#22 of my 2021 52 Hike Challenge
Trail/Park: Merrick State Park, Fountain City, WI
I want to acknowledge this hike took place on the traditional territory of the Sauk and Meskwaki, Wahpeton, Waazija (Ho-Chunk / Winnebago) and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ. To learn more about the tribes and these lands, please follow the links provided.
Trash Collected: .5 pounds
A few weeks ago I had a couple days off from work and was in need for an outdoor getaway. With my goal of hiking all of the Minnesota State Parks complete, I was in search of a new adventure. I’d purchased a Wisconsin State Park pass earlier this summer so figured I’d best get some use out of it. One of the great things about living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro Wisconsin being less than an hour away by car. Just across the border there are several Wisconsin State Parks with beautiful locations on the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers.
After a bit of research I’d settled on an overnight camping trip to Merrick State Park. Located near Fountain City, WI the park sits on the St. Croix River surrounded by the hills of Wisconsin’s Coulee Region. Established in 1932 as a state park it offers direct river access for those wanting to explore the river bottoms or about four miles of hiking trails. Three campgrounds provide more than 80 options of site to choose from. With just one night to explore, I opted for a drive-in site which I was able to reserve via phone when I arrived.
I’d taken my time getting to the park and kept the slowed down vibe as I set up camp. Then off to explore! From the southern campground, I slowly made my way along the park road to the trails. The next hour or so was marked by views of the river, floodplain forest and views of the bluffs across the river. The trails are mostly flat, making the day a leisurely stroll in the woods despite the heat. I loved every minute of it.
Trail signs at the park are simple posts with a hiker symbol and arrow. You won’t find signs with your location or trail maps at trail intersections at this park so be sure to download a map prior to visiting. I wasn’t able to locate a printed map at the park entrance. It’s also a good idea to check to see if the park is open. Due to its location at river level in years where there is high water on the river the park can be closed because of flooding.
One of my favorite spots, besides my campsite, was a bench I found on my way back to the campground. Placed with a lovely view of the St. Croix River and marked with a plaque reading “To Mom and Dad” I imagined a couple sitting together taking in the view while kids swirled around them or kayaked the river. It was a sweet spot to sit and reflect before I made my way back to my campsite for dinner. Drifting off to sleep with the train whistle sounding for each passing train throughout the night, I felt the sense of gratitude I get every time I get to spend time in the outdoors.
Have you visited any of Wisconsin’s State Parks? I’d love to hear about your favorites and what you like about them!
Next Post Preview: An unexpected invitation takes me on a hike I thought I’d never do again.
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