If nature lovers are looking for the opportunity to enjoy river activities, hike trails through tall trees, or view wildlife in their natural habitat, Brunet State Park Island is the place to stop in Cornell, Wisconsin.
On the Chippewa and Fisher rivers, the state park is defined by “1,300 acres of scenic beauty and recreational opportunity,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
These acres are home to a great deal of wildlife, including foxes, porcupines, eagles, otters, muskrats, and more, according to DNR listings.
Walking or driving through the park also allows viewers to spot deer, which like to munch on food sources in public, including near the ball diamond.
The land is also the place to go for training in nature, as the possibilities offered include, but are not limited to, kayaking, hiking, swimming, canoeing and winter activities.
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“The tranquil lagoons and channels formed during the last ice age are excellent for canoeing and wildlife viewing,” the DNR explained.
Canoes and kayaks are available for rent in the park.
There are a wealth of hiking opportunities, including a nature trail packed with educational information, trails that allow for views of the river, and trails that wind through the park’s immense greenery – including a pine plantation red, according to the DNR.
The park also has a hiking and biking link connecting it to the Old Abe State Trail, which runs from Cornell to Chippewa Falls.
Although the majority of trails are on the island, visitors can also hike the mainland portion of the state park.
Some other activities to pass the time and enjoy the beauty of the state park include fishing, hunting, boating, picnicking, and camping. There is also a beach and a playground.
Camping in particular is a treat in the park, shared DNR, as more than half of the campsites have direct water access.
Residents and visitors to the area have enjoyed the park for many decades, as the island portion of the park was donated to the state in 1936 by the Northern States Power Company, according to the DNR.
The log shelter that visitors can now enjoy was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938, according to the DNR. The structure was updated in 2003.
The park received its name in 1940, after being dedicated in honor of the historical figure of the region, Jean Brunet, who was born in France in 1791 before going to America in 1818.
“Brunet was directly responsible for establishing the first dam and sawmill at Chippewa Falls in 1836 and later served as the first judge and legislator in the Chippewa Falls area,” the DNR explained. “Brunet designed and built the original timber dam that survived flooding on the Chippewa for 60 years and was still strong when removed to make way for the current structure in 1911.”
Brunet is also honored in other ways in the area, as a historical marker at the location of his trading post is located south of Cornell on State Highway 178.
Since the park was dedicated, it has fallen on hard times.
The DNR shared in 1977, a tornado touched down on the island.
The DNR said the tornado “leveled an 18-acre patch of hemlock trees in the center of the island and today you can see birch trees in the area that once had huge hemlock trees.”
The damage hasn’t spoiled the beauty of the park though, as it’s still more than ready to provide people with great views and activities.
The park – filled with its many possibilities – is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., allowing for activities in all weathers.
IN PHOTOS AND VIDEOS: Brunet Island State Park