Council Grounds State Park
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
Headed north on Highway 39, just 30 minutes north of Wausau, is Council Grounds State Park. Council Grounds also happens to be a little over halfway between my house and Copper Falls State Park, so it was the perfect place for us to stop for lunch on our way to Copper Falls.
As we drove into the park and found a spot to picnic, I was reminded of the opening of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” “During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens . . ..” When we arrived, the clouds were settling in for the day, and it was dark as we drove on the narrow road between dense stands of old growth white pines. The air was cool, and the park was quiet. An elderly man sat on a bench reading. We spotted another man fishing at the pier, but by the time we finished eating he was gone. The waters of Lake Alexander were as grey as the sky and rippled apathetically.
Poe goes on to find the House of Usher along a “singularly dreary tract of country,” and while the day in fact did feel dreary, Council Grounds State Park itself possessed a light that even the dreariest of days couldn’t snuff. After eating our lunch by the shores of Lake Alexander, we set out to explore the trails that would take us through the Krueger Pines Scientific Area. Walking through this forest, we were dwarfed on all sides by pines that were in some cases as large as two feet in diameter and that sheltered many a treasure at their feet including wild blackberries and day-glow orange fungus.
The berries, the fungus, the mighty stature of the trees and all the details in between combatted the somber feelings that had arisen in me upon first entering the park. Even the quiet left a positive impression considering how often the noise of highways and powerboats scores more popular state parks. Council Grounds is a modest park, but that modesty makes it endearing. If I lived in the area, I would go there to read on a bench, to stand in contemplation on the pier, or to find my muse among giant pines.
“ . . . there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond our depth.”
—from “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe
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