Entries to Win Afghan

Sign up to receive the Books Leaving Footprints Newsletter. Comes out occasionally. No spam. No list swapping. Just email me! jhyshark@gmail.com Previous gifts include a short story, a poem, and coupons. Add your name, and don't miss out!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Bad River - Day 336

  Today was defined by the Bad River. No, it hasn't been naughty, that's just its name. It's located entirely in Ashland County, although it drains parts of Bayfield and Iron Counties. For a relatively short river, it gets around.

Our first encounter with it is in the City of Mellen where a city trail parallels it. At that point it's a calm stream.

Mellen is a trail town. In fact, Mellen was a trail town before there were NCTA Trail Towns. Because the Chequamegon National Forest was the first to build North Country Trail (quite a while before the trail was even authorized), Mellen got involved too and the NCT has followed their city hike/bike trail forever. This is Mellen City Hall, a distinctive building.
Mellen City Hall

This tiny and adorable historic State Bank building has been on the trail forever. A picture of it appears in the earliest book about the trail, written by Wes Boyd.
Mellen State Bank

I could be mistaken, but when we were here before, I don't think the city trail went all the way to Copper Falls State Park. Now it does. And that's where the river gets interesting! The fault line for the Mid-Continental Rift runs through the park. The Bad River follows one of the fissures of the fault line.

Let me try to explain this picture. The Bad River runs from the bottom to the top of the picture. The river coming in from the right is Tyler Forks. It is falling into the Bad River at Brownstone Falls.

Here's a closeup of Brownstone Falls. There are a couple of things to note here. First of all, the red rocks. These are red sandstone- that sedimentary layer I've been talking about for days that the glacier scraped away. But here the rift fault split the rocks apart. Remember the Mellen bank building. Red sandstone, also called Brownstone. Yes, this is the building material so many city buildings were made of around 1900. But it didn't all come from here. The black volcanic rocks are still down at the bottom of the river channel.

The second thing to notice is the U-shaped channel left of the falls, and just left of the center of the picture. (with the big light spot in it) This was the original channel of the falls, but as the waterfall eroded upstream it encountered softer rock where it now flows. It changed course! Sometimes it will still overflow into that other channel. I think it was doing that when I was here before, but those pictures are not digital- thus not with me- so I can't check.

This view requires that you rotate the picture of the junction above to the right by a third. We are now standing above Brownstone Falls looking down on the top of it, and looking upstream along the Bad River (the channel that goes off the bottom of the upper picture).

The first thing to notice is how straight the Bad River is. That's where it runs in one of the fissures of the rift.
confluence Tyler Forks and Bad River

Now look back upstream on Tyler Forks. There are lots of beautiful falls along that river as well.
Tyler Forks

North, downstream of all this mad rushing, the trail continues through the park. A lot of this trail was new since I was here last time. There are also quite a few other geologic things to see in this park, but they aren't all on the trail, and we didn't have time to visit them all. But if you are a geology buff, this is a very cool place.

The trail mostly stays at the very top of the sedimentary layers. There were a few places where you could see down to the depths. Here the river is placid again because the valley widens out. Just a couple miles before the end of the day, we finally bid farewell to the Bad River.
Bad River valley

It flows to Lake Superior, and the wetlands where it enters the lake are a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. They are called the Bad River Sloughs. I'd like to see those some day.

Miles today: 16.1. Total miles so far: 3930.5

See Chequamegon East


Ellie said...

Beautiful scenery!

The Oceanside Animals said...

Lulu: "Bad river! No cookie! Sure is pretty, though ..."

Sharkbytes said...

Ellie- thanks

Lulu- I think you are referring to baddog.