My husband and I enjoyed the most wonderful weekend! It was a balmy 82 degrees in Northwestern Wisconsin on Sunday: we almost broke a record! But don't worry, things are back to normal already as it was only in the 50's today. When you live in a state like Wisconsin, you have to take advantage of nice weather when you have it, because it doesn't come around too often.
Merrick State Park is located only thirty minutes from the house we've lived in for over fifteen years, and would you believe we've never been there before? Yup, it's true! I don't know why. We've certainly driven past it enough. We've always wondered what it was like, but we were always headed somewhere else when we passed it. But now we had a beautiful day and the time was right to finally explore it. So off we went!
If I could only use one phrase to describe Merrick State Park I would say "A Boater's Paradise". The park is located on the Mississippi River and is surrounded by the hills of the Coulee region. It is a 322 acre park that is popular with boaters and anglers. Even though there a few hiking trails, most people come there to boat and fish. There are also a lot of beautiful campsites for both tent and RV's with gorgeous river views.
They have canoes that are available to rent at the park, but my husband and I were there to do some hiking and check out all the beautiful fall foliage. We chose to hike a shorter trail near the south campground that made a circle around the water's edge. In the collage above, my husband is standing near the water taking a picture. There were two scenic lookouts on this trail. They both take you down a staircase (top right picture) to the base of the river.
The trails were well-maintained, well-marked, and very easy to hike because this is not a park with hills! It is a river park, very marshy, and home to lots of birds, fish, animals, and plants. Although it is surrounded by scenic bluffs, the entire park is at the base of the bluffs, so your looking up at views instead of down. In other words….no climbing in this park, and more like nice, easy strolling. The perfect hiking park if you have kids or physical limitations.
The leaves are almost at peak optimal viewing in Wisconsin. Next week it will be at peak, and we have plans to visit another State Park two hours from our home to enjoy the last of the fall foliage.
This is the second lookout. This staircase did not descend as far down as the first one, but it had more open views of the river and the bluffs.
There was always plenty of seating to enjoy the breath-taking views as evident by the picture in the collage above where my husband is seated in a swing.
The picture below is of a lovely stone bridge crossing one of the many waterways.
This is one of the campground roads.
There are three campgrounds in this park. The south campground offered beautiful campsites right against the river banks. You could sit by the campfire and watch the sun rise and set every night, and sleep with the sounds of the water. BUT, there were not showers available at this campground (you would have to drive to the North Campground to take a shower), nor modern plumbing (just outhouses).
The island campground is only accessible by foot, and offered what we thought were the best campsites in the park because of the views and location to the water. However, again there wasn't any modern plumbing conveniences available at this campground.
The north campground offered all the lovely conveniences of home: showers, flushing toilets, and sinks with mirrors and electrical outlets. And although it was a very nice campground, there were no scenic views of the river unless you walked a few feet.
We saw so many boaters enjoying the river on this beautiful fall day. Everyone seemed so happy. This group of boaters even waved to us as we were taking their picture.
The next morning when I got on-line it seemed everyone across the United States was in such a good mood because they all got outside and enjoyed the fall weather. I couldn't believe how many people were out and about on Sunday! It was crowded wherever we went. And that is really shocking when you take in the fact that a big Green Bay Packer game was on and no one was watching it! Maybe they all set their DVR's and watched it later in the evening when the sun went down, who knows? I was just happy to see everyone so happy. I love how beautiful weather just brings out the best in people, don't you?
Have a great day! Amy
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