Pattison & Amnicon Falls State Parks

Pattison State Park Lake 

I never want to admit that any state has better parks that Minnesota, but I know that is very foolish because many of Minnesota's state parks at lackluster and most state have incredibly beautiful places to visit. So, if you plan to cross our eastern border into the wonderful state of Wisconsin, make sure you put these two state parks on your list of places to go. Just southeast of Superior, WI, they can easily be done together in a half a day. 

Pattison State Park is a northwoods paradise. Home to Big and Little Manitou Falls, water is a main attraction here. Big Manitou Falls is across the highway from the main park (accessible by a tunnel) and is the fourth tallest waterfall east of the rocky mountains. The 165 ft drop flows into a foggy canyon, making it difficult to capture the entire falls in a single photograph, but I did my best. Cross back to the main part of the road and hike the river a mile or so down to Little Manitou falls. While only a trifling 31 ft drop, the smaller falls is the more impressive. It was raging when we visited and is more of a traditional drop than the cascading of the big falls. The river, swollen with snowmelt, is worth spending some time exploring as well and an easy trail loops around the park, crossing the river near the falls. 

Little Manitou Falls aren't so small in the spring thaw 

Amnicon Falls State Park, as its name suggests, also has a waterfall - although its neither as large nor as impressive as the Pattison falls. Amincon is a smaller and more developed park and the biggest attraction is the covered bridge connecting the main park to a small river island. Do the main loop trail beginning at the covered bridge. You'll be rewarded with great views of the cascades and craggy banks as well as open pine forests and unidentifiable ruins. This is what I would describe as a picnic park - go bring a lunch, hike a bit, play in the water if the river isn't too high, and don't feel the need to stay more than an hour or two. The highlights are worth visiting, but can be seen in just a few minutes. 

River Island  at Amnicon Falls State Park 

If you're feeling ambitious afterwards, head north to spend some time at the south shore of Lake Superior or grab some dinner on the waterfront in Duluth if only to remind yourself that while these parks feel like the wilderness, they are just a short drive from civilization and can easily be done in a day trip.