Marathon County Officials & Staff Go on a County Parks Tour

Written by Karyn Powers

Abundance: (according to Webster’s synonyms)

barrel, basketful, boatload, bucket, bunch, bundle, bushel, carload, chunk, deal, dozen, fistful, gobs, good deal, heap, hundred, loads, lot, mass, mess, mountain, much, multiplicity, myriad, oodles, pack, passel, peck, pile, plateful, plenitude, plentitude, plenty, pot, profusion, quantity, raft, reams, scads, sight, slew, spate, stack, store, ton, volume, wad, wealth, yard

By any definition, Marathon County is home to an abundance of quality public lands.

The Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department manages:


Last month, staff and members of the County Board — including those serving on the Park Commission and the Forestry and Recreation Committee — stepped out to explore some of our great local resources . . .

Eastbay Sports Complex


The Eastbay Sports Complex is one of the youngest jewels in the park system’s crown. At only 4 years old, this former superfund dump site has become 36 acres of the best all-turf soccer facilities in the state. Eighteen lush fields carpet the reclaimed land and support nightly league play and monthly tournaments. Soccer rules the tournament world with spring and fall tournaments sporting more than 125 teams from a four-state area.

In addition to soccer, the facility annually plays host to lacrosse and bike polo tournaments, as well as a Hmong cultural festival that draws more than 10,000 visitors to the complex each July.

Mission Lake Park

Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Director Jamie Polley (left in red) with Parks Tour participants at Mission Lake Park.

The next stop was Mission Lake Park in the town of Hatley. Mission Lake came into the County’s hands in 1967. The 93-acre property includes a reservable open shelter that can hold up to 75 people and two smaller shelters that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Mission Lake has a 5-mph speed limit, so it’s a great spot for fishing from a john-boat, kayak, or canoe.

Besides fishing, you can swim at the beach, toss horseshoes, play volleyball, walk the paved paths, or climb on the playground equipment.

Playground at Mission Lake Park.

Big Eau Pleine Park

The third stop on our County Parks Tour was Big Eau Pleine Park. The largest park in the County’s system, Big Eau Pleine Park sits on a 1,453-acre peninsula jutting out into the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir.

The majority of the park was gifted to the County in 1937 by Consolidated Water Power Company. It now includes two separate campgrounds with a total of 106 campsites, 12 miles of developed trails for hiking, biking, snow-biking, and horseback riding.

There’s even an 18-hole disc golf course tucked into the woods off the West Unit campgrounds parking lot.


After having lunch in the large enclosed reservable shelter (pictured below), the tour group took a “windshield tour” of the campgrounds and boat launch area.

Waterfront views can be enjoyed at the reservable shelter at Big Eau Pleine Park.

From Big Eau Pleine Park, the tour group crossed Marathon County to their final destination . . .

Nine-Mile County Forest Recreation Area

At 4,900 acres, Nine-Mile is not the biggest County Park. But that’s because it’s NOT a park!

It was designated a County Forest in 1967. Under State Forest Law, the property is open to hunting, trapping, and fishing — with designated trails for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, and snowmobiling.

Trail at Nine-Mile County Forest Recreation Area

As it’s 1 of 9 forestry units in Marathon County — from time to time, there are managed, sustainable timber harvests at Nine-Mile.

With all these user groups enjoying outdoor recreation,
Nine-Mile is an excellent example of compromise and cooperation.

The property is also a sport tourism destination for Marathon County and the State of Wisconsin. Spring, summer, and early fall, trails welcome a variety of competitors on mountain bikes or on foot. The largest race of the year is the international, 24-hour, 3,000-runner foot race: The Ragnar Relay (typically held in September).

In winter, Nine-Mile is a regional destination for cross-country skiing and even has a lighted trail for night skiing.

*  *  *

Marathon County is the biggest county in the state, so one day certainly wasn’t enough for our group to tour all of our many County Parks and forest lands.

After touring these four public lands and taking a quick group picture, it was time to head home.

Left to right: Pat Peckham; Sandi Cihlar; Jeff Johnson; Sara Guild; Arnie Schlie; Connie Conrad (at-large Park Commission member); *Tom Lovlien (County Forest Administrator); *Dan Fiorenza (Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Superintendent for Customer Service); Jean Maszk; Gary Gissleman; *Dave Patridge (Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Administrative Officer); John Durham; *Jamie Polley (Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Director); *Andy Simms (Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Operations Supervisor); *Greg Freix (Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Operations Superintendent).    * = Staff

In the days following the tour, County Board member Sandi Cihlar sent her thoughts to Department Director, Jamie Polley:

“Thank you, Jamie. It was a great day. Truly appreciate the time and effort you and your staff devoted to making the day so interesting and enjoyable.  I learned so much about the wonderful parks in my backyard!”

Park Commissioner-at-Large Connie Conrad also sent her regards:

 “Thank you for this great outing and the chance to appreciate the full scope of work produced by our Parks Department.”

As autumn settles in, perhaps it’s time to schedule your OWN County Parks Tour!

For ideas on how you can get out and enjoy our many local trails this fall and winter, feel free to contact the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department at 715-261-1550 or visit their webpage at

We’d appreciate if you’d also visit — and Like when you’re there — our Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Facebook page.

Hope to see you out there enjoying the beautiful parks and forests of Marathon County!

karyn_powersKaryn Powers

Recreation Superintendent  |  Wausau / Marathon County Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department 

Karyn Powers joined the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department in 1991. Prior to settling in Marathon County, she spent 5 years working for the Department of Defense in Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Services for the U.S. Navy in Iceland and the U.S. Army in South Korea. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Park and Recreation Administration and a master’s degree in Education. In addition to being the city/county Recreation Superintendent, she is a published poet and author. Karyn fell in love with Marathon County as a college senior when she interned here in 1979, then traveled halfway around the world to get back here as soon as was possible.  Email Karyn Powers.

You might also like…


Please email our Editorial Board with your comments, suggestions, and article ideas.

And if you spot a typo or an inaccuracy, please contact us so we can fix it. Thanks!