If you enjoy the outdoors and watching nature, there is a state park, a state forest and a federal wildlife refuge within a half-hour drive of Brambleberry B&B. Enjoy a spectacular view of the Mississippi River, observe wildlife and experience nature at its finest.
Perrot State Park
Perrot State Park, where the Trempealeau River meets the Mississippi River, has 1,270 acres of diverse ecosystems. The river bank and surrounding wetlands provide wonderful habitat for the many migratory birds that travel through this area twice a year. Hardwood forests with mature black walnut, oak, and hickory are home to many animals, birds, and woodland wildflowers. Unique to southwestern Wisconsin and Perrot are the goat prairies perched high on the bluffs.
Native American tribes have lived here for centuries: Archaic, Early Woodland, Hopewellian, and Effigy Mound cultures were some of the earliest residents. Burial mounds can be seen throughout the park and displays in the Nature Center present information about these early cultures.
French Fur trader Nicholas Perrot, for whom the park is named, spent the winter of 1686 here. Years later, in 1731, a French fort was built on the site of Perrot’s winter camp.
Perrot State Park was established in 1918 when John Latsch donated 900 acres at the confluence of the Mississippi and Trempealeau rivers to the people of the State of Wisconsin. The park was officially dedicated in 1927. Many of the stone buildings and trails were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Camp Perrot was active from 1935 to 1937. Remnants of the camp can still be found near the park headquarters.
Things to Do
Perrot State Park has 12.5 miles of hiking trails and 9 miles of cross-country ski trails.
There is a boat landing on the Trempealeau River which has access to Trempealeau Bay and the Mississippi River under a railroad bridge.
A 2-mile canoe trail winds through Trempealeau Bay. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent at the park.
The Nature Center has displays created by the Mississippi Valley Archeological Center [exit DNR] about the Native American cultures that have lived here. Naturalist programs may be offered in the summer.
There is direct bicycle access from the campground to the Great River State Trail.
Deer hunting with muzzleloaders is allowed in season in parts of the park with a special permit and under special rules.
Black River State Forest
Established in 1957, the Black River State Forest encompasses approximately 68,000 acres of public land in Jackson County.
The area's geology helps make the Black River State Forest unique among the state forests. The property lies at the edge of the glaciated central plains, east of the "driftless" area of Wisconsin. Hiking to the top of Castle Mound provides views of the former bed of glacial Lake Wisconsin, as well as the unglaciated buttes, sandstone hills and castellated bluffs that dot the vast forest landscape.
The Black River State Forest offers many recreational opportunities, including hiking, skiing and ATV riding. But the Department of Natural Resources also manages this property to meet a host of other objectives, including maintenance of wildlife habitat, native biological diversity, soil and water quality, aesthetics and timber production.
The Black River State Forest is also home to the Karner blue butterfly, which in was listed as a federal endangered species. Although rare nationwide, this butterfly is relatively common in central and northwestern Wisconsin, especially where pine barrens, oak savannas, and mowed corridors support growth of wild lupine, the only food of the Karner blue caterpillar. With its sandy soils and wild lupine populations, all of the Black River State Forest falls into the Karner blue's documented range.
Black River State Forest map
Black River State Forest hiking, biking and skiing trails
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
Young black terns sit on their floating nest, a great blue heron gracefully flies over the wetland, a gentle breeze blows across the sand prairie, and a wood duck finds shelter in the bottomland forest. Welcome to Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge.
This 6,226-acre Refuge lies within the Mississippi flyway, along the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin. It is an isolated backwater, cut off from the Mississippi and Trempealeau rivers by dikes, providing needed resting and feeding areas for waterfowl and other birds.
The Refuge is situated in a unique geological formation known as the driftless area. Thousands of years ago, glaciers surrounded but did not pass over the land. Blown into mounds, sand and silt from melting glaciers formed the rolling sand prairies of the Refuge.
Wetlands are a prominent feature. Before the railroads arrived and the locks and dams were built, the lands within the Refuge were part of the Mississippi River. As such, these backwaters experienced floods and droughts. Today, using dikes and control structures, managers can mimic this natural cycle by lowering the water to expose mudflats and allow plants to germinate. Migratory waterfowl and marsh birds benefit.
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
Getting There . . .
From Winona, MN: Take Rt. 43 across the Mississippi River into Wisconsin. Turn right onto Rt. 54 east. Travel 5.7 miles, and take a right onto West Prairie Road. Refuge entrance is on the right after about one mile. From LaCrosse, WI: Take Rt. 53 north to Rt. 54 west. Follow 54 west to Centerville and continue 3.1 miles to West Prairie Road. Turn left on West Prairie Road and drive one mile to Refuge entrance.
Wazee Lake is a Jackson County park recognized as the deepest inland lake in the State of Wisconsin with a maximum depth of 355 feet.
Along with scuba diving, other activities exist on site for additional recreational enjoyment. Many miles of hiking and gravel surfaced bicycle trails wind through a mosaic of prairie and forests. Several scenic overlooks are currently under construction as well as improved picnic and sanitary facilities. Construction of a large beach and boat launch complex was completed in 1996.