Hike to Lower Potato Falls
Wisconsin › Lower Potato Falls Trailhead
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.
- Waders (or during the summer, a swimsuit and water shoes)
- Drinking Water (or water filter)
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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!
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