Hike to Lower Potato Falls

1 miles -100 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Cameron Cech

This rather secluded spot is often regarded as the most scenic waterfall in Wisconsin. It is a 10-minute drive from Copper Falls State Park and is much less crowded (often you will be alone). It also allows visitors to explore the falls without any sort of barriers - so go stand underneath the falls if you would like (at your own risk).

Coming into the park off Hwy 169 in Gurney, WI, you will turn West onto Falls Rd. It is a gravel road that ends at a circular parking lot, complete with a pit toilet, picnic area, viewing areas, and trailheads.

Starting at the trailhead labeled "Lower Potato Falls", you will descend a couple hundred stairs. Once at the bottom, you will still be above the river and there will be several small paths leading down to the river as you walk up and down the embankment. Choose the one that looks the easiest (or the hardest if that's how you role) and get down to the level of the river. Once to the river, you will notice that you cannot see any waterfall - it is upstream around a hairpin turn. Unfortunately, the side of the river that you came down on turns into a sheer face - you will need to cross the river.

This is where the adventure really starts and depending on how high the water is, it may really get the adrenaline pumping. Pro Tip: Bring waders, especially if it is cold AND use some sort of hiking stick or branch to help balance while crossing the river, planting the stick on the downstream side of you. If this is your first time crossing a river, it is easiest if you shuffle your feet along the bottom, don't take large steps as this will make you much less balanced.

Once you cross the river, you are just about there. Go upstream a little further along the embankment/hopping from rock-to-rock and you will soon be overcome by the thunderous crashing of the falls.

If you take the trailhead at the parking lot toward Upper Potato Falls, you can carefully wade downstream through some (usually) shallow cascades to the top of Lower Potato Falls as well.

Enjoy the seclusion and keep an eye out for wildlife.

Lastly, while this is a beautiful area to explore, it is done so at your own risk. If you feel you cannot safely cross the river or your intuition tells you the water is too high (especially in the spring), you may want to view the falls from the observation deck near the parking lot and save the exploration for your next visit.

Phone service is spotty at best.

Read More


Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

🥈 Contributor

about 3 years ago

Nice and close to the falls

Built up trails with observation decks and stairs. You can really get close to the falls for some good pictures. Lots of stairs, icy this time of year.

Super Cool!

What an amazing hike. Shorter but you can really experience the river.

🥇Top Contributor

almost 4 years ago

Go In Winter!

Explored this near end of winter, makes for a really pretty scene. Bring snowshoes and hike the lower path!

Nice Falls!

There are several different trails you can take to get different vantage points of the falls. The trail to be upper falls has a nice viewing deck and you can easily scramble down to water to feel the spray on your face. The geology of the area is pretty spectacular as well with several outcrops exposed along the river. The trail to the lower falls is a nice trek through the woods with a lot of stairs. The view is not as great as the upper falls trail. It is a fairly easy hike with beautiful views! A must see!

Nice article ruined by the photography

The point of long exposure with flowing water is to retain the shape of the water movement, not to replace it with fog...

Stay Nearby

Marengo, Wisconsin

Mineral Lake

Overview We apologize, this campground is currently closed. Recreation Boating, swimming and fishing are popular activities among visitors. A boat ramp to the lake is provided off of Forest Servic...

Marengo, Wisconsin

Lake Three

Overview We apologize, this campground is currently closed. Recreation The lake is home to musky, bass and pan fish and offers an ideal spot to kayak, canoe, swim or enjoy a leisurely boat ride. ...

Marengo, Wisconsin

Beaver Lake

Overview Beaver Lake Campground is a small, secluded, family-friendly campground located on the shores of its namesake lake. The waterfront sites provide spectacular scenic views of the area and it...

Marengo, Wisconsin


Overview Namekagon campground is a family-friendly campground that runs alongside its namesake lake, at the headwaters of the Namekagon River. It is the perfect spot to kayak, canoe, jet ski, swim ...

Nearby Adventures

  • Explore Upper Potato Falls

    You will turn off of Hwy 169 onto a gravel road, follow the road all the way to the end for the trail head. Please drive respectfully as people live on this road. Once you park, you will see multiple trails down to the river. Find the sign for Upp...

    1 miles 100 ft gain

  • Hike to Copper Falls

    Coming into the park on Hwy 169, you will turn west/northwest into the park entrance. After passing the Ranger's Station you will follow the road (passing camp areas and showers along the way) all the way to the main parking lot near a concessions...

    2 miles 85 ft gain

  • Hike to Superior Falls

    Superior Falls sits right next to the Superior River, near the northern terminus of the Montreal River. The parking area for the falls is rather large, and there are porta-potties directly next to the parking area.  To see the lower region of the ...

    0.5 miles -100 ft gain

  • Hike to Saxon Falls

    An unusual hike to see the falls, Saxon Falls sits next to a flowage station. On foot, follow the short, wooded hiking trail to the east of the parking area, which leads to the overlook location. For better viewing, continue down the path. The fal...

    0.5 miles