Copper Falls State Park – Part One

8 hours, 400 miles, and 2 waterfall detours later I finally reached my first home-away-from-home at Copper Falls State Park.  Located in Mellen, Wisconsin, this park is especially intriguing for it’s remote location and multiple large waterfalls which some can argue are the best in the state.  After setting up camp at the hike-in site #50 there was only time for one tasty beverage & a quick fire before sleep.  Adventure would begin early on the morning of the 2nd…

CCC Trail

After a quick breakfast I started the day on the Doughboy Trail.  Named for the WWI veterans who built it, my route today would connect to a tall observation tower, a primitive CCC trail, then back to the main loop.  First was a short bridge passing over the Bad River.

A short connector trail leads to a huge staircase, and a short hike further you reach the tower.  The trees here are huge and block out the views today, though I’d imagine in winter/spring you could see everything for many miles.

The CCC section looks to be minimally maintained and much more wild.  Lots of mosquitoes here and tons of happy frogs.

At the end you reach a split in the trail connecting back to the Doughboy trail.  Views over the Bad River here are amazing.

Doughboys Trail (modified part 1)

Back on the Doughboys Trail south of the Bad River, the trail climbs back up the cliffs via large stone staircases.  Imagine being a CCC volunteer in the 1930’s depression era and moving all these stones & materials manually – quite impressive.  Trails wind through quiet woods with gigantic old growth pines.

Views from atop the cliffs are breathtaking and the high elevations are a welcome sight compared to flatter sections of our state.

This loop is definitely the most popular for great views of the large waterfalls.  First on my route is Brownstone Falls.  Recent rains have this flowing quite nicely even for July.  I had the trail to myself and spent plenty of time just taking in the scenery here.

A short distance later you get a glimpse of Copper Falls.  Somewhat difficult to photograph from this angle but still impressive in size – falls are listed at around a 30-foot drop but the tall cliffs make it seem much larger.

Red Granite Falls Trail

Red Granite Falls is less popular due to the distance (2.5 mile loop) but I still highly recommend seeing it should you have time and physical ability.  Temperatures were rising around midday but the micro-climate here is thankfully lower due to the brilliant green tree cover.  Trail is mostly crushed granite making for easy going.

The far western trail section borders the Bad River.  Huge rapids & lesser falls exist below the main drop and could rival them in size.  Reaching the rocks bordering these areas are dangerous and difficult to photograph, and as a solo hiker my better judgement won the day for the most part.

Falls are still remarkable.  Pictures don’t do them justice, and standing riverside you can feel in your chest just how much water is moving below you.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post for videos – coming soon!

Hiking Data

Starting from the Doughboys Trail I did a modified clockwise loop connecting the CCC trail back to Doughboys on the west side of the Bad River.  CCC trail is very minimally maintained and could be considered strenuous for some.  Connecting back to the Doughboys around the midpoint there are large sets of stairs that will workout your legs.  Overall fairly moderate for my standards.  Tons of skeeters.

Red Granite Falls trail was done counter-clockwise and climbs very steadily.  Trail is well maintained crushed granite path that most people should be able to do if you take your time.  After reaching the falls you can see from the graph I didn’t stop to smell the roses – a very nice hike indeed but most of the wooded section has no remarkable features different than other areas.

Lat = 46.3723145 , Long = -90.6423569 -- Show at Google Maps

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