Located along the lazy Mississippi River and surrounded by the hills of Wisconsin's Coulee Region, the 322-acre Merrick State Park is popular with anglers and boaters. The marshy backwaters are home to a variety of fish, birds, animals and plants. Rising and falling river levels, though controlled some by dams, are part of the natural environment.
Activities and recreation
There are two miles of hiking trails at the park. The trails meander along the length of the park and offer hikers a variety of river views and access to the park's secluded areas.
There are 65 individual campsites in three campgrounds and a 50-person group tents-only campsite at Merrick State Park. Large rocks have been set along the shore to halt erosion and protect campsites. Do not move these rocks. Registered campers may moor boats overnight at each campground. There are dumpsters, recycling station and a trailer dump station near the contact station at the park entrance.
The north campground has a flush toilet shower building. There are 25 sites, 22 with electrical hookups. Site #6 is accessible for people with disabilities.
The south campground has 35 campsites, including 28 waterfront sites on Fountain City Bay. In years the Mississippi River floods, the south campground is closed until the water recedes and the campground dries out. The north campground shower building can be used by campers from the south campground.
There are five family walk-in tent campsites and a group tent site on an island, connected to the mainland by road. The island also has a log shelter, boat and canoe launches, picnic area, pit toilets and drinking water.
Picnic areas and playgrounds
There are picnic areas along the Mississippi River offering tables, water, access to fishing opportunities, wildlife viewing and a chance to just relax. One picnic area near the lower boat launch is open to leashed pets. Merrick also offers three reservable picnic shelters spread through the park.
The park playground is midway between the north and south campgrounds adjacent to the nature center shelter parking lot. The playground offers children a safe play environment including opportunities to climb, swing and explore.
Boating, canoeing and kayaking
Merrick State Park offers two boat landings which can accommodate most motorized launches. There are large parking lots available at both landings. A canoe launch adjacent to the lower boat landing affords easy access for canoeists and kayakers. The adjacent quiet river backwater sloughs offer an excellent opportunity to those visitors seeking a silent-sport water experience. Enjoy the sun, wildlife and wilderness of the river backwaters five minutes from the landing.
The Mississippi River is alive with large and smallmouth bass, bluegills, crappies and other species. Fishing licenses apply.
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.
Cross-country skiing is a favorite winter activity at Merrick. The natural snow surface of the trail system and undeveloped areas at the park are available to skiers who enjoy an off-trail experience. Snowshoeing offers visitors a quiet alternative. Enjoy the solitude and wildlife viewing opportunities along the river backwaters on a cold winter day. Snowshoe enthusiasts can access the park trail system or for a more individual experience strike out on their own to explore the back corners of the park.
The park offers excellent access to productive ice fishing areas along this section of river. The park does not monitor ice conditions on the river. Be extremely cautious of ice conditions at all times.
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