Description - Willow River State Park features two dams, two lakes, a trout stream, sand beach, prairie remnants and a nature center on 2,891 acres of rolling countryside. Comprised of prairie, forests, and river scenery, Willow River is one of Wisconsin's most scenic and most popular parks attracting more than 300,000 visitors each year. Four scenic overlooks provide spectacular views of the waterfalls and Willow River gorge. The views of Willow Falls become even more spectacular in the winter when drifts of ice and snow make the Willow River seem to appear out of nowhere. The constant flow of water from the falls and dam account for the abundant wildlife found at the park. During the winter, the park becomes the domain of the deer, chickadee, cardinal, red fox, bald eagle and crow.
- Located five miles northeast of Hudson on County Road A, Willow River State Park has a campground, a boat launch, and a 400-foot swimming beach and picnic area centered on 172-acre Little Falls Lake. The lake prohibits motors thus creating a wonderful environment for family canoe trips and sailing pleasure. Parking for 20 vehicles, several picnic tables and restrooms are available at the small launch. Anglers enjoy the placid waters harvesting walleye, pike, largemouth bass, and pan fish. The northern area of the lake is known for its wildlife sightings. Fly fishing is enjoyed along the Lower Willow stream. Swimming is a very popular Willow River recreation. The beach is located on the south side of Little Falls Lake. Sunbathing, picnicking, and field games dominate the open space.
The park's nature center is a haven for environmental education. Interesting displays and exhibits tell about the region's natural and cultural history. The center is open all year with nature programs held during the summer months. Ask for a list of scheduled events at the park office or nature center. Also, why not peruse the park's bird check list identifying 220 species noted within the park. Wildlife and wildflower lists are available too. A gift shop is located inside the center. Just outside the center is a wildflower garden where visitors can identify 20 common species including blazing star, New England aster, butterfly weed, and black-eyed Susan.
Hiking at Willow River affords 13 miles of trails that vary in difficulty. The most popular hiking trail destination is the Willow Falls. This trail affords inline skating and biking opportunities. Hidden Ponds Nature Trail is a wonderful place to harvest blackberries and Trout Brook Trail is great for viewing Willow Falls from three different overlooks.
Willow River State Park has a mostly shady campground with 72 tent or RV sites, flush toilets, and showers, plus six RV-only sites. A group camp near Mound Pond accommodates 150 people through advance registration. Camping reservations are available online or by calling a toll-free reservation number. Contact information is listed below.
When winter arrives the recreation at Willow River continues on two miles of hard packed trails. They are located on the north side of the river available for pet owners and for activities like snowshoeing, dogsledding, and hiking. The park's nine miles of cross-country ski trails on the south side of the river are groomed and tracked by volunteers for skate and traditional stride style skiing. The nature center classroom is opened for use as a warming house from 9 AM to 4 PM on winter Saturdays and Sundays. Other winter activities include sledding, ice fishing or winter camping.
Located immediately south of the park is Wisconsin Rustic Road 13, a three-mile scenic drive through heavily wooded hilly terrain.
Recreation - Recreations enjoyed at Willow River State Park include camping, group camping, picnicking, sailing, canoeing, nature study, fishing, hiking, biking, inline skating, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and sledding.
Climate - Northwest Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. Great Lakes Michigan and Superior tend to make summers cooler and winters milder close to shore. January's average temperature is in the single digits F (-teens C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F for several days (32 degrees C). Nighttime summer temperatures occasionally dip below freezing. The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 32-34". Annual snowfalls in the Northwest Region have a wide range; the southern areas may receive 20" while the northern areas may receive in excess of 200". Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.
Willow River State Park is located five miles northeast of Hudson on County Road A.
Directions from Hudson, WI: Take Hwy. 35 to County A. Turn north on Trout Brook Road.