Today I left on a quest to see some of Lake Superior’s coastline and a few Wisconsin Waterfalls. I have a great, very-detailed map of Wisconsin by DeLorme that looks more like an atlas with over 100 pages. It sometimes gets me into trouble since all who have traveled with me know I strive to “see it all” and take roads I probably shouldn’t be taking in an effort to get up close to that spectacular overlook. In Wisconsin, most of those little red-lined roads have houses with signs saying they don’t want to share those great overlooks. It didn’t take me long to start looking for the brown “public access” signs before taking a route, so my little car and I would be welcome to take a peek.
With that said, my first good stop was at Wisconsin Point Lighthouse near Superior, as far north and west in Wisconsin as you can get.
Wisconsin Point light and its attached fog horn building sits at an opening in the world’s longest fresh water sand bar, marking the entrance to Superior Bay since 1913. This 10-mile long sand bar stretches between Duluth and Superior and provides one of the safest harbors in the world. With its sandy beaches and today’s calm waters, it was a great spot to walk for a while and gaze at Lake Superior. The lighthouse sits at the end of a breakwater that looked a little daunting on this gloomy day. Wondering whether it would start pouring at any time, I opted for a picture from shore.
Pattison State Park
Just south of Superior is Pattison State Park, named after Martin Pattison, who became rich from his iron mining business in the late 1800s. In 1917, he squelched a plan for a dam to be built on the Black River by secretly buying up 680 acres of land along the river, thus saving the Big Manitou Falls. In 1918 he donated the land to the state and in 1920 they named this beautiful park after him.
Little Manitou Falls
Pattison State Park is home to the highest waterfalls in Wisconsin. I always like to start small and work my way up to the most spectacular, and they were pretty much right across from each other anyway, so I started with the Little Manitou Falls, which drops about 30 feet. After plenty of rain, it was running pretty full and really not all that little! You can get up pretty close to these falls and the copper color is just gorgeous. The park around the falls is lush and green and offers cooler temperatures if heat is a problem the day you are there. I remember seeing these falls in the late summer many years ago after just moving from Oregon and I wasn’t too impressed. Visiting in the early spring helps make them as great as they can be and I was certainly impressed this time!
Big Manitou Falls
Big Manitou Falls drops about 165 feet and is the highest of the Wisconsin Waterfalls. Although you can’t get up close, it is pretty spectacular and should not be missed. Hiking down into the gorge is not allowed, but the trail back to it is very nice, with great “Up North” smells.
This year (2015) is a particularly bad year for ticks, so do a thorough search after you’ve been in the woods. We’ve been lucky so far, but you never know! Deer ticks are the worst, with all kinds of strange symptoms that can’t be diagnosed, and to me are one of the scariest of all of God’s creepy crawlers.
How do those trees grow out of the rock anyway? It was just beautiful!
Amnicon State Park
If you’ve seen a few of my blogs, you know I love taking pictures of bridges and fences and any kind of natural walls. About 20 miles northeast of Pattison State Park is Amnicon State Park, home of the Upper and Lower Amnicon Falls. This park has all of the above plus the falls are just beautiful.
The park also offers a great picnic area, wooded campsites and great hiking trails. There’s no electricity or showers (or flushies), so unless you’re OK with that, leave your RV at home. The park is open all year around, so winter camping and snowshoeing would be a blast.
If you visit in the fall, the water levels are usually lower, but the colors of the fall foliage would make up for it. I would highly recommend a stop at this park.
Upper Amnicon Falls
Lower Amnicon Falls
Lake and Shake
My little car is programmed to just pull over at small lakes I run across. I had to hold it back for this trip, because there were lakes everywhere. This was a good one though, and the kids that were playing on the swing set at the park were wondering what I was doing pulling over near them. They waved and I waved and they went back to talking about whatever young kids talk about these days!
Anytime I can get a burger, fries and a shake for lunch it’s great, but when the place looks like this, it’s fantastic!! During the off time of year, you have to do a little planning and I had to return a couple days after my initial discovery in order to actually get in.
Well, that does it for this long day. I love vacations!