Thursday, May 21, 2015

Park Review: Council Grounds State Park

According to my notes, our stay at Council Grounds was in 2007. Council Grounds is west of Merrill Wisconsin, and the reason I'm reviewing it today is that tomorrow's hike will bring us up into that region. Merrill itsself is reasonably close to Wausau, putting this just above the 'Dragon line' (as in 'here there be') on the Wisconsin map. Still, the proximity to civilization shows. It's very much a "the usual amenities" car camping park, though I remember the trails being pleasant. The main feature of this park that would draw me there is its proximity to the Wisconsin River.  The trails we walked led along the wisconsin river, and north of the dam on the river there's an area set aside for swimming. The water had a red-brown tint to it, if memory serves me. 2007 wasn't a particularly hot year and the campsite was well shaded. I recall doing more to soak up sunlight when we went to swim, than anything water-related. As swimming areas go, I suppose I'd rather go there than Willow River State Park, but Firefly beats either one in a heartbeat.

I camped here with a group of friends some of whom I've known since Elementary School, others who I met between then and college. Fairly early into our trip, the bow saw's blade broke shortly before dinnertime. We sent part of our party back to town in search of a replacement blade, but there was no luck to be had. Instead, they came back with an almost laughably small bow saw as the only thing they could find. Also, rather than the hardware store I recalled our passing in merrill they went all the way back to wausau. The replacement saw was not up to slicing up logs of any significant size. anything bigger than my forearm and it would sieze up and overheat. Fortunately for us, the campground had a plentiful supply of fallen pines that fit those exact critera. Unfortunately, that meant a lot of smoky, ashy fast burning wood. Fun to cook over...

It's a nice park, but I see relatively little reason to go there. Hartman Creek is nicer and closer. Willow River has better trails, Firefly has better swimming. I know the IAT follows the wisconsin for a little in this area, but I don't think it goes near the park. If it did, I suppose camping there would be one reason to go.

Some Pictures from our trip there:

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