Wisconsin’s Merrick State Park — The Backwaters of the Mississippi and Surrounding Bluffs

Near the end of the camping season, I had the chance to explore a park that was brand new to me. Located on the backwaters of the Mississippi River just north of Wynona, Minnesota, this park always fell off my radar because of it’s proximity to one of my all time favorite Wisconsin parks, Perrot. Like Perrot, this park is full of natural bluffs and adventurers exploring the mighty river.

Links to Follow Along:
Park Main Page
Park Map

With only two miles of trail, it’s not a destination park for hiking but does offer numerous scenic points to view the bluffs. If you love the water, boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, etc., then this park is for you. I’ll cover this later in my campground review post, but this park has numerous sites directly on the water. That makes it very unique.

More on that later. Let’s hike!

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Wisconsin’s Potawatomi State Park, Door County, Hiking Along the Shoreline

Door County is one of Wisconsin’s better known tourist destinations, famous for it’s coastal towns, cherries, apples, and fish boils. If you’re looking for an activity a little more in touch with nature while visiting Door County, you don’t need to look far. With 300 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and Green Bay, a scenic park is never too far away. Among the numerous city and county parks, Door County is home to five state parks, making it the county with the most state parks in Wisconsin.

One of these parks is 1,200 acre Potawatomi State Park. Located on the southern end of Door County, this park sits on Sturgeon Bay (the water) and is near Sturgeon Bay (the city.) If you’re planning to camp at the park, check out my review of the campground and our campsite here.

In addition to camping, the park is popular for water sports and hiking. The park rents canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats, with a boat launch for easy access to the bay. The park does not have a swimming beach because of its rocky shoreline.

The park is also popular with hikers, both those planning to hike within the park and those planning to hike through the park. The park itself has nearly seven miles of trails but also contains the Ice Age Trail’s eastern trailhead with a 2.8 mile segment of the 1000 mile trail within the park boundaries. This segment is a good place to test out the trail and perhaps, someday, will be where you begin or end your 1000 mile journey.

Not feeling up to 1000 miles, we opted to try out some of the trails belonging to the park. While the Ice Age Trail has me thinking about my next great adventure, I’ll focus on Potawatomi’s trails for now.

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Hiking, Mosquito Falls, Michican’s Upper Peninsula

I spend a lot of my time hiking in Wisconsin but sometimes I leave it and hike elsewhere. (Not all that often, though.) It’s fast becoming a tradition in my newly formed family (est. 2019) to take a week long trip each summer for a week of hiking and camping mixed with leisure and indoor sleeping. This year the trip was to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Munising in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP).

The Pictured Rocks is one of only three national lakeshores in the US. One is in Wisconsin, and two are in Michigan. The Pictured Rocks are named for their, well, pictured rocks. These sandstone formations stretch for 15 miles on Lake Superior and range from 50 to 200 feet high. (Enjoy the teaser photo below.) Aside from the lakeshore, the rest of the park offers numerous waterfalls, sand dunes, and other scenic natural formations.

In this post, I’m focusing on one of the hikes we did, the Mosquito Falls Trail.

This hike began in the park’s Chapel Basin area, which contains the trailhead for several hikes, including two with waterfalls and one longer loop that is the only hike allowing the cliffs to be seen by land. The park’s website says this, but I will confirm it, this area fills up fast. Get there early so you aren’t forced to wait for someone to leave or park illegally (as many were opting to do.)

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Campfire Comfort Food – Easy Veggie Sausage Pasta, Campfire Cooking

Comfort foods are the best. They serve the dual purpose of filling our stomachs while also filling our souls. Okay, that was way too cheesy! (Why yes, they often are cheesy.)

I’m always on the hunt for new campfire favorites. I like to have a good arsenal of things that are fun to cook and things that are easy to cook, depending on the camping trip. (If we’re not arriving and setting up camp until 7pm, that is probably not the night to try a complex dish.)

Focusing on the easy to cook category, I bring you veggie sausage pasta. This dish is a staple in my house. Noodles, sauce, protein, and veggies. It’s versatile, it’s fast, and it’s a great “veggie dump” dish. Meaning, I can throw in all the veggies that are about to go bad. You can use whole wheat pasta, chickpea pasta, chicken sausage, veggie sausage, whatever you want to make it as healthy or as unhealthy as you like.

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Wisconsin’s Potawatomi State Park — Campsite Review, A Ton of Sites and Limited Privacy

While many terrible things came out of the pandemic, one positive thing that emerged was the chance for people to discover new, socially distant hobbies. One activity the people flocked to was camping. It’s perfect, right? What could be more socially distant than moving your pandemic circle of contacts into the secluded forest? By some accounts, one in five people who camped during the pandemic were trying it for the first time ever, and another one in five people reported camping again for the first time in many years. The rise in camping was clear. Campsite reservations were harder to come by, parking lots were full, and trails were packed with people. (I know there were downsides to the extra strain on natural areas, but I’m focusing on the positives for now.)

Memorial Day weekend was always a busy time for campgrounds, pandemic or not. This year, kind of sort of coming out of the pandemic, it was even busier. Suddenly the knowledge that you can book campsites 11 months in advance was critical.

This year we camped at Potawatomi State Park in southern Door County. This 1,200 acre park sits on the southern shore of Sturgeon Bay. The park as a whole is a gorgeous, water focused park. I’ll get to that in another post. For now I want to focus on just the campsites.

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Campfire Breakfast Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

If I had to eat only tacos for the rest of my life, I think I would be totally fine with it. Health wise, though, I might end up with some deficits of vital nutrients. My love of tacos knows no bounds, so much so that my sister spoke of how my affection for tacos rivals my love for my husband in her maid of honor speech at our wedding. My husband fit right into this preexisting relationship and we now eat tacos 2-3 time per week.

Tacos have it all, protein, carb, veggies, heat. They are versatile and allow you to let your creativity shine. I could go on about tacos, singing their praises, but I’ll get down to what I came here to talk about: campfire breakfast tacos.

It’s hard to get me out of my sleeping bag some mornings, but I’ll do it for tacos.

These tacos had turkey sausage, eggs, onions, green peppers, and a homemade chipotle sauce. To make an early morning at the campsite as easy as possible, I started prepping these tacos at home, cutting veggies and cracking eggs.

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