This amazing waterfall/rapids hike is only 25 minutes East of Wausau and has such an awesome waterfall view and hike! It’s only 190 acres but it packs a punch. The hikes offer great views of the river and have lots of fun rocks to keep things fun and interesting. There is a campground if you’d like to stay and play. The beach is small but sufficient. There is a small playground as well but usually my kids have more fun playing on the natural features. Don’t miss this beautiful Wisconsin gem!
The Dells of Eau Claire has a beautiful set of waterfalls! There is a large sweeping stone stairway leading from the parking area down to a grand view of the falls. You can get an up close look as long as you are sure footed! The trails lead right down to the rocks with the water rushing around them.
The water level changes but it is always an impressive sight regardless of the season. Even in winter the falls are beautiful as they don’t all ice up even in the coldest parts of the season.
There is a lot of fun rocks to climb and jump on. This is especially true down river on the south side. I have great memories jumping rocks trying to get across various areas when I was a kid. We often see people swimming in and around the falls but take care! There are strong undercurrents and there have been fatalities in the past.
To get a full view I recommend taking an approximately one mile loop down stream from the main falls and the back up. Head west, down stream, from the waterfall on either side and follow the river. At the half way point there is a beautiful sturdy pedestrian bridge (marked the High Bridge on the map) to take you across the river. The bridge you take to get back to the original side is the car bridge on County Y and there is a wide sidewalk that crosses the bridge which makes it feels less daunting.
This hike has some ups and downs without gaining or loosing any significant height. There are TONS of rocky areas for the adventurous to climb and play on. It is such a fun hike for kids. There are several areas where the trails is immediately adjacent to the river.
The ice age trails covers part of the above loop. It runs approximately 2.5 miles on the South side of th river West of the High Bridge and on the North side of the river on th East side of the high bridge along th rapids.
If you are ready for some longer hikes, cross County Y and there is a trail on both sides of the bridge that heads upstream. You can see the beach area and cross damn/walking bridge. on this side. There is a smattering of trails that loop around this 190 acre park. On the south side of the river there is a lot of hemlock trees which smell wonderful and have a peaceful vibe.
The playground is simple and fun. There are several swings and a small climbing structure. My kiddos will spend some time there but usually they have more fun on the rocky trails and watching the water. There is a vault toilet near the playgrounds.
The Dells of Eau Claire has 28 campsites, 16 of the sites have electricity. The campsites have gravel camp areas. There is no flush toilets or showers-just vault toilets. They sell firewood at the campsite right next to the self registration station. Each site includes a picnic stable and a fire ring with a grill. There is a water pump, recycling station, and dumpster available. The campground is east of county Y, the large road which cuts through the park. The beach area and some hiking is on the east side. Most of waterfalls are on the west side. Click here to make reservations for camping. It is open May through October.
There is also a group campsite on the northwest part of the park. It is a large grassy area with picnic tables and a vault toilet. There is a path from the group campground to the trails connecting to the falls. It is a fair walk from the group campground to the swimming area.
There is a small swimming beach a short walk on a wooded trail from the campground. It is sandy and a great place for some sandy play or splashing around. There isn’t a ton of space to lay out on the sand but there is a large grassy area which provides plenty of space for relaxing or playing a game of frisbee. This has scattered grilling areas as well. There is a large parking area adjacent to the beach area as well. There is a vault toilet available.
Every time I go to this park, which is at least a handful of times every year, we see dogs enjoying the trails. Like all parks, you are asked to keep dogs on a leash and clean up after them. Dogs are not allowed at the beach or picnic areas. Keep a close eye on your pets near the waterfalls, a pup falling in at the wrong place could be pretty hazardous.
If you have waders the area south of the falls can be fun to fish. It is shallow and there are lots of fish friendly areas. It can be hard to fish from the shore due to all the branches reaching out over the river.
The Dells of Eau Claire are out in the country! There are several country bar and grills close by. I can’t vouch for any personally but they all seem to have great reviews. Check out Phill’s Round 2 Bar and Grill, Melody Mill, or the Clubhouse Bar and Grill. (None of these places had official websites as they are old fashioned small town bar and grills). If you want a bigger selection of restaurants check out my post on Rib Mountain State Park with a list of local Wausau favorites for food and activities at the bottom. Rib Mountain State Park is only 30 minutes away and another beautiful park-this one with a lot more elevation! The center of Wausau is only 25 minutes southwest of the Dells of Eau Claire and has plenty of options for all tastes.
The Dells of Eau Claire is a park I always find myself coming back to. The falls are beautiful and everyone can find something to appreciate. I come with my family over and over and it’s a place we bring out of town visitors. My Nana would come here into her 80’s (she was able to do the stairs though she was exceptionally healthy) and my toddlers love to play there. I visit to enjoy walking in he water in the summer, to enjoy the falls in the fall, and brave the snow in the winter. Perhaps my favorite time is the spring when the river is roaring! Don’t miss this amazing park.