Council Grounds State Park

N1895 Council Grounds Dr
Merrill, WI 54452


Native American encampments once occupied the site of Council Grounds State Park. Located along the Wisconsin River and Lake Alexander, this park is a favorite for water enthusiasts. This 508-acre park also offers camping, hiking, hunting and fishing opportunities.

Activities and recreation

The park has several miles of trails for hikers. The park's 2.5-mile main road is also popular with walkers and runners.


Family campground
The family campground is heavily wooded and has 52 campsites, showers and flush toilets. There are 19 sites with electricity. Each site has a table and fire ring. The campground also has a dump station and recycling containers.

Group campground
The outdoor group camp has three sites which accommodate 32 people each. All group campsites at the park have electricity.

Picnic areas
A large picnic area is near the beach on Lake Alexander. There are also picnic areas near the Big Pines Nature trail and the shelter building.

The 217-foot beach has an expansive sunning area and picnic area. The best time for swimming is mid-June through mid-August. Lifeguards are not provided.

Boating, canoeing and kayaking
A dam on the Wisconsin River at Council Grounds forms Lake Alexander. Boating and water skiing are popular on the lake. The park has a boat landing near the accessible fishing pier and beach.

The Friends of Council Grounds State Park rent canoes and kayaks in season. There is also an adaptive kayak available for rental. Items can be rented at the park office when the office is open. Canoe/kayak rentals are for the day (no overnight rentals). Rentals must return prior to sunset and the equipment turned into the office prior to close. Contact the park at 715-536-8773 for more information.

An accessible fishing pier is on the northwest side of the park near the boat landing. The pier has a wide walkway and safety rails for easy and safe maneuverability. The pier is connected to the boat landing area by an accessible trail containing fishing stations along the way, enabling visitors to fish on platforms, jutting out into the water.

Common fish species in Lake Alexander include northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, muskies, yellow perch, bluegills and black crappies.

Fishing the Wisconsin River along the Council Grounds shoreline, from the Alexander Hydro Plant to the shelter house area, can be quite productive. Deep pools, rook riffles and slow moving weedy areas provide a variety of fishing opportunities. Anyone age 16 and over must have a Wisconsin fishing license to fish.

Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the park office. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program. Call the park office to find out what equipment is available.

Hunting and trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame. Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails. Certain trap types are restricted on state park properties.

Winter activities
Back country cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are available in winter. The park does not monitor ice conditions on the lake or river.

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