Copper Falls State Park is about a four and a half hour drive north of our location here at Devil’s Lake State Park. Not quite the “backyard”, but certainly worth the trip. Located in the little village of Mellen, Wisconsin (Population 750), Copper Falls was designated as a state park in 1929. In addition to the famous waterfalls, Copper Falls State Park offers camping, a variety of well maintained hiking trails and a swimming beach on a small lake.
Copper Falls State Park is located on the Bad River and is known primarily for its waterfalls. Within the park, the river twists and dives through deep gorges weathered through exposed ancient lava flows. There are two main falls; Copper Falls & Brownstone Falls. Both falls drop about 30ft into the gorge below and both are visible from the Doughboys nature trail just off the main parking lot. It’s a matter of taste which “big” waterfall is the more impressive, but most photos you see are taken of the Brownstone Falls. The 1.7 mile Doughboys trail loop will take you through deep pine forest up and down a lot of potentially slippery stairways, but will offer great views of the gorge from various overlooks and 2 bridges. At one point the trail takes you down into the river gorge at a point called, “Devil’s Gate” where 20-30 foot tall conglomerate walls have been cut by the river. Many hikers go off trail here to hike from the bridge up to get a good look at the gate area. The complete circuit will take you somewhere around 2 hours depending on how much you linger to watch the water or listen to the roar of the falls.
Another trail worth exploring is the 2.5-mile Red Granite Falls trail is in the southern part of the park. Just find the beach on Loon Lake to find the head of the trail. I’ve been to Copper Falls State Park a few times and had never explored Red Granite falls, I’m glad we did this time. Though not very tall waterfalls, the Red Granite falls are powerful and picturesque. You’ll be glad you checked them out. (Just bring your bug spray!)
When it comes to accessibility about a half-mile of the Doughboy trail, from the observation decks above Brownstone Falls to the wooden footbridge overlooking Copper Falls are accessible for wheelchairs. There is a small, separate parking area that is designated specifically for disabled access only.
We camped for one night at Copper Falls on our way to destinations further north. There are just 24 electrical sites (If you need to charge your phone!) and showers are available as well. As with the rest of Copper Falls, we found the campgrounds to be clean and well maintained. Of course, we were also welcomed to our campsite by an extraordinarily friendly deer which certainly put us in the right mood! It has to be said, that there were a lot of wet areas in the campground and under the right conditions the mosquitos could get insane. On our mid-July visit, they weren’t a problem.
Overall, we were very impressed with Copper Falls State Park. The trails were some of the best maintained State Park trails we’ve seen. Seeing how they managed to keep beautiful wood railings maintained along the high cliffs at Copper Falls, I couldn’t help but wonder how here at Devil’s Lake State Park, we can’t manage to do the same thing at Pewit’s Nest?
If you check out TripAdvisor, Copper Falls State Park gets excellent reviews. Having spent a bit more time to explore the park ourselves, we totally agree. Great park!