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River Bend Trail: The Latest Attraction to the City of Parks

The progressive city of Merrill offers a lot to vacationing families. The attractions include the historic and beautiful downtown courthouse, its many parks (including Council Grounds State Park just north of the city), trout fishing on area streams, a summertime rodeo, and hiking and biking trails.

Among those hiking and biking trails is the River Bend Trail, which mostly follows the Wisconsin River on its north banks.

The River District Development Foundation spearheaded the trail development. It raised over $1 million to initially purchase and develop over 1.25 miles of old railroad corridor from Canadian National.

Paving began in 2014 and is continuing today with the recent paved addition from Cooper Street to Pine Ridge Avenue. To date, the trail covers almost 7 miles. The latest addition allows the River Bend Trail to connect Council Grounds State Park/Merrill Area Recreation Complex to the Pine Ridge Shopping Area.

Trail users will see the renovated Nicklaus Bridge over the confluence of the Prairie and Wisconsin rivers, scenic rest areas with benches, interpretive education panels, wayfinding signs, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, bike stations, and access to the beautiful Wisconsin River that hasn’t been possible for over 100 years.

Several historical markers denote the history of the City of Parks from its start as a logging settlement called Jenny Bull Fall. One panel shows with pictures the flood of 1912, caused by a rainstorm that dumped 15 inches of rain over 28 hours! The flood took out the dam and caused the powerhouse to shut down.

The trail can be accessed from the main trailhead located at the end of South Park Street, from the east at the corners of Cooper and Logan streets, from Polk Street behind Thorogood Outlet by Weinbrenner Shoe Company, and from the west by the bridge on West Main Street near Cottage Street.  Parking is available at the trailhead and by Thorogood Outlet by Weinbrenner Shoe Company. Dogs are allowed, and dog waste dump stations are provided on the trail.


Photo from riverbendtrail.org.

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