If you’re looking to add a hidden Wisconsin destination to your vacation bucket list, Mellen is a must-visit location! Mellen is home to a community filled with rich history, one-of-a-kind sights at Copper Falls State Park, and many places to get out and explore the Northwoods such as through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Get ready to start your adventure with us and learn about Mellen now!
Mellen, the second oldest city in Ashland County, dates back to 1886 when the Wisconsin Central Railroad purchased a portion of Samuel O’Grady Bennett’s hometown. At that time he had named it Iron City and just two years later, it was renamed after William Solon Mellen, general manager of the Wisconsin Central Railroad. Many developments followed including the building of Mellen’s first school and at the time, the community recreation center of 1896.
Since 1976, this very building has been the Mellen Area Historical Museum displaying several exhibits representing the area’s rich past and present. To name a few, they have a display to remember the movie, Hemingway’s Adventures of a Young Man, shot right in Mellen! They also have railroad, logging tributes and artifacts spanning from World War I to the present day.
To keep learning more about Mellen’s expansive history, you will want to head over to the Legion Memorial Library, built to honor August Rohloff. Rohloff was a logger in the area who gave his legacy back to the community. This library’s goal is to provide resources for the community as well as for the visitors in the area. Legion Memorial Library created a little free library right nearby North Country Trail, so while you’re on the trails, swing by for a quick break!
Speaking of trails, have you heard which town was Wisconsin’s first Trail Town? You guessed it, Mellen! In 2013, the North Country Trail Association proudly named Mellen Wisconsin’s first Trail Town because the city connects Copper Falls State Park and the North Country Trail that weaves through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Mellen is also the gateway to Copper Falls State Park, arguably one of the most beautiful state parks in the state! Within the park, there are many trails you can choose from to see the breathtaking sights, such as Doughboy’s Nature Trail. This trail is 1.7 miles long and follows along the Bad River, Tyler Forks and through the most scenic views of the park. Doughboy’s Nature Trail is known for showcasing Copper Falls, Brownstone Falls, and the Tyler Forks cascades.
In the southern section of Copper Falls State Park, you can hop on the trail and hike Red Granite Falls Trail which has 2.5 miles of scenery including Loon Lake as well as the main attraction on the trail, Red Granite Falls. Make sure to keep an eye out across the river for an old rail line that once carried iron ore to the docks of Lake Superior in Ashland!
For year-round adventures, you will want to add the Waterfall Trail to your list of things to do! You can access the Waterfall Trail from the north end of the park all year long. Along the way, either by foot or by snowshoe, you can see the famous Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls.
If you haven't already, you will want to get out and explore through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest! Start by hiking the Morgan Falls & St. Peter’s Dome Trail. The trail to get to Morgan Falls is 1.2 miles total and will take you to see the falls and the natural beauty of the surrounding forest. The trail to St. Peter’s Dome is 3.6 miles in total. As you make your way, you will see remnants of the past such as an old stone quarry. Once you make it to the dome’s crest, you will be rewarded with amazing views of Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior. You will definitely want to keep your eyes peeled to see the Apostle Islands in the distance!
Another must-see when in Mellen, is the North Country Trail! This portion of the trail extends for more than 70 miles throughout the northern half of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and offers an amazing hiking experience for you or your crew to enjoy. It connects to Mellen’s very own Hike and Bike Trail along the Bad River for extensive views of the rustic Northwoods forest.
And when the snow falls, grab your skis and head to the Penokee Mountain Ski Trail, located in the snow belt of Lake Superior. This trail is a stacked loop system to offer slopes in everyone’s comfort zone! These slopes provide spectacular views of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the city of Mellen.
Mellen is a must-see destination filled with rich history that you can see on display from the museum to the library right in town. And while you’re visiting Wisconsin’s first Trail Town, of course you have to hit the trails scattered throughout Copper Falls State Park and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. But don’t just take it from me, see everything Mellen has to offer first-hand!
Get a deeper look at Mellen and all the city has to offer in a Discover Wisconsin original short, ‘The Connected Community of Mellen Wisconsin’ now:
*This article is brought to you with support from Enbridge.
Hailey Rose: Writer for Discover Mediaworks. A born & bred Wisconsinite with a love for fishing, hunting, and enjoying the great outdoors.