Amnicon Falls State Park
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
Amnicon Falls State Park is only a quick 25 minute drive from Pattison State Park, so after lunch one day we decided to go check out these nearby falls and the covered bridge. After just experiencing the tallest waterfall in Wisconsin, our first encounter with a waterfall at Amnicon left something to be desired. Thankfully, the park as a whole made up for the underwhelming first glance.
After parking, we decided to follow a short offshoot trail to view the Now and Then Falls before heading over the Amnicon River’s Upper and Lower Falls. As the name suggests, the Now and Then Falls are dependent on the river’s water level and are most impressive during times of high water. At the time of our visit, the water level wasn’t high, so the falls were more Then than Now. We looked momentarily at the small spurt of water, laughed about the deceiving scale of the map, and walked the fifteen feet back to the parking lot.
Crossing to the other side of the parking lot, we descended another short trail and stairway to a platform adjacent to the Upper Falls’ plunge pool. Though still not as impressive as the Manitou Falls at Pattison, the Upper Falls were starting to warm me up to this park. Crossing the covered bridge and meandering through the pine stands on the small island, surrounded by the Amnicon River and three sets of falls, I couldn’t help but feel like I was at a theme park—and I mean that in the best way possible.
Though the map indicated a trail that looped on the island, we discovered a network of paths, each leading to a quant view of the river or of the falls and each only a short walk to another. I don’t believe the park officially designed it this way; rather, visitors created these routes as they explored the island and its views. And now these unofficial trails function much like the indirect routes of theme parks designed to keep visitors ambling through the attractions and extending their stay.
As we made our way through this network of trails, we attempted to stay along the edge of the island, walking clockwise beginning and ending at the covered bridge. Our favorite attractions along the way included Snake Pit Falls and checking out the remnants of an old stone structure now abandoned in the middle of the river. At points along the trail, we marveled at how the harder surface stone remained, with trees still growing in the shallow soil, while the softer rock eroded below it creating ledges jutting out precariously over the river—made even more precarious by the people standing on them!
Back at the covered bridge, families with small children splashed in the river and teens posed for Instagram photos in their bikinis. Lucky and I walked down a short flight of stone stairs to the river’s edge and looked back up at the covered bridge. Though I had been initially unimpressed by my first glimpse of this park, I had developed a fondness for it as we meandered around the island. Amnicon Falls doesn’t rely on any one feature to leave a dramatic impression. Instead, the sum of Amnicon’s parts creates a charming world befitting a fairytale or at the very least a stop during a family vacation.
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