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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Copper Falls State Park, Mellen, WI

View of Copper Falls from Doughboys Trail

October 2, 2015

M and I decided to camp in northern WI for our one year wedding anniversary in hopes of catching peak fall color. Our first stop was Copper Falls State Park in Mellen, WI. We arrived early afternoon and settled on hiking the 1.7 mile Doughboys trail around the waterfalls. To get to the trail, we had to hike past the concession stand which was a nice addition to the park but even nicer because it was still open! Though Copper Falls was bustling with visitors due to the warm autumn Friday, most visitors were getting food at the stand which thinned out the crowds along the trails. We had braced ourselves for large groups since this loop was the most popular section of the park.

Doughboys Trail was well maintained, wide, and had stone and wooden steps to navigate around the river and waterfalls. The trail looped along the cliff edges of the Bad River and had two bridge crossings that took you on either side of the river as well as on either side of the two waterfalls, Brownstone and Copper Falls. Going around clockwise on the trail, we first stopped at the observation tower which was accessed by going up a series of stairs. Once we reached the top of all the stairs, we still had to climb the tower. Though the tower was tall, it didn't provide expansive views of the surrounding area as most of the trees were the same height as the tower. After the quick excursion to the tower, we continued on the trail and stopped to view Copper Falls.

The trail then snaked along the top of the gorge providing views down to both Brownstone and Copper Falls, showing where they coalesced into the Bad River. The trail then changed course going down granite steps to the 2nd bridge which crossed over the river, then climbed up the other side of the gorge. Doughboys Trail was now also a part of the North Country Trail. After a few more stairs along undulating hills, a boardwalk led us to the raging Brownstone Falls. It was here on the boardwalk that we finally ran into some people, passing by a family with toddlers and two photographers. We then crossed another bridge to a large viewing platform and then to the end of the loop. Copper Falls was a wonderful park with beautiful waterfalls. We loved that it had the North Country Trail running through it and that it provided great trails that were family friendly. The 1.7 mile hike took us about an hour and was a delightful stop before we started our camping weekend in Chequamegon National Forest.

We hiked clockwise on Doughboys Trail which is highlighted in orange. Map courtesy of WDNR


The start of the hike on Doughboys Trail. This paved section passes by the concession stand.

The first bridge takes you over the Bad River.

The Bad River at Copper Falls State Park

The trail splits and to the left leads you to the observation tower.

Climb up all these stairs before reaching the base of the tower

The wide trail at the top of the stairs

More stairs to climb to get to the top of the tower

Looking north from the top of the tower



Back on Doughboys Trail, fenced off so you don't fall off the cliff

View of Copper Falls from the trail

View of Brownstone Falls at Copper Falls State Park

Doughboys Trail on top of the cliff

One of the shelters along the trail

Granite steps take you to the bottom and to the 2nd bridge

Bridge crossing over the Bad River

Bad River at Copper Falls State Park

Bad River at Copper Falls State Park

After the Bad River, more stairs take you up the cliffside

Doughboys Trail and also the North Country Trail

Well  maintained trail at Copper Falls State Park

Great trail condition, wide and clean

North Country Trail portion on the Doughboys loop and to the right is the boardwalk

Going down the well maintained boardwalk

Views from the boardwalk of Tyler Forks as it descends into Brownstone Falls

Series of cascaded on Tyler Forks before it turns into Brownstone Falls

Still the North Country Trail and a bridge crossing over Tyler Forks to get back to other side of the cliff
North Country Trail/Doughboys Trail

Viewing platform showing where Brownstone Falls meets Copper Falls to join up with the Bad River

This portion of the North Country/Doughboys Trail leads back to the concession stand and parking lot.