Some of the most spectacular waterfalls in Wisconsin are located in Ashland County.
Copper Falls State Park
Copper Falls State Park features three scenic waterfalls on the Tyler Forks and Bad rivers. The park’s natural attractions also include canyons, deep gorges, streams, and a swimming beach. Visitors will enjoy the picnic area with a log shelter, miles of self-guided nature trails, and family campground. In addition, walk-in and backpack campsites are available.
Log buildings built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s add to the park’s charm. There is plenty to do, including hiking, bicycling, picnicking, fishing and swimming. In the winter, skiing and snowshoeing are popular activities on the trails. The park has four classic-only loops, beginner-intermediate, totaling 11.4 km. Copper Falls also boasts two skate/classic combination loops totaling 10.5 km. All of the park’s trails are generally well-groomed and maintained. The North Country National Scenic Trail also passes through Copper Falls State Park.
Located about 2 miles northeast of the city of Mellen, Copper Falls itself is a 40-foot waterfall which marks the first drop of the Bad River as it flows through steep-walled gorges of rugged and awesome splendor. A 500-acre area around the falls has been designated as a State Natural Area. The park also encompasses RedGraniteFalls on the BadRiver and the 30-foot BrownstoneFalls cascading down the TylerForksRiver.
Copper Falls State Park’s concession stand is open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, and on weekends through mid-October. The concession stand offers a small gift shop along with soft drinks, light lunches, ice cream, and ice. Sunday mornings are especially popular at the concession as a pancake breakfast is held.
Winter, spring, summer and fall – Ashland County is a year-round vacation destination for nature enthusiasts and silent sports fans. No matter the season, Ashland County cordially welcomes visitors to enjoy and explore this shining jewel crowning the greatest of the Great Lakes.
This area represents a large block of unfragmented forest, which includes exposed cliffs, streams, a 70 foot waterfall and a breathtaking overlook at the top of St. Peter’s Dome (known locally as Old Baldy) which has an excellent view of Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.
This large site (approx. 5000 acres) of uninterrupted forest is rich in geological and botanical diversity. The site contains several plant communities including northern hardwood, hardwood swamp, sedge meadow and wet- and dry-mesic conifer forests.
St. Peters Dome/Morgan Falls is an excellent site for viewing ferns including the rare Braun’s hollyfern (Polystichum braunii) and fragrant woodfern (Dryopteris fragrans), and the beautiful northern maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum). There are also large patches of hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and Canada yew (Taxus canadensis) regeneration, an uncommon occurrence elsewhere. This area is wonderful for viewing of spring wildflowers including large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), violets and Dutchman’s-breeches (Dicentra cucullaria). Other common plants include trout lily (Erythronium americanum), blue-bead lily (Clintonia borealis) and baneberry (Actaea sp.)
Viewing Information: The trail to Morgan Falls (1.2 miles round trip) was reconstructed in 2002 to make it accessible for people with disabilities. The trail is graveled and the slopes are fairly flat. Morgan Falls is a serene oasis, an almost mystical place. The vegetation is very fragile, some plants rare. Care should be taken to stay on the trail and off the cliffs, rocks, and vegetation in and on the way to the falls.
The trail to St. Peter’s Dome (3.6 miles round trip) is fairly rugged with quite a bit of exposed rocks in the trail and steep climb. Signs of past human enterprises can be seen along the way: the old CCC Camp at the trail’s onset and remnants of an old stone quarry further up the trail. The trek to the dome’s crest is well worth the effort. The panoramic view of the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior, and the Apostle Islands, is an unforgettable experience.
Click here for a brochure on waterfalls within 60 miles of Ashland.