 1837, he and Samuel Pilkington walked miles but found no sprawling forests.

Discouraged and believing the reports were a myth, they returned to the Portage area. But in 1838, Kingston again tried exploring the Wisconsin River starting from Grand Rapids. He found the mouth of the Yellow River where it was clear that there was more pine timber upstream which convinced them that this is where they wanted to go.

Bradley Kingston, Thomas Weston, and John Werner created a lumber company in the Necedah area after staking a claim. Lumbering has been the way of life since Necedah was established as a town.

When the lumberjacks moved on to cut down more trees, an open area was created. Settlers quickly came in and started farms. To stop cows from eating their crops, farmers set them loose in wooded areas rather than pastures where they could eat everything. This disrupted the land for wildlife by eliminating cover and food sources.

The earliest days of the Buckhorn dam are lost to history, but it’s clear that change was in the air. The Wisconsin River Power Company had bought up farms near the Yellow and Wisconsin Rivers in anticipation of building a new hydroelectric facility on both rivers.

Left unkempt, the land began to follow natural succession and developed typical central Wisconsin cover of aspen, evergreen oak trees, and jack pine. This brushland habitat allowed deer and wildlife populations to increase almost exponentially.

In the late 1940s, upon completing the Castle Rock Dam, the Wisconsin and Yellow rivers backed up to form Castle Rock Flowage. The towns of Germantown and Werner became just a memory as the flowage covered most of the land where they once existed.

Though the water had transformed the area, creating a new peninsula and sloughs that would never be restored to their natural state again, in 1974 the Department of Natural Resources purchased Buckhorn with plans for it to become a park and wildlife area.

The DNR purchased 3,221 acres from Wisconsin River Power Company. Of this purchase, 2,581 acres were designated as the Yellow River Wildlife Area and 640 acres were added to Buckhorn State Park. In addition, 116 acres of scattered small parcels were acquired between 1974 and 2004 and 1,200 more in 2009.

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Camping at Buckhorn State Park

Buckhorn State Park has family campsites, an outdoor group camp, 50 cart-in campsites, and even an accessible cabin for people with disabilities. (site 8)

The campgrounds, which are located off 19th avenue, have 69 family campsites, where you can go traditional camping in a tent or park your trailer. You’ll find 17 standard electric sites, and 3 additional accessible electric sites.

Camping for People with Disabilities

For people with disabilities, the campgrounds also have an accessible cabin located near the fishing pier, which can accommodate up to 6 people. To reserve your spot in the cabin, you’ll need to send the reservation form to the Buckhorn State Park office.

Backpacking Sites at Buckhorn State Park

The state park also has secluded sites for backpackers, most of them located near water. Sites 9, 16, and 26-29 are open all throughout the year and gives you the chance to enjoy some time close to the wilderness. You can get to these sites by boat or canoe and as opposed to family campsites, you’ll find that these aren’t located too close to each other.

Every site a fire ring, bench, and a picnic table, and there’s a portable toilet for each cluster of sites.

See the campground map here –

Activities in Big Foot Beach State Park

If you are a nature lover, this is the place for you! Hiking, boating, wildlife viewing and so. much. more!

Buckhorn State Park Water Sports

Buckhorn State Park has canoes, rowboats, and kayaks for rent near the large beach pavilion. To get on the water you’ll need to bring your own life jackets since Buckhorn doesn’t provide them. You should also check with Buckhorn State Park before going out on the water to make sure that the water level is high enough to boat.

Fishing at Buckhorn State Park

Buckhorn State Park has a reputation as an excellent fishery. The wide variety of fish species found at Buckhorn offers anglers year-round action, with many great locations for fishing around the park. Some of the best places to catch fish are from off the 90-foot accessible pier near the north picnic area and by both bridges on the south shoreline.

There are two boat launches—one ramp area dock is accessible for people with mobility disabilities, as well as one on the West side of the causeway bridge.

There is a kids’ fishing pond with a pier near the entrance of Buckhorn State Park on the Turtle Trail. Friends of Buckhorn stock it, and parking is allowed along County Highway G for people hiking in 300 yards or so to access the picnic shelter.

Anglers of any age may borrow basic fishing gear from the Tackle Loaner Program at our park headquarters.

Swimming at Buckhorn State Park

Buckhorn’s beach has a 1500-foot long sand spit that makes it an ideal place for swimming and sunbathing.

If you want to go swimming, stick to the 300-foot swim area that has an all sand bottom. Remember that there are no lifeguards on duty, so you’ll need to be careful, especially if you’re going there with children.

A beach wheelchair is available for people with disabilities. Seriously, this is one very accessible park!

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We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit.

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Buckhorn State Park Canoeing and Kayaking

Thanks to the open waters of the Castle Rock flowage, you can also go jet skiing, boating, canoeing, and kayaking at this state park. You can rent some of these from the Friends of Buckhorn State Park. People with disabilities can also get access to a specially adapted kayak. Remember to stay near the shore, since the waters can get pretty rough when the wind is blowing.

The park has five boat ramps, one of which is on the east side of the peninsula in a quiet slough that leads to the main part of the flowage. On this path, canoeists should remain near shore to avoid rough water when the wind is blowing. The 10-stop self-guided interpretive trail will teach you about Buckhorn’s wetlands.

The 1.8-mile self-guided canoe trail will get you face to face with one of the most magical wonders of the ecosystem- wetlands. Stay quiet and alert, and you might also spot some wildlife while you’re at it- deer, duck, geese, osprey, bald eagle, and even sandhill cranes.

Hiking and walking trails at Buckhorn State Park

Starting from the south picnic area, the state park has 4 miles worth of trails that pass through oak woods, wetlands, and the shoreline. If you’re lucky, you might also get the chance to peek at the wildlife at its best.

Hiking and walking trails at Buckhorn State Park tower

Barrens Nature trail (1.5 miles)

Complete with a 20-foot tall observation tower for you to relish the views when you get there, and full-colored, big signs to guide you through your journey, the Barrens Nature Trail is one of the best trails in the entire state park.

You’ll also find little tidbits of information along the way- everything about the park and interesting facts about the flora and fauna around.

Buckhorn Campground trail (.53 miles)

A crushed rock trail for walking or biking leads from the campground towards the day-use area.

Central Sands Nature trail (1.4 miles)

The trail begins right beside the amphitheater near the parking lot and is a 1.4-mile long loop trail that connects to two other trails.

Glacial Lake trail (1 mile)

Winds through oak and pine forest with views of a large sand blow and connects the Turtle Trail to 30th Street.

Partridge trail (1.2 miles)

This trail connects to the Turkey Hollow and Central Sands Nature trail in the lower part of the park.

Turkey Hollow trail (1.5 miles)

If you want to get to the campsites, follow this trail for a 1.5-mile hike all the way down south. Backpacking sites are at the end of the road, which is where you’ll reach after completing this short trail.

Pond trail (0.5 miles)

You’ll find this one connecting to the Barrens Nature trail at the parking lot and is one of the best places to get to if you plan to view wildlife and just spend some quiet time, getting close to nature. Sit back and relax on one of the benches on your trail and take in the view of the pond and the wildlife around.

Timber trail (1.3 miles)

Parking off 30th Street. Follows old logging routes through pines and oak forests.

Turtle trail (0.4 miles)

The 0.4-mile Turtle Trail, across from the park entrance goes to a pond stocked with fish for kids to catch.

Whispering Pines trail (0.6 miles)

Short loop through pines from the Glacial Lake Trail.

Buckhorn State Park Picnic Areas & Shelters
I don’t know about you but I love when I see these selfie stands! It is a challenge to get a goofy shot!

Buckhorn State Park Picnic Areas & Shelters

Buckhorn State Park has two picnic areas complete with shelters, water pumps, grills, tables, and playground equipment.

You’ll also find volleyball nets set up at the picnic and beach area and some horseshoe pits near the north camp area. You can pick up a volleyball or horseshoes for the day from the park office.

Bird watching at Buckhorn State Park

Osprey are the rare gems here. Buckhorn is the furthest north they nest in Wisconsin. Their nests, made of sticks, are high on utility poles or tree branches near water and are difficult to see.

Osprey are slowly increasing in number since DDT nearly took them out – while still on the endangered list, they are gradually making a comeback.

Watch for their large wingspan and long “fish catching” legs dangling below as they soar over Buckhorn State Park. Important: Buckhorn is the only place in Wisconsin where osprey are known to nest on poles. Follow this link for more information about these endangered birds.

There are plenty of opportunities to get a closer look

Hunting and trapping at Buckhorn State Park

Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park from September 15th to November 10th. The designated use areas, including trails, are off-limits for trapping during those same dates.. Certain trap types are restricted on state park properties. For more information, please see:

Two wildlife areas are adjacent to the park. Hunting seasons vary between the Buckhorn Wildlife Area, the Yellow River Wildlife Area and the park.

Buckhorn State Park has an accessible two-story wildlife observation/hunting blind, as well as accessible waterfowl hunting blinds in the wildlife area. If a person with disabilities wishes to use this type of blind for hunting purposes, they can reserve it by contacting the park.

Make sure you check out the State of Wisconsin Hunting Information.

Buckhorn State Park in Winter

The Buckhorn Wildlife Area is open in winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. With about 6 miles in trails you are all set for fun when there is enough snow!

winter in peninsula state park

A sit-ski is available in winter to use on the cross-country ski trails. Snowshoes are available to check out for free at the park office and can be used in the park. For. Free.

Do you like to ice-fish? Be careful as the ice tends to change quickly – and there is SOME equipment you can check out.

Biuckhorn 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 Adams County Humane Society at (608) 339-6700.

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 Canadian geese, herons, sandhill cranes, ducks, muskrats, beavers, otters, and mink all frequent the marshes and sloughs. Uplands are home to whitetail deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, and even an occasional black bear. Hawks and owls hunt remnant prairies and mixed oak-pine stands in search of mice, snakes, insects, and other prey.

Buckhorn State Park Picnic Areas & Shelters
It really is just incredibly beautiful at Buckhorn State Park – you need to visit soon!

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • 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.

Get Your Wisconsin State Park Sticker Now

Day pass or annual pass, it gets you in any Wisconsin State Park. YES, there are discounts for Wisconsin residents.

Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

Get it here –> Wisconsin State Park Pass Info

Vacation Rentals Near Buckhorn State Park

The pricing for individual vacation rentals near the state park range between $120-$750 per night. You’ll need to do a quick search and refine the results based on your needs. Some rentals are pet friendly and some others are close to the fishing pier- it all depends on what you really prefer, and how much you’re willing to shell out.

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Complete Guide to Big Foot Beach State Park

The Big Foot Beach state park is a 271-acres piece of land located on the shores of Lake Geneva in the Southern Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest. This is a busy vacation destination during the summer season, with campers, hikers, and outdoor lovers coming to enjoy the fantastic attractions found in the park and Lake Geneva nearby.

Complete Guide to Big Foot Beach State Park

The beach is not large (at 1900 feet of lakefront) but it is one of the most pristine (and crowded beaches) on Lake Geneva. There is a lot to do and see in this park, and around the lake.

Complete Guide to Big Foot Beach State Park

If you visit here seeking an amazing camping and vacationing experience, read on for a complete guide to Big Foot Beach State Park.

History Big Foot Beach State Park

The naming of this park has a deep history, dating back to before 796 A.D. Some of the members of the Anishinaabe tribe (a mixture of native Americans who had both Canadian and American roots) settled on lake Geneva, somewhere in the 18th century as they fled to the west in pursuit of better places to settle down for farming and to escape their warring neighbors. 

The tribes that settled here (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi) created a close-knit society, and each tribe had its role to play. The Ojibwe were considered to be the ‘elder brother’, and they eventually spread across Wisconsin, advancing the Middle Mississippian culture wherever they went and leaving their marks (mounds and stockades) as far as the Azlatan State Park, and probably further south. The Odawa were the ‘middle brother’ and proficient traders and the Potawatomi were known as the ‘keepers of the fire’. 

Chief Big Foot and the Potawatomi Tribe

The Potawatomi tribe settled in the region near and around Lake Geneva because they valued the resources that were present in the region. There were rich fishing grounds, large, fertile tracts of land for farming, and lush forests that were home to wildlife that supplemented their food through hunting and trapping.

The women gathered tubers and roots that they used as food or for medicinal purposes. The reeds around the lake and lagoons in the region were used to weave mats that would be sold or traded for essential goods they could not find in the region. 

History suggests that Chief Big Foot was a ruthless chief, someone who ruled with a firm hand and was not afraid of starting wars. He was born somewhere between the 1780s and 90s as Oginouy Tigo and got his nickname from a dancing session when clay stuck to his moccasins, making his feet appear larger.

He is renowned for being part of the treaty that agreed to give up their land on Geneva Lake and get relocated to Kansas after coming up with a compensation plan with the government. He would later lead his tribe away but the forest was named after him as a tribute.

Lake Geneva and Big Foot Beach State Park

Lake Geneva is a huge (5,401 acres) body of natural, freshwater located in Walworth County. The lake is accessible to the public, with clear and well-marked swimming areas in different locations. The water in the lake is clean, pristine, and a rich ground for a wide variety of water sports and leisure activities that include boating, yacht racing, paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, and scuba diving. 

There are four beaches on this lake, including the Big Foot Beach, the Fontana beach (in Fontana village), the Riviera Beach, and the Williams bay beach. 

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Ceylon Lagoon and Big Foot Beach State Park

About half a mile from the park you will find this 6-acre lake that is also among the favorite fishing spots for campers inside the Big Foot Beach State Park and hikers exploring Lake Geneva and the surrounding attractions. The most common fish species available here include the Black bullhead, the largemouth bass, and the common carp. You may also find other fish species (such as paddlefish, catfish, salmon, and trout) in limited quantities. 

Be sure to follow the fishing regulations on Ceylon Lagoon. For instance, you can only motor-troll with up to 3 hooks, lures, and baits per angler. Catch and release fishing is a popular spot here.

This is an amazing region for having picnics surrounded by scenic beauty. They have set up tables around for this purpose. The trails leading to this location are also wheelchair-accessible and ideal for people seeking to have peaceful and tranquil walks.

Big Foot Beach State Park Camping

Camping in Big Foot Beach Park is a prolific activity, with over 100 wooded campsites. These campsites accommodate both RV and tent campers. There are numerous open spaces where families can camp, and kids will have lots of ground to play on.

Big Foot Beach State Park

Campsites in the upper loop have a gravel pad, fire ring, and picnic table. There are 34 sites with electric pedestals and 2 are accessible. Tent sites in the lower loop are a short walk from your vehicle (30-100 feet). Each has a fire ring and picnic table.

The campground has a dump station, vault toilets and a shower building and all hiking trails will be easily accessible from your campsite.

RVing at Big Foot Beach State Park

The 34 designated RV campsites come fully equipped with electrical dumps and electrical hook-ups. The RV sites are not large but the ground is leveled, meaning you can easily squeeze in a big rig. Spaces will be tight though and privacy will be minimal. They recently installed private showers and more clean restrooms for the campers in the RV campground.

Activities in Big Foot Beach State Park

Outdoor lovers will love spending time in this park. A camping expedition would not be complete without the exploration of the beautiful trails in this park or engaging in water sports activities in Lake Geneva. Here are some of the best activities you can indulge in while you are in this location:

Big Foot Beach State Park Water Sports

Lake Geneva is known for its clear, clean water. Big Foot Beach has a 100-foot marked swimming area.

Fishing at Big Foot Beach State Park

Fishing is done either in Lake Geneva or on the Ceylon Lagoon. If you are a camper here, you will be loaned fishing equipment freely from the park’s office. You will need to be aged over 16 years and possess a fishing license before you are allowed to fish here. 

What we love? An accessible fishing pier is a short distance from the disabled parking area.

Swimming on Big Foot Beach 

Although the shoreline of Lake Geneva on the Big Foot State Park is not large, swimming is still a popular activity here. There are no swim guards on duty, but the waters are shallow and clean.

An evening lounge at the beach, coupled with swimming and watching the sunset is an amazing way to end a long day in this park. The beach is also a bit removed from the public camping sites but the short trail takes you through scenic locations before ending at this shoreline.

It makes for a perfect place to cool off on a hot day – just read our section on dogs (below) before you let Fido join you!

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Big Foot Beach State Park Boating, paddle boarding, and kayaking

There are two places you can launch your boat on Lake Geneva; the southern part of the park or in Linn Township. If you are a true adventurer, you can always find other locations to launch your boat from the park.

You can rent a kayak or a boat near the park or in Lake Geneva town. The park’s staff will come in handy with information on how to go about this of you can check our list below of close places to visit. 

Lake Geneva is ideal for whitewater kayaking and canoeing. If you are a beginner kayaker, take a guided trip using different adventure companies and agencies close to the lake.

Popular agencies for canoe and kayak trips on Lake Geneva;

Clear Water Outdoor, LLC

  • Location: 744 W Main St, Lake Geneva WI 53147
  • Website: https://clearwateroutdoor.com/
  • They will handle all your needs, including renting gear and offering guides for the trip.

Fontana Paddle Company

  • Location: 454 Lake Street, Fontana WI, 53125
  • Website: https://www.fontanapaddleco.com/
  • Sightseeing boat tours operate from mid-April through November on Lake Geneva. There are numerous options available, including private boat charters and cruises.

Hiking and walking trails at Big Foot Beach State Park

Big Foot Beach State Park may have a small beach, but it makes it up with a series of beautiful, natural trails. The most popular ones include:

Lake Geneva Shore trail

Length: 21 miles

This loop takes you on a parallel course to Lake Geneva, offering you fantastic views of the lake while still sheltering you under a canopy of lush vegetation. It is a moderate and popular trail and pets are allowed if they are on a leash.

The paths are also well marked but you need to be careful when navigating some sections where the ground is more treacherous and too slippery. These sections are dangerous at night. This is the reason why this path is only explored during the daytime.

There are not many restrooms along the trail, so sort your bathroom needs before you begin your walk. The rugged terrain is not good for biking.

The shore path runs through both private and public properties, so hikers are advised to be respectful to others on the path and the homeowners in this location. Enjoy looking at meticulously maintained gardens and yards and the beautiful views of the pristine waters of the lake. The lake runs parallel to your course. Take time to enjoy the scenery and the unique architecture of some of the old buildings and statues you will come across as your hike.

Big Foot beach trail

Length: 4 miles

This trail stretch takes you through wooded areas and along the shores of Lake Geneva. It is an all-natural trail (apart from small paved sections) hence biking may not be ideal. You will be walking inside a beautiful pine forest, with several muddy sections to keep everything interesting. Numerous other short trails branch off from this one. 

big foot beach state park hiking trail map

Other trails inside Big Foot State Park

There are other shorter hiking trails within this pack, ideal for day hikers and campers who just want to watch the birds or enjoy the tranquility in the woods.

Blue trail 

Length: 0.9 miles

Take a walk through a patch of tall hardwoods in this nature trail and enjoy watching the birds or catching an occasional glimpse of a wild animal. This is a moderate trail ideal for beginners. It is located at the western end of the park that would be great for horse riding as it opens to a picturesque grassland patch.

Orange trail

Length: 0.8 miles

On the Eastern end of the park, you will find this beautiful trail with some paved sections that take you through series of planted pines and prairie. It is a moderate trail.

Purple trail 

Length: 0.6 miles

This trail is in the northeast section of the park. It takes you through grassland and planted pines. It is fairly level, although it is more inclined than the Orange trail.

Red trail

Length: 0.5 miles

This trail is located inside the park – right in the middle. It is a level terrain that takes you through grassland and mixed hardwood area. 

Green trail 

Length: 2.9 miles

You will follow the perimeter of the park, taking in different views and sceneries throughout your hike. It has a combination of both leveled and uneven grounds, making it ideal for all types of hikers.

Black trail 

Length: 1.6 miles

You will enjoy walking among beautiful prairie and conifers on this trail. It is a moderately crowded trail located at the Southern end of the park. Some sections are a bit inclined. There are great sceneries to see along this trail.

Yellow trail 

Length: 1.2 miles

This trail is located in the western section of the park. It is also a moderate trail that takes you through grassland and woodland areas of the park. Bird watching is a common activity on this trail.

Candlelit hike

The friends of Big Foot Beach State park organize candlelit hikes in the park. It is an event that features an evening of walking along candlelit trails (usually a 0.8 miles long trail) and then gathering together for a fun night by the park’s bonfire ring. Check their website and social media platforms for more information on these kinds of events.

Bike trails at Big foot beach state park

Bike trails at Big foot beach state park

Most of the trails in Big Foot are natural trails which mean that they take you through rough, undeveloped terrain, and sometimes force you to brush tree branches aside to surge ahead. However, some sections are also perfectly suited for exploration by bike lovers, especially those who love to tackle challenging terrains.

There are no restrictions on where you can go with your bike inside the park, but you can ask the staff at the park’s office for better recommendations on the best biking trails to try out.

Picnicking at Big Foot Beach State Park

With over 40 acres set aside for picnics and other recreational activities (such as volleyball) within this park, having a great time with your family will come easy. There are about 150 tables set for this purpose and several charcoal grills. You can play volleyball with your family as you wait for the meal to get ready. The park’s office loans out these volleyballs freely. Pets are not allowed at the general picnic areas.

Wildlife at Big Foot Beach State Park

Expect to see different kinds of wildlife in this park- foxes, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, white-tail deer- depending on the season.

Bird watching at Big Foot Beach State Park

Most of the birds you will encounter inside this park are woodland birds. Friends of Big Foot Beach State Park organize bird-watching hikes several times during the year.

Some of the woodland birds to see here include wood thrush, eastern meadowlark, bobolink, great-crested flycatchers, and northern flickers. At night, expect to see owls and bald eagles. On the lake (especially in spring and fall seasons), you’ll see the merganser and horned grebe ducks.

Hunting and trapping at Big Foot Beach State Park

Hunting is a common practice here going back many years when the Potawatomi tribes ruled the lands. You will need to have hunting and fishing license and follow the Wisconsin State Parks trails hunting and trapping rules and regulations. Gun hunting is not allowed in this park. 

The best hunting times are in the fall/winter season from November 15 to around January 6th. Trapping is not allowed in closed areas of the park, or within 100 yards of hiking trails and other designated use areas, such as campsites. Archery hunting is allowed in spring, from April 1 through May 3rd. You will be given a map at the location to know the hunting and trapping zoned areas. Make sure you check out the State of Wisconsin Hunting Information.

winter in peninsula state park

Big Foot Beach State Park in Winter

Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and hiking (through the forest and in the open areas) are popular activities in the winter season in this park. Camping is not allowed during the winter season. The park’s staff creates tracks for cross country skiing if the situation allows. Ice fishing is also a popular activity but make sure you consult the office because this is a highly regulated sport for safety purposes.

Big Foot Beach 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 Walworth County Humane Society at (262) 723-1000.

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 more have all been spotted at the park.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • 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.

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Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

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Attractions close to Big Foot Beach State Park

Occasionally, we love to park and play. That means we camp in the area for a while and use that as home base as we explore the area. It can be fun to know what is in the area besides the incredible nature you immerse yourself in.

I find it also helps in the event of bad weather – hiking or kayaking in a mild monsoon (like my trip turned out last weekend) isn’t a ton of fun. Other ideas make for a plan B or even C…

Attractions close to Big Foot Beach State Park

Geneva Lake Museum

Location: 255 Mill Street, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Indulge your family in a bit of the history of the area at the Geneva Lake Museum. Take a walk through small, historic homes and learn about how people lived in this area many centuries ago.

Safari Lake Geneva

Location: W1612 Litchfield Road, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Experience “Jungle Jay’s” Safari Lake Geneva! This is a family-owned refuge for rare animals and animals that face the danger of extinction. You can get drive-through safaris and interact with the animals closely. The center also offers educational programs on animal and environmental conservation.

Animal Gardens

Location: 5065 WI-50, Delavan, WI 53115

On your way to (or from) the Big Foot Beach State Park, you can pop into this location to experience exotic animals and the singing parrot, nicknamed Echo. It is a petting zoo that also offers other numerous attractions including well-maintained grounds for holding events and parties, rides (train rides, pony rides, and tractor-pulled rides), and dancing horses shows.

Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures

Location: N3232 CO Road H, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

You can enjoy zip-lining, tackling challenging obstacle courses, snowshoeing, hiking, skiing, biking, and all sorts of outdoor adventure in this location.

Lake Geneva Cruise Line

A perfect way to end a trip to Big Foot State Park would be by taking a boat cruise on Lake Geneva. There are several options here, including public sightseeing cruises, private cruises, and wedding cruises. Cocktails and exotic food are offered on deck.

Restaurants and hotels near Big Foot Beach State Park

Restaurants and hotels near Big Foot Beach State Park

Most of the hotels close to the park are located in Lake Geneva town. Here are some of our favorite joints. Keep in mind that hands down, our favorite is the Simple Cafe. You can read more about it here: Simple Cafe Lake Geneva is Anything But Simple.

Next Door Pub & Pizza

Location: 411 Interchange North, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

This pub and pizza joint cooks its delicacies using the traditional, original stone-hearth oven design. They also have gluten-free options on their menu. You can enjoy a nice cocktail and listen to live entertainment as your food gets prepared.

Joni’s Diner

Location: 111 South Wells Street, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Grab a delicious omelet or burger from one of the finest (and oldest) establishments in Lake Geneva. The ambiance in this location is amazing and they have a wide selection of meals to choose from.

Geneva ChopHouse 

Location: 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

This is another American-themed hotel that serves tantalizing dishes. Be sure to test their signature wines and cocktails while you are here. Seafood, desserts, and steaks are the main delicacies.

Parking at Big Foot Beach State Park

There is ample and secure parking space inside the park. Display your vehicle admissions sticker to be allowed entry. Day hikers and backpackers get charged $8 per vehicle (with WI plates) and $11 per out-of-state vehicle. 

Directions to Big Foot Beach State Park

If you are coming from the Lake Geneva direction, head east towards Mill Street (following the West Main Street), then turn right and follow the South Lake Shore to the Big Foot Beach State Park.

Cities near Big Foot Beach State Park

  • Lake Geneva – 3.4 miles
  • Burlington – 13.4 miles away via WI-36 
  • Delavan – 15.8 miles via WI-50E

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Complete Guide to Brunet Island State Park

Want to know about the natural beauty and wonders of Brunet Island State Park? From hiking, kayaking, bird watching, wildlife viewing, camping, and more we have it all covered!

With over 1300 acres of scenic beauty and a number of adventure activities to keep yourself busy with, Brunet Island State Park is an excellent choice if you’re looking to take a trip alone or with your family!

Excited already? Here’s everything you need to know before you head there!

Complete Guide to Brunet Island State Park

From trekking and camping to kayaking and boating, there are a ton of activities and recreation opportunities to keep you busy while you’re here. And if you’re in the mood to sit back and relax, you’ve got that too!

Get there during the winter months to enjoy some classical-style skiing, or just sit by the pool during the warmer months of the year if you don’t want to put in a lot of effort.

A Quick Glimpse

The Brunet Island State Park is located right where the Fisher river joins the Chippewa River, with a major portion of the park located on an island in the Chippewa River, in the Northern Highland region of Wisconsin. The park connects to two major trails- the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and the Old Abe State Trail, and offers a number of campsites (69 to be specific), along with flush toilets, a playground, shelters, hiking trails, and electricity.

Plus, it is pet-friendly too!

History of Brunet Island State Park

The park is named after Jean Brunet who was born in France. He came to America when he was 18 years old. He was called a man of “considerable note” and served as an officer in the U.S. Army and participated in the building of Fort Crawford. Later he moved to Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, where he died at the age of 86.

Brunet was responsible for building the first dam and sawmill in Chippewa Falls. This opened up the area of the Chippewa Valley to an expanding lumber trade. He piloted his first raft of lumber down the Chippewa and Mississippi Rivers to Prairie Du Chien.

Jean Brunet had an idea to go north to the Chippewa River. When he got there, it wasn’t developed or explored. He built a log building that was also a trading post, supply depot, and meeting place for travelers. The Brunet trading post is near where you can see a historical marker today on State Highway 178 south of Cornell.

A ferry service was set up that would cross the river. Some of the foundation stones are gone now, but they were originally on the other side of the river from where there is a dam today. The man who set up this service was respected by everyone and he helped to make peace between Native Americans and European-Americans.

Teacher.  Missionary. Guide. Explorer. Brilliant engineer. The man was a legend AND his wooden damn across the Chippewa River not only lasted 60 years through floods and more, but it was beyond sound when it was torn down for replacement!

Brunet Island State Park

Enter Cornell

First named Brunet Falls, the town soon became Cornell.

A man by the name of Ezra Cornell helped to found Cornell University in New York, in fact, that university was named after him. He convinced the government of New York to buy land in Wisconsin for the university, and that made money for the school with the lumber industry. That is why changed the name of the university to honor him.

Cornell always visited Jean Brunet’s inn. Jean Brunet was a great help to Cornell in his work. He did a lot of scouting for timber and other things that Cornell needed.

Bring in the Industry

In 1911, a permanent dam was built by Cornell’s east side, on the Chippewa River. This dam was made at the same time that the Cornell Wood Products Company was started and it guaranteed steady employment in this area. The company made paper products, cardboard, and wallboard.

The mill worked year-round as it had steam pipes that helped keep its millpond from freezing over. They installed a stacker that is still in Cornell Mill Yard Park today. Pulpwood came in on railroad cars and then was housed in the millpond until the logs were sawed into 2 foot long pieces.

That stacker helped carry pieces of wood up high and then sorted and dumped them into different piles. They needed to be sorted into piles because they needed different grades of paper to be made. The pulpwood was then placed in water and floated to the paper mill.

In 1971 modern hydraulics made it obsolete and when paired with the paper industry slump? Well, that was pretty much the end. They filled in the pond and the park was formed.

It Became a State Park!

Northern States Power Company donated 179 acres of land to the state in 1936. The park was dedicated to Brunet’s memory in 1940. In 1938, the Civilian Conservation Corps built a shelter for people who want to go on the island. But it was destroyed by a storm in 1970 that some say was a tornado. Then 25 volunteers came and helped clean up all of the fallen trees and debris.

In the early years, there was a beach on the west side of the island near the campgrounds. In 1973-74, because of work on the dam, they drew down water level and it became dangerous. They moved to a new location at the south end of the island.

In 1977, another tornado landed on the island. It blew down 18 acres of hemlock trees in the park. The park was closed until the spring of 1978 because there were so many trees and leaves that covered everything. Now, birch trees have grown back in that area where there were huge hemlocks before.

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Brunet Island State Park Camping

Brunet Island has two family campgrounds. You can choose to reserve a campsite online.

69 sites between the North and South campgrounds, one being more rustic than the other.

The South campgrounds have just 24 campsites but have electricity, a shower building, and space accessible for people with disabilities (site 16E).

You can also choose to set up camp in the North campground, which has 45 campsites. The only downside here is the fact that there’s no electricity. Please remember that the use of generators is forbidden in Wisconsin State Parks – and, it is an obnoxious way to treat your camping neighbors. That being said, there are a few medical exceptions: Generator use in the Wisconsin State Park System

Rumor has it that there are pay showers. I can’t find anything to verify it but you might want to bring your quarters, just in case.

Brunet Island State Park Camping

Getting Supplies Near Brunet Island State Park

You’ll find many vendors in Cornell selling almost everything you need for your trip to the park, including camping supplies. Pick up fuel and basic groceries, or use the Laundromat on the main street. Personally, I suggest you plan ahead and save a lot of money – just check out our list of camping items you can get at your local Dollar Tree store!

The local vendors there also offer kayak and canoe rentals. For firewood, you can contact the campground host.

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The admissions sticker is mandatory on any and all motor vehicles stopping in the state parks, forests, and other recreational areas in Wisconsin. Get your sticker here.

Brunet Island State Park Activities

Brunet Island Is the top Wisconsin State Park for paddling adventures during your camping trip. All of the North loop campgrounds are on the water, which includes the lagoon. The island has a maze of channels that connects a number of lagoon-like ponds. Bring your bikes as the park is the northern terminus of the Old Abe Bike Trail a paved bike-only trail along the Chippewa River.

Picnicking at Brunet Island State Park

Brunet Island State Park has over 20 acres of picnic area available, mainly on the south and west sides of the island. Here, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful view of the countryside and the Chippewa River.

If you’re picnicking with kids, get yourself to the playground located at the southeast section of the picnic area. Remember that the park has a strict policy when it comes to the disposal of waste, so you’ll need to carry your trash with you while you leave.

Brunet Island State Park Water Sports

The park offers opportunities for you to go swimming, canoeing, boating and kayaking. Bring your canoe or kayak and paddle the lagoon. Locate a boat launch for access to more water in nearby lakes like Portage Lake, Big Catfish Lake, Spring Valley Reservoir, plus many others.

Brunet Island Bay State Park Fishing

Just near the north and south camp area, you’ll also find a fishing pier which is great for fishing enthusiasts. If you have a Wisconsin fishing license, you can take advantage of the free basic fishing equipment available at the park office, and hope to catch a variety of fish including catfish, muskie, northern pike, walleye, and even smallmouth bass.

Brunet Island State Park Swimming

As with most Wisconsin State Parks, there are no lifeguards on duty. They do have areas mapped out with ropes and buoys. Pets, food, and beverages are strictly not allowed in the beach area, so keep that in mind.

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Brunet Island State Park Kayaking, boating, and canoeing

The island is part of a long, thin piece of water that stretches 3.5 to 4 miles from the Cornell dam to the Holcombe dam. There are channels for flat-water paddling in the north part of the park where there are many undeveloped islands. You might need to watch out for rocks, especially ones at the south end near the town where water levels might change quickly.

The boat ramp is on an island not far from the entrance road. There are many spots to put boats in the park near the South Campground. You can also rent a canoe or kayak from Cornell and Holcombe.

Hiking at the Brunet Island State Park

There are over 8 miles of trails available for hiking enthusiasts at the park with varying levels of difficulty. This also includes two miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Jean Brunet Nature Trail

This is a trail where you can walk and learn about the environment around you as there are signs along the trail describing the history and nature of the area. The Jean Brunet Nature Trail starts near the main bridge to the island. It has 500 feet of paving for people who need help walking on it. There is also a table at the end so people can eat and fish there too!

Nordic Trail

You can start the hike from the park office and follow the Fisher river, exploring a variety of glacial terrain along the way.

You’ll find orientation signs to guide you throughout the 4.3 miles of the trail, and if you want to take a little stop during the hike to get some rest, you can use one of the many park benches.

Old Abe State Trail

This one’s a short one-mile hike that you can embark on foot or explore on your bike.

Pine trail

The Pine Trail is in an area enclosed by the loop of the park road. The Pine trail meanders through a red (Norway) pine plantation.

Spruce trail

The Spruce Trail follows along the Fisher River from the Pine Trail to the picnic area.

Timber Trail

The Timber Trail is perfect for those camping in the north campground since it also links to the beach and the picnic areas.

Biking at Brunet Island Bay State Park

Biking at Brunet Island Bay State Park

Bicycles are allowed on the roads and trails, but not on the Jean Brunet Nature Trail. The 2-mile main road through the park has a bike lane for people to ride.

Keep in mind that a state trail pass is required to use the Old Abe State Trail for all bikers and in-line skaters age 16 and older.

The trails for biking are: Old Abe State Trail, Pine trail, Spruce trail, and the Timber trail.

Brunet Island State Park Hunting

Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during a time period of September 1 through February 15. Certain traps are not allowed in state parks.

Brunet Island State Park in Winter

The Brunet Island Park has about 4.3 miles of cross-country ski trails for classical-style skiing. The trail winds around rolling hills and along the Fisher River. Call the park office to find out what is happening with the trails when you are there. During the winter months, people like to snowshoe on hiking trails in the park too.

winter in peninsula state park

Winter ice warning: The park does not monitor or measure ice conditions. Ice thickness and safety can vary from day to day and from location to location. Use your best judgment about the safety of the ice.

Brunet Island 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 Chippewa County Humane Society at (715) 861-5748.

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, beaver, otter, muskrat and mink have all been spotted at Brunet Island.

Nature and Brunet Island State Park

Hundreds of plant species live and grow in the park, which is in Wisconsin’s North Central Forest landscape.

I don’t want to say that the excessive deer population is hindering the growth cycle of the native hemlock, but that is a favorite for them to munch on – especially the younger trees. As the older ones die off – some other kind of tree will eventually take over.

The park it trying to turn that around – and you will see fenced off areas as they try to discourage the deer hemlock buffet.

Brunet Island State Park

There are so many different ferns, fungi, and flowers to see – it really is a feast for your eyes!

Wildlife of Brunet Island State Park

Deer are a given – you will probably see them often. There are also raccoons, skunks, squirrels, fox, woodchucks chipmunks, porcupine and grouse.

Seriously, those trash pandas will raid your campsite so keep your food tucked away correctly! They even opened and raided one of our coolers!

A fed animal is a dead animal. They learn to rely on humans instead of hunting for their own food and by feeding them? You will kill them. Please do NOT feed the animals. That also goes for the ones you will see when you are boating like beaver, otter, muskrat and mink.

See any babies? Leave them alone. Mom is usually near by and she won’t come feed or take care of them if you hang around.

Birds. Just wow. Blue herons, owls, osprey, or even bald eagles! This is a hot stop on the migration routes for so many of our feathered friends!

Parks Near Brunet Island State Park

The state park is also in close vicinity to some other parks including the Lake Wisotta State Park which sits on a whopping 1062 acres of forests and 6300 acres of a manmade lake.

You can also choose to visit Washington Creek State Wildlife Management Area, which is nearby which is a 515-acre property offering several recreational activities.

All of that adds up to an amazing location to surround yourself with nature. What are you waiting for? Make your reservation now!

Brunet Island State Park

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A Complete Guide to Big Bay State Park

At 2,350 acres, Big Bay State Park is the largest tract of land in Madeline Island, Lake Superior, Ashland County. Madeline Island is the largest island in the Apostle Island chain.

A Complete Guide to Big Bay State Park

Big Bay State Park is a popular camping ground with great attractions including a beautiful beach, a lagoon, bogs, stunning views of the ocean, sandstone bluffs, and lush vegetation.

A Complete Guide to Big Bay State Park

There is a lot to see and do here and this guide will offer you a complete overview of the park and information about how you can have an amazing experience when you visit this park.

The park is open year-round, even during the winter season. It opens at 6 am and closes at 11 pm daily. The best times to visit the park would be in July-August when the weather allows for much hiking, kayaking, and camping. Some people (especially winter sports lovers and hunters) prefer to visit in the Winter season as well. Spring and fall are quiet times here, with minimal crowds.

History of Big Bay State Park

Established in 1963, Big Bay State Park features stunning lake caves, sand bluffs, a beach shoreline, camping grounds, and numerous hiking and walking trails. It is the largest protected area in the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior.

The Ojibwa connection

The Big Bay State Park is located in La Pointe, a domain claimed to be home to the traditional Ojibwa/Chippewa community (Native Americans). French settlers came in as traders and established a fort in La Pointe, which later grew to become an important location for the American Fur company.

The head of the company, Michel Cadotte married the daughter of an Ojibwa chief (Madeline) and named the island after her.

The Ojibwe/Chippewa communities considered this island as a spiritual center and petitions by the chief led to the treaty of La Pointe (in 1854) that offered these local communities permanent reservations on the island and around the Big Bay State Park and successfully ended years of conflicts between them and the Mississippi cohort.

The Ferry Ride to Madeline Island

You can drive, bike, or hike to Big Bay State Park. However, most people enjoy using the ferry as part of the vacation excitement when visiting the park. You will spend extra money on the ride, but it will be worth it. The ferry makes several trips during the day.

It is a 20-25 minute voyage that gives you unparalleled views of the lake and the surrounding. The Madeline Island itself is refreshing, full of beautiful beaches, numerous hiking trails, and the La Pointe town has become a thriving shopping and entertainment location for people visiting the park. 

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Lakeshore Rock formations

The jugged, uneven coastline is another fascination for travelers in Big Bay State Park. You can take stunning photos standing on these rock formations, overlooking the massive Lake.

If you are a daredevil, dive from these cliffs to enjoy a swim in the lake. You can spend hours sitting on these rocks as you enjoy the cool sea breeze.

Camping at Big Bay State Park

There are a total of 60 campsites and all come equipped with amenities. Campgrounds tend to fill fast here, especially in the summer. 

Family campgrounds

The 21 campsites share common shower and toilet facilities. 7 of those sites are walk-in sites. These are spacious and private tents you can rent within the grounds. Instructions on how to camp can be found at the campground center. 

Outdoor Group Camps

There are two outdoor group camps in Big Bay and both are situated about half a mile from the family campgrounds. They are a bit secluded but being right at the edge of the water, they give you better access to the lake.

Amenities in the campgrounds

Amenities here include shared vault toilets and hand pumps. There are electrical hookups, showers, and flush toilets as well. You can purchase your food and other supplies from La Pointe, 7 miles away. There is a pet area, a wildlife observation deck, changing stalls, picnic areas, and parking spaces. If you are wild-camping, firewood is available for sale at the park center.

big bay state park campground map

Other campgrounds near Big Bay State Park

If (by any chance) you find the few campgrounds at Big Bay State Park full, there are other options to explore, close to the park.

Big Bay Town Park campgrounds

The number of campsites: 61 (22 electric, and 6 remote sites. The rest are family campsites. RV campsites available as well)

Activities: Camping, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, bird watching, snowshoeing

Amenities: Fireplaces for campers and picnic, shower facilities, restroom, firewood available for sale.

This town park is situated directly opposite the Big Bay State Park, about 6 miles from the ferry dock at La Pointe. You will have access to the Big Bay State Park and the big lagoon. The view of the lake from the camping grounds here is stunning. 

Big Bay State Park Activities

The crashing of the Lake Superior water waves against the rocks makes for an exciting scene, especially when there is a fierce storm. The golden color and waves of Lake Superior in the fall enhance the experience for outdoor lovers here.

Big Bay State Park Water Sports

When the waters are calm on Lake Superior, you may find some people daring to dive in for a swim. This is considered to be the largest freshwater lake in the world. It is about as large as the state of South Carolina!

Scuba diving, swimming, kayaking, boating, and other forms of water sports are common activities in this lake. There are no sharks to worry about when exploring Lake Superior.

Big Bay State Park Fishing

Lake Superior is a rich ground for trout fishing. If you prefer to fish in the lagoon inside the park, you can catch the northern pike. Just make sure you have your fishing license and you are good to go year-round.

Big Bay State Park Swimming

Lake Superior creates a narrow but stunning beach in the Big Bay State Park. It stretches on for about 1.5 miles along the shore. This is one of the best beaches in the Apostle Islands, with soft, small-grained sands, and a shallow shore that allows swimmers to have a great time here.

The water of Lake Superior is so clean you can see the bottom of the lake. There are bathrooms and changing rooms close to the beach. 

To get here, you can decide to explore the beautiful boardwalk trail that provides several access points to the beach or you can take the staircases leading to the beach from the car park. Enjoy a great evening watching the sunset with your family or build beautiful sandcastles with your kids on the beach.

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Big Bay State Park Kayaking, boating, and canoeing

Kayaking and boating are popular activities here, especially in the summer. You can rent out a kayak and safety gadgets at the park. One unique feature of this park is that the beach faces east. As the sun rises, the water warms up, making it ideal for a great morning kayaking adventure. Boating is also allowed, especially in the deeper sections where swimming is prohibited.

Launch your kayak from the barrier beach and paddle around the sandstone cliffs to break from the park and get rewarded with beautiful views of both the lake and the park. Find your way through the sea caves and enjoy marine life through the clear, calm waters of Lake Superior. If you are a beginner kayaker, consider signing up for a kayaking tour because sometimes the lake can be unpredictable and when the waves come crashing, you could be caught in a tight fix.

Sea caves of Big Bay State Park

To visit the sea caves here, you can rent a kayak and launch from Joni’s beach or wherever you deem fit within the Big Bay State Park. The largest cliffs and sea caves can be found at the big bay point, about a mile from the beach. These are large, scenic caves that showcase a masterpiece of years of stone erosion by water.

Hiking at the Big Bay State Park

Although water is available at the park, it would be advisable to carry fresh water and enough food for a day hike in the park. When walking through the forest, carry bug spray to ward off irritating bugs and mosquitoes. There are numerous trails to explore here;

Point-Trail loop

Length: 0.5 miles

The point trail is a moderate loop ideal for beginners. It starts right at the parking area (close to the family campgrounds) before meandering into the forest, following the Lake Superior shoreline. You will enjoy stunning views of the Lake, the rugged rocks and cliffs, and the lush vegetation (ferns, maples, pines, and birches). The trail is well marked and there is an observation deck to sample everything the park has to offer in a glance.

Boardwalk trail

Length: 1 mile

The boardwalk trail runs along the shoreline, offering you excellent views of the beach. Some sections of the boardwalk are also wheelchair-friendly. You will be walking amidst thriving flora and fauna. There are numerous off-shoot trails to bring you closer to whatever attractions you want to observe intimately. You will pass by the barrier trail that brings you to the shoreline and back to the parking area.

The boardwalk was designed to protect the areas around the beach. You will find information plaques along the trail. Pets are not allowed on this trail.

Bay View Trail

Length: 1.3 miles

Start this trail at the parking lot, go through an open area past several picnic tables and enter into the forest. You will be walking along Lake Superior, enjoying great views of cliffs and the waves crashing into the rocks.

You will want to spend time taking beautiful photos at the designated lookout spot that provides uninterrupted views of the lake and the cliff. You can decide to combine this trail with the Wood trail if you want a longer hike. Bird watching is also a common adventure for people using this trail.

Lagoon Ridge Trail

Length: 2.5 miles

The Lagoon trail is not marked. It is a bushy trail that takes you through a natural environment with little human interference. People who walk this trail are looking for serene and peaceful moments to interact with nature.

Although it is not marked, it is an easy-to-follow trail as markings from previous hikers sort of show you the way. This is the trail that takes you through the sand spits, the lagoons, and the bogs in the park. It ends as a loop back to the parking area.

Hiking at Big Bay State Park

Biking at Big Bay State Park

Some people prefer exploring the park using bikes hired in La Pointe. It is a great way to enjoy what the park has to offer although some trails (lagoon trail and boardwalk barrier trails) may not be very ideal for biking. There are not biking trails on the beach.

Bird watching in Big Bay State Park

There are many birds on Madeline Island and people who come for this activity inside Big Bay State Park are never disappointed. There is an observation deck created for this purpose. Some of the birds you should expect to see include double-crested cormorants, seagulls, herrings, cliff swallows, blue herons, piping plovers, red-winger blackbirds, owls, terns, and balding eagles.

Big Bay Sand Spit and Bog

When taking a hike inside the Big Bay State Park, make sure to visit the sand spit and bog. You’ll find sand ridges, an extensive sphagnum-sedge bog, and a lagoon that opens up to the bay mouth. There are four zones to explore here; a dry, grassy beach, a 20-foot wide wet sand beach, a rear beach (heath zone) that slopes away from the beach sand, and a tall shrub zone.

On the west side of the sand spit, you’ll encounter beautiful aquatic vegetation submerged in shallow water. A series of conifers, black and white spruces, and other vegetation lies on the eastern side of the sand spit.

Red sandstone rocks

The jugged, outcropping rocks on the Lake Superior shoreline are spectacular. The rough-edged cliffs that have a red hue make a great platform for cliff jumpers. It is a scary sport but very thrilling when watching others jump into the pristine waters.

Lush vegetation

Big Bay State Park contains a variety of vegetation. The best way to experience this is by taking a hike through the park. For instance, if you walk through the Big Bay Sand Spit’s heath zone you will encounter a sparsely wooded region that contains white pines and open spaces that contain lichens, blueberry, junipers, huckleberries, and bearberries. 

You will also find giant hemlocks and numerous wildflowers growing freely in this park.

Stargazing

The night sky in Big Bay State Park is clear, especially in the summer. If you will be camping here, you will enjoy stargazing as you lounge by the beach or by your campfire.

Big Bay State Park Hunting

Hunter can enjoy hunting deer at the park. However, you need to get more information about the dates and hunting restrictions before you visit the park for this activity.

Big Bay State Park in Winter

Although the big bay is most active during the summer, it remains open throughout the year and some people prefer to visit during the winter so that they can enjoy winter sports here.

Skiing and snowshoeing are important and popular sports here during the winter. You can find equipment and other safety gadgets for rent inside the park.

As a safety precaution, do not explore unmarked roads. Rangers inside the park normally mark out different sections and roads to offer people directions on where to go and what to avoid during the winter season. Some of the sections are closed during winter. They will offer this information at the Park’s center

Winter hike

All trails are open throughout. However, you are advised to exercise more caution while walking on the ice during the winter season. The ice has not been tested to establish safety levels. There will be no leaves on the trees so do not expect to enjoy much in terms of vegetation but this also means that you will have almost completely non-interrupted views of the lake!

Big Bay State Park Wildlife viewing

During the winter season, you may encounter deer, beaver, red fox, or even black bear inside the park. This time is also the designated hunting and trapping season here. Different bird species keep migrating to the park while others migrate from the park in search of warmer weather.

Winter Safety Precautions

Always dress in layers when visiting the big bay park during the winter season. The weather here can be very unpredictable, and unforgiving. Cover exposed areas of your skin with cream to avoid cold burnouts when hiking (just as you would, while hiking in the sun). 

If you decide to go for a swim, be warned that the water will be very cold during this time of the year. 

If you will be driving from La Pointe, be wary of the slippery ice on the road. Drive slowly and carefully.

big bay state park and dogs

Big Bay 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 Ashland County Humane Society at (419) 289-1455.

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 Big Bay

Wildlife of Big Bay State Park

You may encounter several wild animals during your visit to Big Bay State Park. Most of these animals stay away from the areas frequented by human beings but it is possible to spot a coyote or a raccoon occasionally.

Follow the park’s guidelines when you come across these animals. For instance, do not feed them or leave your items exposed. Campers are advised to store their foods and other valuables in fool-proof containers. 

Always try to be environmentally conscious when visiting this park. This means that if you are exploring natural trails (such as the Lagoon trail), try the leave-no-trace concept by ensuring that you do not interfere with the environment or leave trash and other pollutants.

American Black bear

Bear sightings are rare in this park but always be keen when walking through the woods. The American black bear is the largest mammal in North America and although they seem cuddly, they can be very dangerous. Campers are especially advised to be extremely cautious and on the lookout for the bear when camping inside this forest.

If you go camping here, there are tips and tricks you can use to keep bears off your campsite. The national park service provides a guideline on what to do when you encounter black bears while hiking or camping in the woods.

Big Bay State Park Weddings and other events

What better way to get married than to do so in a place surrounded by wonders of nature? Many weddings have been conducted on the boardwalk and the beach in this park (and all over Madeline Island) over the years. The stunning vistas, beautiful beaches, and crystal-clear water make for amazing backdrops for any wedding ceremony.

Big Bay State Park Weddings

Historical locations around Madeline and Big Bay State Park

There are several interesting historical places to enjoy while visiting this park.

La Pointe

You can take a 3-mile (20 minutes) ferry trip from Bayfield to La Pointe. It is a short drive from Big Bay State Park to this town. It is a small town with a rich history and it is the only inhabited town on Madeline Island.

It was originally a French trading post in the 16th century before becoming an outpost for an American Fur Company in the 18th century. This is the spot where the Ojibway tribe grew. You can learn more about the Ojibwe People here

The local name for the town (in Anishinaabe language) is Mooningwanekaaning which means ‘Home of the Golden-breasted Flicker’. Fishing is the main activity here, so you may probably enjoy a good trout, whitefish, or siscowet dish in the quaint little hotels in the town. The locals love swimming in Lake Superior and each year they organize numerous swimming competitions that draw competitors from across the world.

Madeline Island Museum

Opened in 1958, this is the museum that documents the history of the Big Bay State Park, La Pointe, and the larger Madeline island area. Numerous exhibits and artifacts stored and displayed here detail the way of life of the Ojibwe people before and after they came into contact with the European foreigners. This island was among the earliest settlement outposts and trading centers that opened the interior of the nation for European exploration. 

Places of interest inside this museum include Casper’s center, the Old Jail, the American Fur Company building, the old sailor’s home, the pioneer barn, maple-sugaring kettle, and the fortified structures that were built by the French as far as the 17th century.

Big Bay Sloop 

These are the remains of a small unidentified (and sunken) sloop on Lake Superior, about 300 feet east of Big Bay State Park. Historians suggest that this sloop may have been used for commercial purposes (as a merchant’s vessel).

The site is a preserved and protected area today. After its discovery in 1990 as a Huron boat, historians could not authenticate the name of the vessel but the boat’s wire rigging and metal cleat places its usage between 1880 and 1920

Restaurants near Big Bay State Park

There are several fine dining and drinking places in La Ponte. Here are some of the favorites;

The Beach Club 

Location: 817 Main St, La Pointe WI 54850-2400. You get great views of Lake Superior and the ferries from the terraces of this club. There are docking facilities for customers here, so you are not restricted to whatever means you want to use-boat, car, walking, or by ferry. They have a great cocktail selection here.

Tom’s burned down cafe

Location: 234 Middle Rd, La Ponte, WI 54850-0222. This hippie bar has lots of funny and interesting signs everywhere. It is a great place to hang out, listen to the bands playing, have a drink, and just enjoy yourself. Everything here seems ‘disorganized’ in a kind of charming way. 

restaurants near big bay state park

The Copper Trout

Location: 250 Rittenhouse Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814-5046. This is a seasonal restaurant that serves fresh fish, delicious Italian-style pasta, Black Angus beef steaks, and gourmet pizza. They have vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free and vegan options. It is a small, popular restaurant, with a limited seating capacity.

Mannypenny Bistro

Location: 201 Manypenny Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814-5028. This is a family-owned restaurant and bakery that prides itself in making the best pizza in La Ponte. They have a good selection of American and Turkish sandwiches and wood stove oven pizza that comes with a bottomless cup of drip coffee. Try their delicious blackened chicken quesadilla served with red beans next time you visit this place!

Pier Plaza restaurant & Pickled Herring Lounge

Location: 1 Rittenhouse Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814-5018. This is an all-inclusive restaurant. You can stay here, dine and have a great time at the lounge. The views of the lake and the pier are breathtaking from this location. The rooms have a lake-view balcony, with a wide variety of amenities to choose from.

Hotels near Big Bay State Park

There isn’t a whole lot to choose from in the area as a lot of people go here to actually camp. We found ONE we would recommend:

Landmark Restaurant at Old Rittenhouse Inn

Location: 301 Rittenhouse Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814-5016

This is a bed and breakfast hotel overlooking Lake Superior. It is set on a historic property, in an old Queen Anne Victorian mansion that is ripe grounds for a romantic getaway, or a wedding. 

Directions to the Big Bay State Park

From La Pointe, take highway H to Hagen Road (about 4 miles away) and continue along this road to the entrance of the park (about 2 miles away). From April to December, you can catch a ferry boat from Bayfield to La Pointe. If you are using your boat, you can launch from the public landing in Bayfield or a private landing on Madeline Island.

Check out other Wisconsin State Park Guides

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A Complete Guide to Aztalan State Park

Aztalan State Park is considered to be the largest and most important archeological site in Wisconsin. It is located in Aztalan town, Jefferson County. The park is renowned as the grounds where tribes of Native Americans thrived between AD. 1,000 and AD. 1,300.

A Complete Guide to Aztalan State Park

Their existence is evident from the flat-topped mounds they left behind, influenced by the Middle Mississippian culture. Today, the 172-acre park serves as a recreation and protected National historic landmark. 

Complete Guide to Aztalan State Park

A visit to Aztalan State park offers exciting insights into the lives of the people who used to live in Aztalan centuries ago. There is a lot to see and do here as you are about to find out.

History of Aztalan State Park

The way of life of the early settlers on Aztalan was largely influenced by the Middle Mississippian tradition. Most of the Native Americans practicing this tradition settled in Cahokia, but some are believed to have streamed into Aztalan and created another settlement here. Just like in Cahokia, you will find mounds (made from the earth) and stockades (made from logs), some evidence of pottery, and some evidence of farming. 

The early life of Aztalan residents

The archaeological exhibits collected from the mounds in the park show that the Native Americans who lived here practiced a hybrid form of life. They were farmers, fishermen, and hunters. The proximity to bodies of water (such as the Crawfish River) turned them into prolific fishermen. They used crude tools to till their land and the corn they harvested was stored in the mounds they had created.

They also lived in a close-knit society, with rectangular and circular houses concentrated in one location. Archaeologists believe that this kind of settlement was also important as a security feature. By being close together, they could quickly mobilize and protect their villages.

Aztalan Mounds and Stockades

The mounds were believed to have served several purposes. Some say that they were used for storing the agricultural produce, or housing the village political leaders, while others say that they may have been reserved for religious ceremonies and rituals in the community. 

Today, only three mounds remain in Aztalan State Park and excavation was halted after the land became a protected site and registered as an important historical landmark in 1966, 12 years after it was opened to the public as a state park. The mound in the northwestern region of the park was used as a burial site.

The Princess Burial Mound

The Princess Burial Mound

This mound was built to mark the burial ground of a young woman. The careful way in which the young woman was buried depicts that the woman was an influential person and hence the ‘princess’ title. The archaeologists who discovered her could not find any similarity to the way she was buried with the other bodies they found.

They felt that she must have been an important figure in her society to warrant such a send-off. Her hands adorned ornate belts and beads and she was laid on her back, and her hands carefully placed on her sides before the grave was filled up.

The Stockades

The stockades are believed to have been designed for protection purposes. A series of logs set vertically from the ground were reinforced by weaving willow through them and then covering them with clay and grass. Some stockades were built in layers, offering several protective shields and a good base to shoot arrows at the enemies.

Most of the stockades on the park were later ruined as people tried to reclaim the land for agricultural purposes. It took the intervention and reconstruction efforts by friends of Aztalan to give this land the protected status as a way of trying to preserve the history and tradition of the Native Americans. Today, you will see some of the reconstructed stockades near the Crawfish River.

How Aztalan became a State Park

The process of converting this piece of land into a state park began in 1922. Local Jefferson residents were concerned that the diggings around the mounds would quickly erode the historical significance these mounds held. Originally, the state park was called Mounds Park because of these mounds. There were more than 40 mounds in this park at one time.

Once the flattening and erosion of these mounds started, the residents came together and decided to purchase part of the park as a conservation effort. They turned the park to Wisconsin Archeological society. More land was later purchased (and other parcels donated by the residents) to create what is officially recognized as Aztalan State Park today. 

No form of digging or archaeological excavation is allowed on the grounds of this park today, as a way of protecting this middle Mississippian tradition.

The Aztalan Museum

Lake Mills-Aztalan historical society was mandated to operate the Aztalan museum. This historical society was instrumental in the preservation of the land and the culture of the locals here. They donated some of their lands to the park. When visiting Aztalan, head over to the museum that is located on the North of the park to have a self-guided tour and learn more about the park. There are two old church buildings on this location as well. 

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Is Aztalan State Park Haunted?

There have been rumors that the State Park is haunted. No one can prove that but people say that the park has a certain ‘feel’ to it when you visit here.

Native Americans

Many people believe that many eerie things have happened in the park, especially close to the burial mounds. People say that they develop a feeling of being ‘watched’ whenever they visit the park, especially when they are exploring these mounds. Y

ou feel as if someone else (someone you cannot see) is there with you, watching your every move. The locals believe that the native Americans who settled there many centuries ago were angered by the destruction of their final resting place. Many of these settlers are believed to have come from Cahokia in search of a place to create home and build farms. 

The mysterious disappearance of the Natives

No one knows definitively why these native Americans abandoned Aztalan. Some archeologists and historians believe that the community dispersed in search of better places to stay after environmental degradation while others believe that they may have been driven away by conflicts from other tribes, or by some sort of natural calamity.

How these Native Americans disappeared from the location remains a mystery as well. No one seems to know about where they went, or why they left the place. The other tribes that lived in the area during that time have a well-documented history to the present day. What happened to the Aztalans? Where did they go?

Evidence of butchered bodies

Some researchers found butchered bodies and human heads, adding to the weird mystery surrounding the park. Many wondered whether these Native Americans were cannibalistic and although it has not been proven, it makes the place seem eerie, especially at night.

Aztalan State Park Camping

So, there is no camping in Aztalan State Park. Unlike other parks in Wisconsin, Aztalan is great for a day exploration (or a weekend excursion) but not ideal for adventurers seeking to camp for many days, unless you are en route to other attractions within the State. There are great campgrounds close to the park you can explore if you decide to camp here.

Aztalan State Park Camping

Duck Creek Campground

More information: Duck Creek Campground Website

Amenities: WiFi, laundry, Dog Park, sandpits, basketball court

This is a small, family-owned campground. It has 4 rustic cabins and 4 rental trailers. 81 of the 134 campsites are seasonal sites. From this location, you can visit the Aztalan State Park and other key attractions within Aztalan, including shopping malls and the Ho-Chunk casino. 

Blackhawk County Club

More information: Blackhawk country club website

Amenities: Bowling alley, golf, laundry, WiFi

Blackhawk is an old and popular campground in Aztalan and with its proximity to Aztalan State Park, it offers the perfect setting for relaxation after a long day of walking the park’s grounds. 

Jellystone Park Camping resort

Amenities: Game room, Fishing, laundry, restaurant, golf

More information: Jellystone park website

You will find comfortable cabins in the campground at the Jellystone resort. They offer numerous outdoor entertainment options, including visits to Aztalan State Park and other spots within the county.

Aztalan State Park Activities

Aztalan Water Sports: The Crawfish River

The Crawfish River is an important part of the park’s history. You will find the ceremonial center of the village on the banks of the river, something that suggests that the villagers used the river for many purposes (such as religious rituals), besides being a source of food and water for irrigation. It was also an important transport and trade route for these early inhabitants.

You can go fishing in the Crawfish River. Keep in mind that Fishing licenses apply.

Canoeing and boating

Although there is no special boat launching pad, canoeing and fishing is a popular activity on Crawfish River. If you love fishing, you may enjoy catching a good stock of catfish, walleyes, and northern pikes that are plenty in this river. Kayaking and paddling also happen on this river, although the section that passes through Aztalan is calm and ideal for paddling or beginner kayakers. 

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Walking/hiking at Aztalan State Park

The hiking trails in Aztalan are short and numerous plaques and boards strategically placed along these routes offer you comprehensive information about whatever you come across. You can take amazing photos of these attractions here as well. There are lots of wildflowers (especially on the banks of the Crawfish River) which offer the perfect setting to have a great picnic with your family.

Aztalan trails

Length: 1.9 miles loop

The longest walking trails here are only 1.9 miles, which makes the park an ideal location for a day hike. You can take on the trail that leads to the West bank of the river, then onto the mounds, or take the trail in the South of the building that takes you through the wildflowers and onto the mounds.

Kids can enjoy sighting birds or collecting bugs in the foliage, or run in the open as you push your way from one mound to the other. No guided tours are offered in this park.  

Aztalan Trail Map

Aztalan State Park Biking

Biking is allowed in Aztalan State Park. You will need a state park sticker though. There are areas you are prohibited from biking or driving inside the park as a way of conserving the environment and the property located there.

Cultural celebrations in Aztalan State Park

The Ho-Chunk/Winnebago tribes are the ones who took up the role of keeping the middle Mississippian traditions in Aztalan alive through enacting their way of life in dances and festivals that happen annually.

The friends of Aztalan organize different events during the year, including a Native American Day that occurs in July. it features a colorful display of the way of life of the Native Americans, with traditional dances, exaggerated clothing, and traditional rituals. They communicate and offer more information about these festivals on their website

Aztalan State Park Hunting and trapping

Although hunting and trapping are allowed in this park, you have to conform to the regulations of Wisconsin’s State Park. For instance, if you are hunting with a bow/crossbow, you can do so from 15 December to 6 January although the hunting and trapping season opens on November 15.

You are also not allowed to discharge a firearm within 100 yards of a building. You can inquire at the state’s center for more information if you are interested in this spot.

Aztalan State Park in Winter

As this is a day park, you will find a lot less “planned” activities for winter. Cross-country skiing is allowed, but trails are not groomed. Snowshoeing and winter hiking are permitted.

Please note: sledding is not permitted at the park. It is illegal to sled on the mounds as these are culturally tied into Native American religion. Please be considerate.

Aztalan 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.

Pets are allowed only in designated areas and they must be on a leash and under control at all times. You will find maps with areas you can take your dogs all around the park. Always pick up after your dog and do not let the dogs wander onto the preserved sites. Carry enough food and water for the dog as well. 

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t micro-chipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Jefferson County Humane Society (920) 674-2048.

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.

How to get to Aztalan State Park

How to get to Aztalan State Park: Directions

The town of Lake Mills is just about a half-mile away from Aztalan State Park. This makes it convenient for people who would like to stop and replenish their supplies, or fuel. There used to be a small trailer in the visitor center but I would advise you to carry your food and supplies.

There is sufficient parking, both in Aztalan and in Lake Mills town. From Lake Mills town, at Exit 259, take a detour and drive on for a few minutes to get to the State Park. If you are coming from the West on Interstate Highway 94, get to County B by going south on State highway 89 to the Lake Mills town.

If you are coming from the east on Interstate Highway 94, take the State Highway 26 south to Johnston Creek to get into highway B then follow the road to Lake Mills.

State permit

You will need a Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker to get into Aztalan State Park. This permit also allows you to get into all the state parks, forests, and recreation parks in the State.

When to visit

The park is open daily from 6 am to 11 pm. Entry fees are charged at the center. The museum is opened from Thursday to Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm. The best time of the year to visit is from mid-May through late September or early October.

Restaurants near Aztalan State Park

Here are some of our favorite restaurants;

Tyranena Brewing company

Location: 1025 Owen Street, Lake Mills. This is home to the famous Tyranena beer. Enjoy a weekend of fun, music, and great food while sipping the local brew.

Crawfish Junction

Location: W6376 County Road A Johnson Creek. If you love eating fish, pop into this restaurant for their delicious fish fry, burgers, seafood, and sandwiches.

Pyramid Event Venue

Location: 117 S Main St Lake Mills. This is an event venue that serves great food and cocktails as you enjoy numerous performances daily. 

El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant Lake Mills

Location: 102 E Madison St Lake Mills. This is one of the best Mexican in the State and they serve Mexican and other exotic cuisines. Pop in for great-tasting margaritas and tacos.

The Grist Bar and Table

Location: 103 S Main St Lake Mills. This is a small but great location which offers you amazing views of the downtown. The ambiance is set perfect for people seeking to have a great, relaxed, and exciting night.

Other articles you may find interesting:

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Complete Guide to Blue Mound State Park

If you’re looking for a place to spend the day outside with family and friends, then look no further! Blue Mound State Park has everything from hiking trails, fishing lakes, campgrounds, and more. Read on for more information about what this park has to offer.

Complete Guide to Blue Mound State Park

Blue Mound State Park is an amazing place to visit if you want to get away from it all. Whether you are looking for some time camping out in nature or just want a change of scenery from your regular life, Blue Mound State Park will not disappoint. There are many different things that make Blue Mound so great such as its beautiful hiking trails and lakes full of fish waiting to be caught by anyone willing to put in the effort needed.

A Complete Guide to Blue Mound State Park

Perched on one of the tallest hills in Southern Wisconsin, the Blue Mound State Park is an excellent place to get to if you’re craving for a little peace and quiet. With a plethora of activities to try and some beautiful accommodations nearby, you just can’t go wrong. But before you start making plans, here’s a quick, go-to guide of the park, and everything else you need to know about.

A Little Glimpse

The park, which is spread across 1,153 acres, is known for its pair of observation towers that get you a stunning view of the Wisconsin River valley, the forests of the Driftless Area, the plains, and the city of Madison.

There are a lot of activities for outdoor enthusiasts to try out, and at the same time, it also appeals to those who just want to sit back and relax, thanks to the solitude it offers.

The Driftless Area of Southern Wisconsin is a region that has been largely untouched by glaciers, and it offers a unique ecosystem with bountiful wildlife.

History of Blue Mound State Park

The Blue Mound State Park was founded in the year 1959 by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It is open all throughout the year and has a lot of amenities within the campground area.

Blue Mound State Park Camping

For camping enthusiasts, the Blue Mound State Park has 77 wooded sites to offer, and there’s even an accessible cabin for those with disabilities. There are both RV sites as well as tent sites available within the campground area.

If you like electricity at your site you need to know that sites 12, 13, 25, 28-39, and 61 are the only ones that have electrical hookups.

Group Camping

There is NO separate group camping location at Blue Mound, organized groups may camp and make reservations in the family campground. There is a limit of six persons per campsite. That just means you need to book early – so you can get those sites right next to each other.

There is a section of the campground that is in the hiking/biking area – just so you know that no cars are allowed at those sites.

One word of warning here – there is a serious herd of Trash Pandas at this park. Keep you food out of their reach and put away or you will be ensured to get these beyond bold visitors at night.

Blue Mound State Park Water Sports

Blue Mound is a little different as there is no lake to play on. That kind of eliminates boating and fishing. You can still swim there though…

Swimming

The Blue Mound State Park is the only state park in the whole of Wisconsin that also features a swimming pool and a splash pad. There are lockers to keep your belongings safe and a nice shower area too.

But that’s not the only reason why this is one of the most popular attractions at the state park- the pool also features an ADA lift chair to help those in need of assistance.

The pool is open daily (weather permitting) from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

You need to know that there are no lifeguards on duty and that anyone under 16 needs to be accompanied by an adult. They are not a daycare – just a pool.

Please note that there is an additional fee to use the pool:

Daily Fees

  • Ages 2-17: $2
  • Ages 18 & older: $3

Season Pass

  • Ages 2-17: $30
  • Ages 18 & older: $45

While the pool is a bit dated, there is a plan to renovate it on the horizon.

Wisconsin State Park Free Printable
Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Blue Mound State Park Hiking

Blue Mound State Park has a number of trails with varying levels of difficulty.

 Flint Rock Nature Trail

One of the most popular trails, this self-guided 1.3-mile long trail is an easy hike and gives you a great chance to relish the geology of Blue Mound State Park.

Willow Springs Trail

This 2-mile trail is named so because it passes through a stand of willow trees and a hardwood forest. Take this hike to get a chance to gawk at a breathtakingly beautiful spring that flows throughout the year.

John Minix Trail

The Jon Minix Trail is one of the easiest trails, perfect for those looking to enjoy a low-impact outdoor activity. The trail is named after the previous owner of the park and is a simple walk around a hardwood forest.

Indian Marker Tree Trail

The Indian marker tree trail is named after the oak tree that was bent over some 100 years back, pointing towards a natural spring. It is half a mile long hike and is relatively easy.

Pleasant Valley Trail

This one’s another extremely easy trail that goes through a peaceful maple forest and has a variety of plant life to explore.

Weeping Rock Hiking Trail

The weeping rock trail is actually a mile-long extension of the Pleasant Valley Trail. You’ll get the chance to hike through some magnificent oak and maple trees and come face to face with a rock wall that has water from the springs seeping through it.

Blue Mound State Park Nature Center

The Blue Mound State Park nature center is the starting point for all of these trails and offers a variety of educational programs.

Nature Programs

If you’re looking to spend some quiet time, observing nature at its best, the Blue Mound State Park has you covered. It hosts a variety of nature programs and guided hikes, and there’s also a nature center where you can picnic and learn more about plant and animal life.

Plus, there’s also an amphitheater that hosts excellent nature programs in the evenings. And of course, on Saturdays, you can catch the Ghost Stories Into the Night Concert Series.

You can also take advantage of the 2 Nature Observing Towers at Blue Mound. These towers are located in the center of a prairie. From these high vantage points, you can see many different species of birds and wildlife that live on this land.

Blue Mound State Park Bike Trails

For bicycle enthusiasts, the Blue Mound State Park offers 15.5 miles of off-road trails that are moderate to hard in terms of challenge. You’ll need a state trail pass to get through, and you can cycle your way through the trails almost throughout the year unless there are certain unfavorable climatic conditions.

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Blue Mound State Park Hunting

Hunting is an option for enthusiasts at the Blue Mound State Park. You’ll need to acquire a license though. The park is home to cottontail rabbits, flying squirrels, coyotes, meadow mice, and even red and gray foxes, among many other animals. Deer are often spotted in the months of June, July, and August near the pool area.

In addition to the opportunities that are available during the state parks hunting/trapping time frame, hunting opportunities in state parks that were already established by rule and in place prior to the enactment of 2011 ACT 168, remain in place.

  • At Blue Mound State Park, this includes archery deer hunting, which is allowed in the park from Oct. 15 through the Sunday nearest Jan. 6.

Blue Mound State Park in Winter

At the Blue Mound State Park, you can also enjoy a number of recreational activities if you get there during the colder months of the year.

Snowshoeing at Blue Mound State Park

Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the park except on cross-country ski trails. A designated snowshoe trail with a 0.75-mile loop and a 3-mile loop has its trailhead on the east side of the pool parking lot.

winter in peninsula state park

Cross Country Skiing at Blue Mound State Park

You’ll find 10 miles of well-groomed trails which you can use to try cross country skiing. The following hiking and biking trails are converted over in the winter: John Minix, Pleasure Valley bike trail, Ridgeview trail, Walnut Hollow trail, and the Willow Springs trail.

Sledding at Blue Mound State Park

There’s an excellent hill where you can go sledding – just west of the cross-country ski trailhead in the pool parking lot.

Blue Mound 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.

All trails are dog-friendly when on a leash, except for in winter with the ski-prepped trails.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t microchipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the Dane County Humane Society at (608) 838-0413 or the Iowa County Humane Society at (608) 935-1381. Yes, this park covers two different counties.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Playgrounds
  • 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.

Blue Mound State park hiking trails

Get Your Wisconsin State Park Sticker Now

Day pass or annual pass, it gets you in any Wisconsin State Park. YES, there are discounts for Wisconsin residents.

Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

Get it here –> Wisconsin State Park Pass Info

Hotels Near Blue Mound State Park

We know it – not everyone wants to sleep IN the park, either on their boat or in a camper/RV/tent.

Wisconsin River Retreat

Located just alongside a beautiful one and a half acres of the river, the Wisconsin River Retreat is the perfect place to visit if you’re visiting Blue Mound with your family. The view is scenic and you can enjoy relaxing activities like having dinner under the stars and setting up a bonfire.

The nightly rates range between $465 – $620.

Cameo Rose Victorian Country Inn

An award-winning bed and breakfast located in Madison, the Cameo Rose Victorian Country Inn is another great choice for families and couples to enjoy a getaway close to nature. The inn is surrounded by gardens, waterfalls, moved trails, gazebos, flower beds, and ponds, making it the perfect place to enjoy some peace and quiet.

The pricing depends on your choice of room and can go anywhere between $169 – $269 a night.

Just look at that amazing view – this park is truly beautiful to experience!

Directions to Blue Mound State Park

Get to the village of the Blue Mounds and head north, close to 25 miles west of Madison along the US Highway 18/151. Keep going north on the highway and then take a left to County Highway ID. Keep going west until you reach Mounds Road, which is at about half a mile distance.

Take a right and get to the Mounds town. You’ll find the park at one mile north of the intersection of the Highway ID and Mounds Road.

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Complete Guide to High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park is one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks. Located in the scenic Kettle Moraine, on the northeast corner of Lake Winnebago in the town of Sherwood, it offers a wide variety of activities for visitors year-round. From camping to hiking and biking to weddings; this guide will tell you everything there is to know about High Cliff State Park!

Complete Guide to High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park is a well-known Wisconsin state park. Located in the scenic Kettle Moraine, High Cliff offers outdoor enthusiasts year-round activities. Camping, hiking, and biking are just some of the things to do at this beautiful destination! This guide will tell you everything there is to know about it!

Complete Guide to High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park is the only state-owned recreational area on Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest lake. Let’s start with the history – it is SO amazing!

History of High Cliff State Park

The rocks at High Cliff are primarily sandstone laid down by streams that once ran through this area millions of years ago. These sediments were compressed under great pressure into hard rock deposits which have been worn away from the softer shale beneath them by wind and rain erosion over centuries (more).

It is part of the Niagara Escarpment.

Niagara Escarpment

The Niagara Escarpment is a long, continuous escarpment that extends from the eastern shore of Lake Ontario in Canada to the Alabama River in Iowa. It was formed when a retreating ice sheet left an unglaciated strip on top that gradually sloped toward the northeast and this trend is marked by high cliffs or bluffs overlooking much lower areas below them (more).

Sioux

Nomadic Siouan Indians were there, some 1,000 to 1,500 years ago.

The Sioux were nomadic tribes who hunted bison along what would become High Cliff State Park. They lived off hunting buffalo for food, housing materials, clothes and many other necessities including shoes made out of animal hide with Buffalo hides also being used as blankets during cold winters.

They left 30 effigy mounds behind to tell part of their story, 9 of which remain today. (More on those later)

Limestone Mining at High Cliff

The park’s limestone mine was a testament to the area’s industrial heritage. It was a successful 40-man strong lime mining operation from 1855 to 1956. Quarrying of the stone was done in large pits still visible around the park.

Workers drilled holes into the rock and used dynamite to blast the limestone from the sedimentary layers of rock. For safety reasons, this occurred on a strict schedule, with blasts happening at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. each day. The limestone was then loaded onto a horse and buggy system to hit the on-site kilns. The lime from this operation was sent throughout the Midwest and was used for a variety of things, from plaster and cement to brick mortar, and even to simply reduced acidity in the soil of farmlands.

Limestone Mining at High Cliff

As many as 40 people worked at the operation, including drillers, a blasting specialist, stone crushers, teamsters, barrel makers, laborers, and a blacksmith. Many were recent immigrants from Hungary. In its heyday, the lime industry supported a small “company town” consisting of 16 houses for workers, a store (including a post office, telegraph office, and company office), and a tavern, all owned by the Western Lime and Cement Company. All that remains today are the store and ruins of the kiln.

High Cliff State Park Red Bird Statue

Once known as one of the friendliest and most trusted of the Wisconsin Indians, Red Bird (1788–1828) was a leader of the Winnebago (or Ho-Chunk) Native American tribe. He was a leader in the Winnebago War against the United States.

We won’t go into details here – but their war was based on the tensions of the time, a misunderstanding that led them to believe that two Ho-Chunk had been put to death at Fort Snelling in 1826 for a murder they did not commit, and then retaliation that continued to escalate.

The Winnebago War was a large-scale conflict between the United States and the Ho-Chunk Nation in what is now Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.

High Cliff State Park Red Bird Statue

It lasted from 1827 to 1833 with sporadic fighting continuing until 1840 when Red Bird finally surrendered.

A few years after his death, a statue was erected to honor him at High Cliff State Park. The original monument made this area of the park an important site in Wisconsin’s Native American history and culture. It is by an overlook on the Red Bird Trail and worth a stop.

This is a GREAT lesson for the kids – while I haven’t found any books on Red Bird specifically, Tecumseh is a great read before you visit – to open some dialogue with your kids.

Is High Cliff State Park Haunted?

There have been many reports of paranormal activity…three main sources.

Native Americans

First of all – there is always “energy” around effigy mounds and there is no exception to the ones at High Cliff State Park, even if there are no human remains detected in them.

The most well documented of all “hauntings” at this park, hands down are the effigy mounds. There are many reports of “warm wind” or “cold wind” in the area – on days with no wind, as well as a special kind of green moss that ONLY grows on the effigy mounds.

The Hungarian Stone Masons

Then there is the old kiln haunting. In an era where quarrying operations were largely unregulated, accidents in lime quarries proved tragic for workers and their families. On December 22nd, 1903 a rock fell from the ceiling of one section and killed seven people at once, including two teamsters hauling limestone up out of the pit on a wagon with 16 barrels while four other men pushed it from behind.

After this tragedy, new regulations required proper supports beneath any area that could cause anyone to come into contact with falling rocks or rubble. The old kiln is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the Hungarian stonemasons who labored there.

Lake Winnebago Water Monster

The legend has its roots in the formerly nearby Winnebago Tribe, which had a village on the shores of the lake. The Winnebago monster is described as being a long, serpentine creature with two fins or horns and an armored back. In 1959 the “monster” was filmed by a man named Claude Thompson on his home movie camera while fishing in Lake Winnebago.

The video footage has been studied extensively by skeptics who say that what appears to be two bumps near its head are actually reflections of trees seen through murky water from below. They also point out that this creature could not remain unseen given its large size, which would have become noticeable because fish refuse to swim near it.

In 1962, cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans published an article about it in Fate magazine where he coined the term “plesiosaur“.

One of the skeptics, Ron Schaffner, argued that the creature is merely a floating log or other debris in low visibility water and was not moving at all–as seen by changes in size when Thompson zooms his camera out to get a wider shot.

Supposedly, the water monster washed to shore at one point and an entire deer, antlers and all, was found in its belly. The lake is allegedly still the home of the water monster’s children, equally large fish that just might swallow a person one of these days.

Keep in mind that the Winnebago monster remains unidentified and unverified…and I totally surprised my husband with this one -who grew up in the area and never heard of it!

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High Cliff State Park Effigy Mounds

An effigy mound is an animal shaped structure built entirely or partly from clay with one side deliberately left flat so it can be seen easily on aerial photographs.

Effigy Mounds In General

These were constructed by prehistoric Mississippian Indians for ritual purposes between 900 AD and 1400 AD, but some may date back to about 500 BC. Fewer than 20 sites remain today because farmers plowed up many of them during settlement in the 1800s and early 1900s.

The identity of the animal is not always certain, and may have been different in Mississippian times than during earlier periods. The most common shapes are bears (perhaps symbolizing strength), panthers or other wild cats (possibly representing speed). Birds were also represented including owls, herons, hawks and cranes; these could represent ferocity or power respectively.

Sometimes a human was included on top of an effigy mound – this would usually be someone who wanted to honor their ancestors by being buried high rather than at ground level as usual for that culture’s burial rituals- although sometimes it represents a spirit guardian figure known as ‘the Master of Breath’. Effigies were built mainly between 900 AD to 1550 AD and are found in the Eastern US, but also as far north as Michigan.

The mounds were usually built up over a log or scaffold base which was then filled with dirt to create an elevation of about 15 feet.

The earth circling the mound represented water flowing around it and helped reinforce its symbolic meaning by suggesting that life came from within the earth, like springs bubbling forth (the opposite side of this belief is seen in some Puebloan cultures where effigies represent mountains).

The High Cliff Mounds

The High Cliff State Park effigy mounds were left by nomadic Siouan Indians . The mounds are arranged in a sequence of overlapping circles that get smaller and closer together the higher they go.

The park was established to protect these ancient Native American earthworks, as well as rare prairie plants such as showy goldenrod.

Historians believe that the shape of the mound is indicative of status–animals shapes mean the person had a higher status than those in geometric shapes, and the buffalo shape was the highest of all, generally reserved for family of the chief. While none of the effigy mounds at High Cliff have been found to have human remains or artifacts in them, they are still sacred to the Native Americans whom created them, and should be treated as such.

These dates have been determined by carbon dating charcoal remnants from the fires of the effigy mound builders, so we know the ones at this park are from somewhere between 1000 A.D. and 1500 A.D.

Out of the original 30 effigy mounds in High Cliff, only nine remain. These can be found on the Indian Mound Trail in the upper section of the park. This trail has signs posted along it describing the animal life, vegetation, speculation on the ways of life of the former inhabitants of the High Cliff area, and the mounds themselves.

The 9 that remain are four panther mounds, two conical mounds, one lineal mound, and, along a smaller path, two buffalo mounds.

–>Please keep in mind that these are sacred spots and should be treated as such.

High Cliff State Park Camping

With two different campgrounds, High Cliff State Park should be able to accommodate you.

The family campground has 112 campsites (32 with electric and two handicap accessible – #26 and #86). A flush toilet/shower building is on-site and there are in the family also several vault toilets throughout the campground. Campground hosts stay on site 58 from April through October.

High Cliff State State Park Family Campground Map

Accessible cabin

An accessible cabin for people with disabilities is available at High Cliff State Park. The cabin can accommodate up to six people and can be rented for a maximum of four nights per year.

High Cliff State State Park group Campground Map

Group Sites

There are eight group sites, that only have vault toilets located near them.

High Cliff State Park Activities

There is so much to see and do at High Cliff year-round! Fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, swimming, boating and more!

High Cliff State Park Water Sports

Being right on Lake Winnebago, you have a lot of options here!

Big Cliff State Park Fishing

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.

Lake Winnebago is stocked with a variety of fish each year. You can catch Walleye, Northern Pike, White Bass, Perch and Lake Trout to name a few!

You can also fish at the Butterfly Pond! You will find it full of both largemouth bass and panfish.

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

high Cliff State Park Swimming

High Cliff does have a swim area, however, there are no lifeguards on duty. There is a fully functional bathhouse too – complete with flush toilets, showers, changing areas, and open shelters.

Wisconsin State Park Free Printable
Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

High Cliff State Park Kayaking

With 5 boat launches, 4 developed and one undeveloped, you are pretty much set for any kind of boat at High Cliff. Windsurfers, kite boarders, and paddlers will enjoy the area, but make sure to check out State Park’s website for a list of rules and regulations before you head out on the water.

If you have a larger boat, you can even bring it to the park! There are 100+ slips available to rent, or you can stay overnight aboard your boat while it is moored in the marina. Call the marina at 920-989-1349 (Memorial Day through Labor Day) to check on rental availability.

All slips have power and slip rentals include the use of the marina shower building. The marina is within walking distance to the beach, biking trails, golf course and restaurant.

High Cliff State Park Hiking

With 5 different trails, quite a variety of different skill levels and challenges are covered. They are all a variety of lengths and loop – making their well-marked paths easy to follow.

They are a perfect way to see the fall colors!

High Cliff State Park hiking trail

The hiking trails are as follows:

Butterfly Pond trail (0.4-mile east loop and 0.7-mile west loop)

This trail is paved for accessibility and features wetland, prairie and forest ecosystems.

Forest Management trail (0.9-mile short loop and 1.4-mile long loop)

Mostly wooded.

Indian Mound trail (0.6 miles)

This will take your by the park’s effigy mounds.

Lime-Kiln trail (0.9-mile short loop and 1.7-mile long loop)

This trail covers part of the Niagara Escarpment State Natural Area, and has some steep climbs, descents and stairs.

Red Bird trail (3.4 miles)

With amazing panoramic views, this pretty level trail will take you past the historical limestone quarries, the Chief Red Bird statue, and the observation tower.

High Cliff State Park Trail Map

High Cliff State Park Trail Map

High Cliff State Park Nature Center

High Cliff State Park Bike Trails

While you can use your bike on any of the paved roads, you are limited to the Red Bird Trail and Horse trail – which is 7.5 miles long and goes through both grassland and hardwood forest ecosystems. You can NOT bike on the other 4 trails.

There are NO bike rentals at the park (or horses either) so be prepared to pack your own.

Golfing in the Area

While High Cliff state park doesn’t have its own golf course, there are some excellent courses nearby.

High Cliff Golf and Event Center is an 18-Hole golf course near High Cliff State Park. A Driving Range is there and Golf instruction is available by appointment. W5095 Golf Course Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

Winagamie Golf Course is another favorite. A nice 27-hole course that keeps the playing groups separated nicely. Plenty of straight par fours and a challenging rough. Nice pro shop! : 3501 Winnegamie Dr, Neenah, WI 54956

High Cliff State Park Hunting

If you are a gun-hunter – this isn’t the park for you. There is a traditional 9-day muzzleloader-only gun deer hunt. There is no other gun hunting in the park. Other than that, archery hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame.

Trapping rules are tricky – you have to be at least 100 yards away from the designated use area, including trails. You simply can’t use certain trap types.

High Cliff State Park in Winter

If you want to see some wildlife – this is a great time of the year. Watch for deer and rabbits as they move from their winter grazing areas around High Cliff in search of food.

Snowshoeing at High Cliff State Park

If you want to try your hand, or foot, at snowshoeing – this is the place to do it. Snowshoe rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis when the park office is open… so you can see if you really like the hobby before investing in your own shoes.

Snowshoeing is permitted anywhere in High Cliff except on ski trails when snow-covered. The Forest Management trail is good for winter hiking and snowshoeing. That is the one that is mostly wooded and serene.

winter in peninsula state park

Cross Country Skiing at High Cliff State Park

First of all, Fido is not allowed on these trails! Pup pawprints can screw up a groomed ski trail. Certain trails in the park are designated for skiing when snow-covered. The trails are groomed for traditional skiing and are suitable for beginning to intermediate skiers.

Snowmobiling at High Cliff State Park

A 3-mile snowmobile trail through the park connects Lake Winnebago with the Calumet County snowmobile trail system.

They follow the surrounding county guidelines for when the trails are to be open or not – The Travel Wisconsin Snow Conditions Report, and local club and county snowmobile web pages and telephone hotlines will provide the most current information.

High Cliff 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.

There are a two special “pet picnic” areas where your pup can enjoy a meal with you. One is in the lower park, near the park office, with a dog swimming area in the pond. It is a little hard to find, but it is there, adjacent to the marina. The other is near the pavilion.

All trails are dog-friendly when on a leash, except for in winter with the ski-prepped trails.

There is also a great dog park near Appleton. Outagamie County Dog Park is an easy drive from the park and will make it convenient for you to exercise your dog so he will be easier to manage on your hikes.

ID tags are a good idea if your dog isn’t microchipped. If you do lose your pet you can contact the EastShore Humane Society at (920) 849-2390.

Pets are not allowed in the following places:

  • Buildings
  • Picnic areas and picnic shelters
  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • 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.

Get Your Wisconsin State Park Sticker Now

Day pass or annual pass, it gets you in any Wisconsin State Park. YES, there are discounts for Wisconsin residents.

Camping fees are always additional – but less than if you didn’t have the sticker.

Get it here –> Wisconsin State Park Pass Info

Restaurants Near High Cliff State Park

Here are a few of our favorites:

The Chubby Seagull

OK – part of me just loves the name, LOL. This is the go-to place for pizza or ice cream. Note: Employees don’t wear masks – so strict COVID precautions aren’t followed, if that makes you uncomfortable. N7663 Pigeon Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

The Granary Supper Club

We love supper clubs, to begin with, but with their cozy seating. pleasant decor, and large menu? It is worth a visit. N586 Military Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

Peters’ Boyz Texas BBQ

This place is worth the small drive: the brisket is awesome and the ribs are even better. N378 Military Rd, Sherwood, WI 54169

Grocery Store Near High Cliff State Park

While you are a short drive from Appleton – that has everything from Aldi to a Walmart Super Center, right in Sherwood, you will find a Dick’s Family Foods – W647 Knight Dr, Sherwood, WI 54169

Hotels Near High Cliff State Park

We know it – not everyone wants to sleep IN the park, either on their boat or in a camper/RV/tent.

Quality Inn & Suites

This might be your closest accommodations, if under $60, and has a hot breakfast. 761 Truman St, Kimberly, WI 54136

Appleton Hotels

There are literally dozens there – and prices range from $38 to over $220. It depends on what you are looking for, specifically.

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A Complete Guide to Kinnickinnic State Park

On the Minnesota edge of Wisconsin’s Western Region, Kinnickinnic State Park is a 1,242-acre park in which the Kinnickinnic River, locally known as Kinni River, joins the St. Croix River. The mouth of the Kinnickinnic River forms a sandy delta upon which boaters can picnic and camp.Kinnickinnic State Park is a large park that offers something for everyone. It has over 1,000 acres of land with trails to enjoy and forests to explore.

A Complete Guide to Kinnickinnic State Park

If you are using this guide as an introduction to the park, we recommend starting at the Park Office where you can find detailed maps of all of the different areas in Kinnickinnic State Park. You will also find helpful staff members who can answer any questions that you have!

A Complete Guide To Kinnickinnic State Park

Wisconsin has a rich park system that is perfect for any outdoor enthusiast looking to explore the great outdoors of America’s Dairyland. Kinnickinnic State Park offers something for everyone with its plentiful activities, breathtaking landscapes, and opportunities to connect with nature.

Since this is a day park – it is set up for that perfect picnicing experience! Tables and grills are available at a variety of locations throughout the park. The largest picnic area is at the St. Croix overlook. Another popular picnic area is near the swimming area.

History of Kinnickinnic State Park

The area of what is now Kinnickinnic State Park has been a favorite summer destination since roughly 1883. Being located close to the twin cities, it was the perfect place to get out of town and relax.

There is a funny story about this – in the early 20th century, when Wisconsin was looking over land for state parks, this area along the Kinni river was looked at. It just took quite a few years before they finally did something about it!

In a memorable effort to make the park a reality, three families donated parcels of their land to the state. Carl and Alice Pemble, Homer and Mildred Creswell and George and Wilma Richter donated a total of 45 acres to the Department of Natural Resources for the creation of a new state park. These gifts, combined with the overwhelming support of the remainder of the affected landowners, so impressed the Natural Resources Board that they established Kinnickinnic State Park in 1972.

Wisconsin DNR

Kinnickinnic Park was established in 1961 as a camping park. Today, it is still one of the most popular parks among campers for its easy accessibility and scenic beauty.

In 1976, the Kinni River’s mouth became part of Kinnickinnic State Park. The St. Croix River offers challenging kayaking or canoeing on some days while other days are perfect for beginner paddlers looking to enjoy nature at their own pace.

Volunteers have always been a huge part of the Kinnickinnic State Park history – they have restored about 50 acres of prairie, developed almost 7 miles of hiking trails, and then planted more than 20,000 trees!

That is a serious commitment to nature!

–> Check out our Crazy Camping Girl Etsy store – new items are added weekly!

Kinnickinnic State Park Camping

Here is the thing with this park – it is what they call a “day park” – which means that there are no campsites available. At. All.

It is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round, but not 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.

You simply can’t stay there overnight, unless you are on your boat and in the designated mooring area.

Have no worries- there is a ton of stuff to do during the day – and plenty of places close enough to rest your head at night.

There are plenty of options available at night so don’t worry about not being able to stay overnight here! One option would be camping down south by Stockholm where there is access for RVs/trailers as well as tent sites (or head back north up Highway 35E) and camp at one of the many primitive campsites on the Kinnickinnic River.

Kinnickinnic State Park Activities

Have no worries- Kinnickinnic has plenty of other activities to fill your time! Here’s just a few:

Hiking, biking, running (you can borrow bikes), canoeing and kayaking in the Kinnickinnic River, picnicking by the lake, or on any one of many scenic picnic areas inside the park.

As for wildlife viewing? Head up Highway 35E past Stockholm and you’ll also find access to hunting grounds where you might spot deer, turkeys, and Canada geese during the winter months.

Let’s get more into detail!

Kinnickinnic State Park Water Sports

Kinnickinnic State Park has a beach area located on the Kinnickinnic River. Bring your paddle board, kayak or canoe and hit the water!

Kinnickinnic State Park Park Fishing

If fishing is your thing then this is an amazing place for it! You’ll be able to hit the water from either bank of the Kinnickinnic River. This stretch also offers fly fishermen plenty of access points where they might catch brown trout, steelhead fish, and Chinook salmon too!

If you like German brown trout – the Kinnickinnic River is the perfecta trout stream for you!

If walleye is more your thing – the St. Croix river will let you wiggle your worm from either shore or your boat.

You can also go fishing off of the pier in warmer months for largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill and other fish species found locally.

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

Kinnickinnic State Park Swimming

There is a great sandy beach at the park, and the swimming area is marked with buoys. You won’t have a lifeguard to look over you, but the sandy beach and gorgeous view more than make up for it.

Wisconsin State Park Free Printable
Make sure you download our FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Printable!

We put together a Wisconsin State Parks Bucket List Free Printable for you – to keep track of all the state parks and nature areas you visit. Get it here: Crazy Camping Girl FREE Wisconsin State Parks Bucket ListDownload

Kinnickinnic State Park Kayaking

During the summer, you can rent kayaks at the Kinnickinnic State Park area and explore nearby lakes or head upstream to find some rapids.

It is a great place to bring your boat, kayak, or even canoe. Water skiing, sunbathing and windsurfing are very popular here.

Kinnickinnic State Park Kayak Rental

While this park doesn’t offer rentals, there are many places close by that can assist you:

Kinni Kayaks, River Guide Kayaks, and even Kinni Creek Lodge and Outfitters ae close, and all offer tours of some sort. It these crazy Covid-19 times, it is always advisable to do a quick Google search, and contact them directly to make sure their hours and offeirings are still the same as many websites are never updated.

Hiking at Kinnickinnic State Park

All of those volunteers had been busy as Kinnickinnic State Park offers about 9.2 miles of hiking trails winding through hills, woods and prairies. Off-road bicycling is allowed on the Red Trail only…so you can enjoy the other trails without worrying about getting run over.

The 8 trails are named by color: Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and Brown. They range from half a mile long to almost 3 miles and all offer slightly different scenery.

Keep in mind that there are rattlesnakes at Kinnickinnic State Park – should you encounter one on the trail, use your head and follow precautions.

This is a quick overview of the trails

– The Pink Trail is a mile and a half long and is accessible from a number of parking areas near the park office. This relatively open and flat trail leads along the forest edge around a few small prairie areas.

– The Red Trail offers almost three miles of hiking in either direction. The trail is relatively easy and winds through prairies, pine plantations and open hardwood forests. It follows the contours of the Kinnickinnic bluff and provides scenic views of the Kinnickinnic River valley.

Hidden Falls is actually a hidden waterfall and you can only see a small glimpse of it at the bottom of the ravine.

– The Orange Trail is only a half mile long, but will give hikers a challenge as they go along a wooded trail that follows the steep bluff edge atop of the Kinnickinnic River valley. This trail has some hills and more difficult terrain so make sure you have the proper footwear before heading out on this adventure!

– The Yellow Trail is just over a mile in length. This trail is accessible from the Kinni Overlook lot and is a loop along the forest and prairie edge. This trail is relatively flat and is a great spot to see wildlife such as deer, pheasants and turkeys.

– The Green Trail is a favorite for kids with its one mile loop that takes them around the perimeter of a large prairie area and is accessible from the Yellow trail. These native grasslands are being restored and are home to many birds and other animals. Even timber rattlesnakes are occasionally seen on this trail.

– The Blue Trail is an easy hike of less than a mile which leads hikers on a wooded trail that connects the east half of the park with the west half. There are some steep hills on this trail as it dips in and out of the gorges and coulees that run into the Kinnickinnic River valley.

– The Purple Trail with a one-mile loop, this wooded, rolling trail bisects the picnic area and leads southwest along the bluff atop the Kinnickinnic River Delta, intersecting with the Orange and Yellow trails.

– The Brown Trail is the shortest at about a tenth of a mile and leads to a small overlook.

Most trails allow dogs too – if your furry friend wants some exercise along side you then bring them along! Just remember that all pets must be leashed while visiting the park grounds.

Kinnickinnic State Park Trail Map

You can access it here and print off a copy for yourself:

Kinnickinnic State Park Trail Map

Golfing in the area

While there is no golf course IN the park, Clifton Hollow Golf Club is close, in River Falls. Awesome golf course with a fun layout of holes, and great pricing.

Kinnickinnic State Park Hunting

Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame.

You need to follow general safety precautions like wear the trusty blaze orange gear and know where you can and can not point that rifle.

Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails.

Kinnickinnic State Park in Winter

During winter, the Red, Blue, Brown, Pink and Black trails are packed and open as multi-use trails. Hiking, snowshoeing, skate or classic skiing, skijoring and pets are allowed on these trails. Fat tire bicycles are allowed on the Red Trail only.

winter in peninsula state park

Classic-only cross-country skiing is allowed on the Yellow, Green, Purple and Orange trails. Winter use and directional designations apply to these classic ski trails once the trails are snowcovered and groomed. NO hiking, snowshoeing, skate skiing, skijoring or pets are allowed on these trails.

Kinnickinnic 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.

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 St. Croix Animal Friends at (715) 749-3763.

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 white-tailed deer, raccoons, American minks, red- and gray fox, Eurasian red squirrel, rabbit, weasel and North American beavers have all been spotted at Kinnickinnic.

Hotels Near Kinnickinnic State Park

If you want more time in the area, make sure you book an overnight room at one of the area hotels.

Best Western Plus Campus Inn

This 3-star hotel has rooms that are larger than you might think, and an awesome “Continental” breakfast. Not your typical muffins, fruit and cereal – they have things like ham omelets, Cinnamon French toast and biscuits and gravy with eggs. 100 Spring St, River Falls, WI 54022•(715) 425-1045

Country Inn River Falls

Off Highway 65, this relaxed, country-style hotel is a 3-minute drive from River Falls, and 2.4 miles from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. 1525 Commerce Ct, River Falls, WI 54022•(715) 425-9500

Historic Afton House Inn

Country-chic rooms, some with river views, in a warm inn offering fine dining & a cozy wine bar. 3291 St Croix Trail S, Afton, MN 55001•(651) 436-8883

Check out other Wisconsin State Park Guides

Like what you learned about this Wisconsin State Park? Make sure you check out our other Wisconsin State Park Guides Here.

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