Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls

Mellen / Morse / Ashland County, Wisconsin, USA

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 2
Copper Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls were a pair of the featured waterfalls of the Copper Falls State Park. Julie and I were actually turned onto this falls by a pair of locals that we encountered while visiting the Potato River Falls. It was they who suggested that we give this state park a try. And contrasting the more rugged and potentially riskier scrambling paths to fully appreciate Potato River Falls, the state park was far more family-friendly as we were able to experience both the Copper and Brownstone Falls on developed trails with established and signposted lookouts for a much safer and more satisfying experience without risking life and limb to do it.

Copper Falls was a segmented and multi-tiered series of drops on the Bad River dropping some 30ft or so. Given the twisting nature of the falls, it wasn't possible to get an all-inclusive look from any one position. Instead, we had to experience it from a couple of different vantage points to get the full experience. On the other hand, Brownstone Falls could very well be the show stealer of the state park as this 40ft falls had a more vertical and singular drop. There were also the Tyler Cascades (on the same looping trail taking in both Copper and Brownstone Falls) as well as the Red Granite Falls (which was on a different and longer trail at a different car park), but we visited neither of these given the limited amount of time we had.

Julie and Tahia on the well-developed walkway at Copper Falls State Park In hindsight, we probably should have done the entire 1.7-mile looping Doughboys Trail, which would have encompassed all the different ways to see both the Copper and Brownstone Falls as well as the Tyler Cascades and the Devil's Gate. Instead, we did a couple of out-and-back hikes from the well-established car park and concession area. We first kept right (not crossing the bridge by the concession buildings) and followed a wide but wooded path with a short climb leading to a bridge with a top down partial view of Copper Falls. The view from here wasn't very fulfilling, but it gave us the sense that there was far more to this waterfall than what we were able to see so far.

Another 1/4-mile beyond the bridge was the signposted lookout for Brownstone Falls and the Bad River Gorge. Unfortunately, the view of the falls from here was obstructed, but I was able to appreciate the depth and ruggedness of the gorge. This marked my turnaround point though I very well could have kept going towards the Tyler Cascades.

Back at the concession buildings, I then took the other side of the loop by crossing the bridge then following the trail for a few minutes before I reached a railed lookout providing me with a direct view of Copper Falls (pictured at the top of this page). Once I had my fill of the falls from this vantage point, I then continued further downstream for about another 0.3 miles before reaching the more frontal view of Brownstone Falls. This was my turnaround point of the hike, but in hindsight, it wasn't that much additional hiking to complete the loop to cover the parts that I wasn't able to in doing the two short out-and-back hikes.

So given what we were able to do, it took us just under an hour. However, I'd imagine that it would take just as much time if we would have done the entire 1.7-mile loop hike in the first place. And in the end, we definitely enjoyed our experiences at both these falls more so than the Potato River Falls so we were glad that the Wisconsin couple that we had met earlier in the day made the recommendation to us. We owe them for this one!




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PHOTO JOURNAL

The other main waterfall in the park was Brownstone Falls, which featured an attractive 30-40ft drop deep within the recesses of the Bad River Gorge. I thought this was the park's best fallsThe other main waterfall in the park was Brownstone Falls, which featured an attractive 30-40ft drop deep within the recesses of the Bad River Gorge. I thought this was the park's best falls
Near the entrance to Copper Falls State Park, we caught a glimpse of the attractive and calm Loon Lake, which produced beautiful reflections amidst some Fall colors coming outNear the entrance to Copper Falls State Park, we caught a glimpse of the attractive and calm Loon Lake, which produced beautiful reflections amidst some Fall colors coming out
About 22 miles east of Potato River Falls was the town of Ironwood, Michigan, which possessed this giant Hiawatha statue that was proclaimed to be 'the largest Indian statue in the world.'About 22 miles east of Potato River Falls was the town of Ironwood, Michigan, which possessed this giant Hiawatha statue that was proclaimed to be 'the largest Indian statue in the world.'
The large car park at Copper Falls State ParkThe large car park at Copper Falls State Park

Looking towards the concession buildingsLooking towards the concession buildings

Beyond the concession buildings, the well-developed and well-signed loop trail beganBeyond the concession buildings, the well-developed and well-signed loop trail began

Looking upstream at the Bad River, which was responsible for Copper FallsLooking upstream at the Bad River, which was responsible for Copper Falls

Tahia about to go up some steps in the only climb on the right side of the loop walkTahia about to go up some steps in the only climb on the right side of the loop walk

Julie and Tahia walking onto the bridge affording us the partial top down view of Copper FallsJulie and Tahia walking onto the bridge affording us the partial top down view of Copper Falls

This was the view of Copper Falls from the bridgeThis was the view of Copper Falls from the bridge

This was the view of Brownstone Falls and Bad River Gorge from a lookout beyond the bridge with the partial view of Copper FallsThis was the view of Brownstone Falls and Bad River Gorge from a lookout beyond the bridge with the partial view of Copper Falls

After backtracking to the concession area, I then crossed this bridge above the Bad River to hike the other side of the loop trailAfter backtracking to the concession area, I then crossed this bridge above the Bad River to hike the other side of the loop trail

After a few more minutes of walking, I managed to get this frontal view of Copper FallsAfter a few more minutes of walking, I managed to get this frontal view of Copper Falls

Focused look at the front of Copper FallsFocused look at the front of Copper Falls

Beyond the Copper Falls lookout, the trail continued towards a frontal view of Brownstone FallsBeyond the Copper Falls lookout, the trail continued towards a frontal view of Brownstone Falls

The continuation of the trail meandered over a few more small bridges while being flanked by pine trees with some modest elevation gain and lossThe continuation of the trail meandered over a few more small bridges while being flanked by pine trees with some modest elevation gain and loss

The trail pretty much followed these wooden railings on its way towards Brownstone Falls and Devil's GateThe trail pretty much followed these wooden railings on its way towards Brownstone Falls and Devil's Gate

Finally, a satisfyingly frontal view of Brownstone FallsFinally, a satisfyingly frontal view of Brownstone Falls

Here's a slightly different look at Brownstone Falls showing that there were even more smaller cascades further downstreamHere's a slightly different look at Brownstone Falls showing that there were even more smaller cascades further downstream

Returning to the large car park at the end of the loop hikeReturning to the large car park at the end of the loop hike


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Looking down at a partial view of Copper Falls from a footbridge


Examining the frontal view of Copper Falls while also panning around the surroundings


Checking out a frontal view of Brownstone Falls


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

We started our drive to Copper Falls from the Potato River Falls. For directions on getting to Potato River Falls, see that page's directions by clicking here. Once we got back on pavement at the Hwy 169 at Gurney from the Potato River Falls, we then turned right onto the Hwy 169 and drove south for roughly 13 miles. We then turned right into the well-signed Copper Falls State Park and followed the park road for the remaining 1.5 miles to reach the large car park at the end of the road. This was where we began our walk.

This drive took us roughly 25 minutes.

The closest town to the state park was Mellen. The entrance to the park was just under 2 miles to the northeast of town along Hwy 169.

For some geographical context, Mellen was 200 miles (over 3.5 hours drive) northeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota, 274 miles (over 4.5 hours drive) north of Madison, Wisconsin, and 414 miles (6.5 hours drive) northwest of Chicago, Illinois.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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