Last July my family and I went tent camping for five nights. We stayed in the same state park all five nights (Copper Falls State Park), but during the day we drove to other parks and cities in the area. I will cover each day on a separate travel post over the next five weeks. Today's post is the first post of this series: Days 1 & 2: Copper Falls State Park
Copper Falls State Park is located near Mellen, Wisconsin in Ashland County. It's at the top of our state, where things start getting a little "rustic". It is a three and a half hour drive from our home in central Wisconsin. We left about 11:00 a.m. so that we would arrive around 3:00 because that was the earliest we could check in.
It was Monday, July 4th the day we arrived. The first thing we did was set up camp and make dinner. Ashley and Jason ( my daughter and son-in-law) had their own cute little pup tent, and Jordan, Todd, and I shared a five person tent (My son and husband).
After dinner we headed to Mellen to see the fireworks. We weren't sure what kind of fireworks a tiny little town in the middle of no where would have, but it was the 4th of July so we wanted to see fireworks no matter how small.
Once we found where the fireworks were located, we had plenty of time to kill before dusk so we took a walk and found this creepy old school built in 1910. It's cool, but it kind of reminded us of the old school in "Matilda".
Well creepy or not, they had amazing grounds and playground equipment, so of course the "Kids" had to play!
We then went back to watch the fireworks, but unfortunately not for long. The mosquitoes were so bad that even with spray, blankets, and heavy clothes they were eating us alive. It was unbearable. It was probably the worst experience in my life I ever had with mosquitoes. Wisconsin has just gotten so much rain this year that the mosquito population is the worse it's ever been. Ashley, Jason, and I gave up and went and sat in the car to try and watch the fireworks, but we couldn't see much. We did however see the thick swarm of mosquitoes around our car: it looked like a scene from a horror movie. Todd and Jordan stuck it out, but the next day we looked at Jordan's ankles and there had to be 100 bites on each leg. They were beet red and practically striped of flesh. It was so awful. Ashley said it was the worst 4th of July ever, and I couldn't agree more. Bugs! They ruin summer don't they?
But, what we could see of the fireworks was very nice. I was actually impressed that such a small town did such an impressive fireworks display.
Mosquitoes were a problem all week long. We had a spray to use on the perimeter of our campsite, it helped a little, but not much. Even the smoke from the fire pit didn't help. They were just ruthless. We had to constantly spray ourselves with "Deep Woods Off". That was the only thing that worked, but every inch of our bodies had to be covered with that stuff, and it had to be resprayed often. It kept them from biting, but they would still swarm around us constantly.
The next morning, we had bacon and eggs around the campfire and went on our first hike. Since we just spent over three hours in the car yesterday getting to our campsite, we decided to just hike in our own park.
The first trail we took was a lovely walk through the woods and along a creek leading to pretty waterfalls. We got off the trail a number of times to climb rocks on the river's edge and take pictures.
It was so serene and peaceful to listen to the babbling water as we walked.
The name of this trail is Red Granite Falls. It is a 2.5 mile trail with lovely views of the woods, the "Bad River" (my husband couldn't stop making fun of that name!), and the falls.
It is a very gentle fall, which was perfect for rock jumping and exploring.
And I'm sure you can tell by the pictures where the falls get their name from.
My son grew up in the country with a river and waterfall in his backyard, so he was totally in his element here.
And if your wondering where Copper Falls gets it's name, take a wild guess:
My husband and son were the more adventurous two in our party so they often went skipping and jumping rocks miles ahead of us. Ashley, Jason and I often stayed behind and just enjoyed the scenery. Here we are resting on a large rock.
The trails at Copper Falls are very nice, well maintained, and easy to follow. I loved all the little bridges, stairs, and benches they put in to make hiking the trail more enjoyable.
Because you know, when climbing a steep set of stairs, it's nice to have a bench to rest on about half way up.
After our morning hike of Red Granite Falls, we went back to our campsite to have lunch and take a nap. After all, we were on vacation. A nice snooze in our tent in the middle of the day...what more could we ask for?
Once we were all refreshed, we headed out on our next hike: Doughboy's Nature Trail. This is the hike and the falls that the park is famous for.
This is 1.7 mile trail that follows the Bad River and Tyler Forks. It snakes around the scenic heart of the park: Copper and Brownstone Falls and the cascades.
This trail is very tourist friendly. Because these falls have high elevations, fences surround the trail and you can only look down or at the falls. Here is a lookout point for one of the main, larger falls.
Here is that same look out (it's on the left) as you just start to descend the staircase.
This is the tower, and I'll save you the trouble and tell you to not even bother exerting yourself to go on the trail or tower. The tower is too short and all you see when you get up there is tree foliage. Maybe it might be better in the spring or winter before the leaves fill out, but in the summer, there is no view at all.
But the scenic overlooks of all the falls on this trail are breath-taking!
When we were walking on the trail and just about to cross this bridge, we saw a lot of people underneath the bridge looking into the water and so we decided to go and investigate what was going on. It turned out it was a great place to catch crayfish, so we took off our shoes, and spent some time catching crayfish ourselves.
I've never seen crayfish before so this was quite fun and interesting to me. They look just like little lobsters!
After our crayfish detour, we were back on the trail again. It forms a big circle, so when you cross over the bridge you end up on the other side of the river with more scenic waterfall views; only this time you get to see it from the other side!
After we were done hiking, we were spent for the day and just went back to our campsite to make dinner and relax by the fire for the rest of the night.
I suppose I should say a little bit about the campgrounds in case someone is interested in camping here. They have two camping grounds: they both have bathrooms, but only one campground has a shower. We stayed in the south campground where the showers were. I thought it was a very nice campground, with good facilities, but our campsite could have been a bit larger. The park has a little restaurant/store if you want to buy a snack or forgot something at home. They also offer a pancake breakfast twice a week. We never made it to the beach, so I can't tell you how that was. We planned on it, but we ended up taking a nap in our tents instead. I liked that the park is located so close to a town because if you need anything or maybe just want to go out to dinner instead of cook over a campfire, it's only minutes away from civilization.
Have a Great Day! Amy
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