Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls

Morse / Mellen, Wisconsin, USA

About Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.7 miles loop
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2015-09-28
Date last visited: 2015-09-28

Waterfall Latitude: 46.37313
Waterfall Longitude: -90.64003

Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls were a pair of the featured waterfalls of Copper Falls State Park.

The Copper Falls waterfall was a segmented and muti-tiered series of drops on the Bad River dropping some 30ft or so.

Copper_Falls_SP_051_09282015 - Copper Falls
Copper Falls

Given its twisting nature, it wasn’t possible to get an all-inclusive look at it from any one position.

Instead, we had to experience it from a couple of different vantage points to get the full experience, which we’ll get into below.

Meanwhile, the Brownstone Falls could very well be the show stealer of this state park.

It featured a more vertical and singular 40ft drop while surrounded by tall cliffs.

In addition to these waterfalls, we also could have encountered the Tyler Cascades as well as the Red Granite Falls, which we didn’t have the time to do.

Copper_Falls_SP_082_09282015 - Brownstone Falls
Brownstone Falls

Indeed, the Copper Falls State Park definitely had a lot to keep us around and really experience this slice of Nature in Northern Wisconsin.

Julie and I were actually turned onto this falls from a suggestion by a pair of locals that we encountered while visiting the Potato River Falls.

Contrasting the more rugged and potentially riskier scrambling paths to fully appreciate Potato River Falls, the Copper Falls State Park was far more family-friendly.

Experiencing the Waterfalls of Copper Falls State Park

In hindsight, we probably should have hiked 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.

Copper_Falls_SP_014_09282015 - Julie and Tahia on the well-developed walkway at Copper Falls State Park
Julie and Tahia on the well-developed walkway at Copper Falls State Park

Instead, we did a couple of out-and-back hikes from the well-established parking lot 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.

From the bridge, we managed to get 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.

Copper_Falls_SP_018_09282015 - Tahia going up a brief hill leading to the footbridge with a partial view of the Copper Falls
Tahia going up a brief hill leading to the footbridge with a partial view of the Copper Falls

Unfortunately, the view of the falls from here was obstructed though 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.

Copper_Falls_SP_060_09282015 - Focused look down at the segmented nature of the Copper Falls
Focused look down at the segmented nature of the Copper 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.

Nevertheless, in the end, we definitely enjoyed our experiences at Copper Falls State Park (at least more so than the Potato River Falls).

Copper_Falls_SP_065_09282015 - Context of the railings between the overlooks of the Copper Falls and the Brownstone Falls
Context of the railings between the overlooks of the Copper Falls and the Brownstone 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!

Authorities

Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls reside in Copper Falls State Park in Ashland County, Wisconsin. It is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Copper_Falls_SP_003_09282015 - Looking towards the concession buildings by the parking lot for Copper Falls State Park
Copper_Falls_SP_010_09282015 - Beyond the concession buildings, the well-developed and well-signed loop trail taking in the best of the Copper Falls State Park began
Copper_Falls_SP_016_09282015 - Looking upstream from the footbridge at the Bad River, which was responsible for Copper Falls
Copper_Falls_SP_020_09282015 - Julie and Tahia walking onto the bridge affording us the partial top down view of Copper Falls
Copper_Falls_SP_021_09282015 - This was the view of Copper Falls from the bridge, which yielded a top down view of one of the waterfall's segments
Copper_Falls_SP_037_09282015 - This was the view of Brownstone Falls and Bad River Gorge from a lookout beyond the bridge with the partial view of Copper Falls
Copper_Falls_SP_040_09282015 - After backtracking to the concession area, I then crossed this bridge above the Bad River to hike the other side of the loop trail in Copper Falls State Park
Copper_Falls_SP_058_09282015 - Full contextual view of the Copper Falls
Copper_Falls_SP_063_09282015 - Beyond the Copper Falls lookout, the trail continued towards a frontal view of Brownstone Falls
Copper_Falls_SP_064_09282015 - The continuation of the trail to Brownstone Falls meandered over a few more small bridges while being flanked by pine trees with some modest elevation gain and loss
Copper_Falls_SP_072_09282015 - Finally, a satisfyingly frontal view of Brownstone Falls
Copper_Falls_SP_084_09282015 - Here's a slightly different look at Brownstone Falls showing that there were even more smaller cascades further downstream
Copper_Falls_SP_085_09282015 - Returning to the large parking lot for Copper Falls State Park at the end of the loop hike
Copper_Falls_SP_088_09282015 - On our way out of Copper Falls State Park, we drove by Leon Lake, which mesmerized us with its calm reflections
Copper_Falls_SP_094_09282015 - Another look across the still reflections of Leon Lake as we drove out of Copper Falls State Park and into the UP of Northern Michigan

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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.

Copper_Falls_SP_004_09282015 - The parking lot for Copper Falls State Park
The parking lot for Copper Falls State Park

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 parking lot at the end of the road.

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.

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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Tagged with: morse, mellen, ashland county, wisconsin, gurney, waterfall, brownstone falls, copper falls, state park, bad river, great lakes



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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