Scenic USA - Wisconsin

Bad River Gorge

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Bad River Gorge - Copper Falls State Park, Mellen, Wisconsin

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Ben's Panoramio Gallery

     Shifts in the earth's crust along weakened fault lines often result in huge, gaping fractures. Brownstone Falls Here in northwestern Wisconsin the Bad River follows along an old fault line, further cutting a spectacular gorge and creating three impressive waterfalls. Steep sides of the canyon have visitors craning their necks to get a better view from various overlooks along the Doughboys Trail. Veteran Doughboys, returning from World War I, were the first to blaze trails and build bridges in Copper Falls State Park, further enhanced by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 30s. The mile and a half Doughboy Trail starts near the concession building and follows the rim of the Bad River Gorge, offering views of the gorge and the park's thunderous waterfalls.
     Names come easy for these waterfalls. Tannin stained waters of the Bad River, looking like iced-tea, flow over the first 30 foot drop at Copper Falls. Red lava and layers of red Doughboy Trail clay and sandstone on both sides of the gorge, which date back millions of years, lend to the names of Red Granite Falls and Brownstone Falls. For those visitors with more time and energy, a two and a half mile trail, beginning at the Loon Lake trailhead, leads to Red Granite Falls.
     Designated as a State Natural Area, the park is covered in a thick forest of hemlock, sugar maple, white pine, yellow birch, red oak and ironwood. What is most noticeable are the rim trails lined with white cedar trees. Those who are the lucky to arrive first may encounter some of the park's wildlife. Deer, raccoons, chipmunks, skunks, red squirrels and black bears are commonly seen in the park. Birds are also common forest dwellers, and those quiet hikers may hear the sounds of the pileated woodpecker, ruffed grouse and the call of the loon.

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