The Copper Falls State Park began construction in 1920, and was established as a state park in 1929. President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) advanced the park’s development in 1930. In response to the growing unemployment statistics, President Roosevelt formed the CCC as part of his New Deal. The CCC served two main purposes – it relieved the unemployment situation, and it provided a growing awareness of the state park system.
The waterfalls are the primary features of Copper Falls State Park. Formed over millions of years, the waterfalls have carved their way through the lava, sediment, and rock layers to create a natural wonder. The Bad River flows through Wisconsin on its path towards Lake Superior. The Red Granite Falls is more accurately a set of rapids rather than a waterfall. Unlike its steeper cousins, the Red Granite Falls are accessible. Tourists can walk around and on the rocks that form this scenic area. The Copper Falls mark the Bad River’s first obstruction on its journey, and the first spectacular waterfall in the park. The Bad River cuts through approximately two miles of canyon to reach the twenty-nine foot drop at the Copper Falls. A little further down the Bad River’s course, Tyler Forks rejoins the river as it plunges over the spectacular Brownstone Falls. The sides of the gorge rise up to over one hundred feet.
Veterans of WWI constructed the original trails through Copper Falls State Park. The CCC at the Works Progress Administration continued the trail work, and began work on the various cabins throughout the park. Today, the Department of Natural Resources maintains existing trails and blazes new ones that showcase the beauty of the park.
With more than twenty-three miles of trail, Copper Falls State Park offers a path to suit the abilities of any visitor. The Doughboy’s Nature Trail is nearly two miles long. It starts at the concession building and follows the meandering course of the Bad River and Tyler Fork. From this trail, visitors experience panoramic vistas of the park, including the Copper Falls and the Brownstone Falls. The Red Granite Falls Trail is a two and one-half mile loop beginning at the Loon Lake Beach. The North Country National Scenic Trail runs nearly the entire length of the park for four miles. This trail is part of a national trail that will eventually extend from New York to North Dakota. Visitors can access the trail at a number of points, including the entrance, the concession area, and the North Camp area. Copper Falls State Park is also accessible by seven and one-half miles of mountain biking trails and eight miles of cross-country ski trails.
Copper Falls State Park provides a variety of camping experiences to its visitors. Two campsites are located off the beaten path, providing a bit of seclusion from the hikers and mountain bikers. The two sites have a combined total of fifty-four individual sites. Nearly half of these sites have electrical hookups for recreational vehicles. One site is handicap accessible. For visitors who prefer a more rustic experience, one backpack campsite contains individual sites. For large groups, Copper Falls State Park provides a group camping area that can accommodate up to forty people. Campers can purchase firewood at the park concession stand. Shower facilities are located near the South Campground. These facilities are available to all campers during the warm months. Winter campers do not have access to shower facilities. Recreational vehicles may use the dumpsite located near the South Camp Area to off-load waste during the warm months. The dumpsite is not available for winter campers.
Copper Falls State Park abounds hums with activity. In addition to the various hiking trails, visitors will find some of the best fishing in Wisconsin. Rainbow, brown, and brook trout slip through the Bad River and Tyler Forks River. Largemouth bass, panfish, and northern pike flourish in Loon Lake. After a day of fishing, visitors can fry the day’s catch at one of the twenty-seven grills spread over the park’s twenty-one acres of picnic area.
For additional information regarding Copper Falls State Park, visit the park’s website at http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/parks/specific/copperfalls/.