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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Council Grounds Worth a Visit

On our way home from Bayfield last week we decided to take our time and made a stop at Council Grounds State Park instead of driving straight through for over 6 hours.  It was a good plan because the weather was sunny but cool and the campground there definitely worth checking out.

Site 22

Like most of the Wisconsin State Parks the sites are very large and very easy to get into.   Look how small our 37 foot fifth wheel looks in Site 22.  We did have some trouble leveling up, perhaps the heavy rains earlier in the season and the sandy soil have contributed to the many dips in the gravel site.  As you can tell from the younger trees the town of Merrill has a history of logging, the trees in the park were planted in the 1930's and provide plenty of shade.

Sites spaced generously

Fungi were flourishing at this park, even Wayne noticed this specimen at our campsite.  He asked me to get a picture of it but I was on that while he was getting us all hooked up.  I've got him noticing plants and fungi, next thing you know he'll have me identifying animal tracks and scat!

Blushing Bracket?  Fungi identification is HARD!

I actually found another website for fungi identification but you have to go through each name one at a time to see the picture.  They are divided into categories such as puffball and shelf, but there are still a lot of them.

There was also a lot of Trillium, I'm sure this place must look amazing in the late spring when they are all in bloom.

Trillium berry

There's more to see than what is growing out of the ground at Council Grounds.

The town of Merrill is located on the Wisconsin River and since the mid 1800's dams were built for the saw mills that came with the logging industry.  In 1889 nearly 20 mills were producing lumber in the area.  I know that won't make Sherry happy, but at least the trees were replanted in much of the "northwoods" and efforts are now made to harvest responsibly.

Lots of fishing on Lake Alexander within the park boundary

Lake Alexander is a 677 acre reservoir within the park, and the park service also offers kayak and canoe rentals.  We didn't have time for that, but it's good to know.  I'll probably return here by myself to camp and I don't drag a kayak along but I can bring my own paddle and life jacket, right?

Tansy and Fleabane along the Wisconsin River

After we got settled in to camp we took a bike ride through the park.  Not only did we stop at the dam and the lake, but we spotted a doe with her fawn and a suspicious black shape that we then couldn't relocate when we turned our bikes back around.  I think there's bear in 'dem dar woods.

Lots of ferns growing in the young forest

There were a handful of larger red and white pines around, and blackberry bushes too, but a lady was walking around with a bucket scouring them pretty clean.  She got a lot of scratches on her arms and legs for her efforts.

Mosquito season is winding down and ticks seem to be done as well.  Come on out and play in Wisconsin!  Wildflower season is winding down too, but I did spot some the next morning when we went for a walk.

Aster - which one?  Aromatic Aster maybe?

We took the Big Pines Nature loop since there was access just a few steps down from our campsite, but there are some other trails as well. All the trails are under a mile and are easy strolls for anyone just looking to connect with nature a bit.

Flat Topped White Aster?  Short's Aster?

I felt pretty lucky to spot Dolls Eyes which is a member of the buttercup family.  I didn't see the bloom on my travels this spring, and this plant was the only one I saw sporting the berries in the park.  It was pretty hard to miss those weird berries!  Everywhere I go I always find something new.  Mother Nature is amazing in her variety.

It took some searching to identify the other plant that was the only one of its kind flowering that I came across.

White Rattlesnake Root?

I think the plant is the White Rattlesnake Root - just look at the detail on that bloom!  I got it by searching Flickr for "wfgna" along with keywords such as the color and state.  I got a little help with my asters that way too.  Give it a try!

If you were thinking about coming to stay the campground has 55 sites, 19 with electricity.  Showers and flush toilets are available as well as a dump station.  No awkward twists and turns for larger rigs to worry about here either.


On our way out we had to make a stop at the Post Office so got a quick look at town.  It looks like a nice place to explore, and there was even someone painting a mural.  Since we were towing the camper I couldn't get a picture, but you know that means I have to come back again for sure!

Spotted Joe Pye Weed

I stayed home this weekend and laid around on the couch watching the two seasons of "Orphan Black" on Amazon after weeks of harassment by Katrina.  So good!  The first season is free for Prime users, but we had to pay $22.99 for the second season.  I think ten hours of entertainment is worth that, don't you?  It's been too hot and humid here to go outside and who wants to wash the walls and floors?  Hey, I did laundry, balanced the checkbook and made marshmallow treats.  Don't judge me.


  1. That dolls eyes is pretty creepy looking, but aptly named. We're back in Iowa and have had several hot days when we've paid (!) For electric.

  2. Hey, I never judge...hope you spend some time researching Indiana Dunes!