Increasing access to recreation in northern Wisconsin

Proposed trail will provide locals with a safe route to Copper Falls State Park

For many residents of Morse and Mellen, access to Copper Falls State Park can be risky business.

That’s why the Town of Morse is working hard to raise funds for a new 1.67-mile, multi-purpose trail between Copper Falls State Park and the nearby City of Mellen.

The 3,068-acre state park offers all kinds of recreation, including fishing, hiking and boating in the summer and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. However, foot and bicycle traffic to the park faces inherent danger.

“We’ve seen not only kids but also families with baby carriages and people walking along the side of the highway. It’s a 55-mph winding road with no shoulders, and it’s just not safe for people to walk or bike along right now,” says Jeff Ehrhardt, board chairman for the Town of Morse, which encompasses both the park and the City of Mellen.

“The new trail would help locals get out there safely. The park has the only swimming beach in the area, and swimming lessons are held there in the summer. It’s a really popular area,” he adds.

Copper Falls State Park draws between 200,000 and 250,000 visitors a year. It’s used to hold events such as Shakespeare in the Park, yoga classes, a concert for the local community choir and various speakers throughout the summer.

As it ties into downtown Mellen, the proposed trail would connect Mellen School students with the park, along with many other locals. And beyond the safety considerations, the trail also represents a significant economic opportunity for surrounding communities.

“Copper Falls is a premier state park in Wisconsin. For a town of around 1,000 people, it’s quite an opportunity. This trail will really increase access to our local businesses,” notes Ehrhardt. “Once the trail is complete, we’d like to put up signs along the trail that will educate visitors on the habitat and history of the park and the land, so there’s an educational component to this as well.”

The town hopes to fund the costly trail project through an 80/20 matching funds grant with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. If the grant is approved, construction for the trail is tentatively planned to start in 2021.

Enbridge is dedicated to improving lives in communities near our operations and projects, including the Line 5 Wisconsin Segment Relocation Project. A pair of $50,000 grants—one to the Town of Morse, and one to the Friends of Copper Falls State Park—will help provide matching funds for this trail project.

“This trail will be really great for the area. Park attendance has been up this year—people have been taking advantage of the park while they can’t travel to other places,” Ehrhardt remarks.