What to do in Council Grounds State Park

Before Whiteman's invasion of the region, Council Grounds State Park was home to Native American tribal festivals, thus the park's name. With its dense forests of white pine and its prime access to the Wisconsin River, logging became the region's dominate occupation during the late 19th century and into the 20th century. The state acquired the property in 1978 after a series of public owners. Today, this lovely park still exhibits ancient trees and scenic Wisconsin River and Lake Alexander views punctuated by rock outcroppings and thriving blue heron and white-tailed deer populations.

Council Grounds State Park features 55 campsites, electric hookup, modern bathhouse, and small nature center. The campground is scenically located amid gently rolling terrain with trails leading to the beach and along the 0.75-mile Big Pine Nature Trail. Camping reservations are available online or by calling a toll-free reservation number. Contact information is listed below.

Numerous picnic facilities provide plenty of day use space including a 100-yard long beach framed by beautiful old hardwoods and pines. The beach area is guarded and features modern bathhouse and concession stand. In addition to Big Pine Nature Trail, hikers will find the 2-mile River Run Trail running through the 21-acre Krueger Pines State Natural Area. Physical fitness buffs enjoy a fitness trail near the Krueger Pines Picnic Area. Strolling a portion of the dam levy makes for a pleasant and scenic evening activity. Boating and canoeing are popular summertime pursuits both along the lazy Wisconsin River and on Lake Alexander. A boat launch, canoe portage, and shoreline fishing access are available. The ADA fishing pier is a cooperative project between the Federal Sporting Fishing Restoration Fund and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. This area is ideal for the young angler. The islands on Lake Alexander are popular with pan fish and walleye anglers. Lake depths reach 36 feet. Wisconsin fishing regulations apply. Nature lovers will enjoy watching the large herd of white-tailed deer seen throughout the park. Feeding the herd is strongly discouraged. Bird watchers can observe several active bald eagle and osprey nests in addition to the very fascinating blue heron rookery located at the second island behind the dam. Locals say the rookery is visible from shore at Al's Beach.

Recreations pursued at Council Grounds State Park include camping, swimming, fishing, water skiing, canoeing, boating, cross-country skiing, hiking, fitness trail, and nature study.

Council Grounds State Park is located in Northeast Wisconsin along the beautiful Wisconsin River one mile northwest of Merrill.

Northeast Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. Great Lakes Michigan and Superior tend to make summers cooler and winters milder close to shore. January's average temperature is in the teens F (-teens C). Average July temperature is 68-70 degrees F (20 degrees C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) for a several day stretch. The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 30-32". Annual snowfalls in the Northeast Region have a wide range; the southern areas may receive 50" while the northern areas may receive in excess of 180". Nighttime summer temperatures can dip below freezing. Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.

1110 E. 10th Street
Merrill, WI 54452

Phone: 715-536-8773

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