Merrick State Park

Merrick State Park

Merrick State Park feels like a small park, though it’s not among the smallest overall.

The DNR site currently says there are just 2 miles of hiking trails in the entire park.

That’s not quite true.

When we hiked in Merrick (the day after tackling Brady’s Bluff in Perrot State Park), we found several unmapped trails that almost led us astray.

Part of the reason for our confusion along the trails was that, except for the loop near the south campground, they are very poorly marked.

When I say “poorly marked”, I mean there are virtually no directional signs to be found.

Even the rare signpost like this one (below) is nearly hidden in the trees.

You can only see it fairly well in this shot because I was crouching down to take the shot.

Rock in the House

On the way to Merrick, we stopped at the Rock in the House.

Rock in the House 1
Rock in the House 2
Hidden trail directions sign

Merrick is also one of the more unusually-shaped parks. I suppose it has something to do with its history, but it sure seems strange that that angular indentation in the center of the eastern border is an area that contains several private houses.

Merrick map

The Spider Web Trail

The 2 miles of trails in Merrick are not named. So, we decided to name the loop that covers much of the central section of the park the Spider Web Trail.

Here’s one of the reasons why.

Spider web aloft

This web above was the most spectacular one we saw. There was another one aloft along the trail, but the sunlight wasn’t catching like it did for this one. There were also several large horizontal webs on the floor of the woods.

We could have called this the Spider Web and Mushroom Trail, due to the many types of mushrooms we found.

Red mushroom #1
Red mushroom #2
White mushrooms
Large yellow mushroom

Related, there was this shelf fungus growing on a tree that had fallen (or perhaps had been cut…I don’t remember) beside the path.

Shelf fungus on fallen tree

Speaking of fallen trees, I had to duck to get under the furthest one.

Fallen trees overhead

We heard several types of birds, but these crows almost seemed to be following us around.

Two crows in a tree

This (closed) Nature Center was where we started and ended our first loop. It looked like (through the window) that it had some interesting items inside, but we couldn’t get at them.

Nature Center

The QR Trail

The other loop we hiked I’m going to call the QR Trail because it had 11 signs along the way that each had a QR code on them.

Getting to the trail was a bit awkward. There is no parking lot at the trailhead. You have to walk maybe 100 yards along the road to get to the trail. Poor planning.

As you can see below, this QR sign indicates the highest point in Merrick State Park. (That’s not saying a lot.)

QR code sign #4

As we approached this loop, we came to a fork in the road, so to speak. I decided to go to the left and hike it clockwise. It turned out that that’s not what the creators intended. We encountered the QR signs in reverse order – from 11 to 2. (Sign #1 was back at the start of the trail before we got to the fork.)

Along the way, there are two spurs that each have a wooden stairway leading down to the water.

Stairs #2
Stairs #1

Across the water from the first one I descended, is this large bluff.

Bluff #2

At the water’s edge (and elsewhere) were some of these brilliant red flowers.

Red flowers by the water

Across the water from the second one, is Osprey Bluff. (I don’t recall the other bluff being named, but it probably is.)

Osprey Bluff

One of the QR signs mentioned an invasive vine that can choke trees to death. I think this is what it was talking about.

Invasive vine wrapping tree

We noticed two tiny (about an inch or so long) frogs / toads along the path. Here’s one of them.

Small frog or toad

Back at the small parking lot, there is this swing that we tried out for a while.

Swing by the river

Boating seems to be a popular activity in Merrick. We saw many boating trailers in one of the lots.

Boating on the river

Merrick is a nice little state park. Maybe we’re getting to be “park snobs”, but I think they could do a much better job of marking the trails – even if (or because?) there are only 2 miles of them.

Location

Nearest City

Fountain City, Wisconsin (4 miles)

Nearest Emergency Facility

Arcadia, Wisconsin (23 miles)

Hours

6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, year-round

Cost

Vehicle admission sticker required

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.