West of the St. Croix River : Midweek Getaway

The image is of a wooden sign with the words Travel Wisconsin burned into the weathered wood of varying shades of brown and gray. The "o" in Wisconsin is in the shape of the state.

#22 of my 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


The image is of the Merrick State Park entrance sign. The sign, painted brown with bold white lettering is supported by to columns of stacked stone on either side. A broad green lawn is in front of the sign, a forested area is behind the sign. Wildflower plants surround the sign on a small raised flower bed.

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.


GEAR: Merrell Women’s Siren 3 Mid Waterproof, REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket, REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket, REI Co-op Rainier Full Zip Rain Pant, Marmot Kompressor Pack, SPOT GEN3 Satellite GPS Messenger, Dueter Dirtbag, Kula Cloth, Leki Women’s Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA trekking poles, ENO DoubleNest Hammock with Atlas Straps, Guardian Bug Net and Pro Rainfly, Paria Thermodown 30 down quilt, REI Flash 3-Season Sleeping Pad, Thermarest Z Seat™, MSR Pocket Rocket Stove, GSI Pinnacle Dualist Cookset, MSR® IsoPro™ Fuel. Want to know more about my gear selections? Head on over to Gear & Gadgets or check out my posts titled “Gear in Review”.

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Photo of a group of hikers on a sunny day in a field heading towards a wooded area. The photographer has taken the photo from behind the group.

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