...the UP is it! Anyone who has spent any time on the trails in the Upper Peninsula realizes how water is such a huge part of the geography here. Just looking at a map shows you that the three largest Great lakes wash its shorelines. Inland the landscape is a literal maze of swamps, lakes and rivers. In the winter (November-April) the peninsula is literally covered in the water, albeit in its frozen form, to a depth of up to six feet! Never in the UP are you far from water. Therefore I think it more than appropriate to include a page on the Upper Peninsulas hidden gems, its waterfalls.
Numerous guidebooks have been written about the waterfalls of the Upper Peninsula. The one I find most thorough and useful is Laurie Penrose's A Guide to 199 Michigan Waterfalls. The books title is a bit deceiving however. The UP is home to all but one of Michigans named waterfalls. Thus, the book should really be called "A Guide to 198 Upper Peninsula Waterfalls and 1 from Lower Michigan." Also, as you already know, Michigan is not the most mountainous of states. The Upper Peninsula is plenty rugged, mind you, but the local topography does not allow for 200' tall cascades. Only a handful of waterfalls in the UP top out higher than 100' with most in the 25-50' range. I've tried to eliminate those from the book which are really in essence just rapids and focus on those which could be traditionally called "falls."
I hope you enjoy looking around. Waterfall hunting in the UP is one of my favorite outdoor pasttimes and really should be on the itenerary for anyone visiting Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The Eastern UP...
Due to its generally flat terrain the eastern UP does not boast many large waterfalls. The two falls it does contain, however, are the largest in Michigan...
Located a few miles downstream from the Upper Falls. The river here is split by a large island with cascades on either side. You can get a distant view from the shore or rent a row boat to get out to the island.
Alger County is home to one of the greatest concentrations of falls in the UP. Most lie within a dozen miles of the lakeshore along the edge of an escarpment that runs the length of the county. Some of the most beautiful lie within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore itself entirely within Alger County...
One of my personal favorites. They are located in a State Park bearing their name about 3 miles north of M-94 at Sundell. It begins as an unimposing 3 foot wide drop then widens in a shimmering white cascade to the base 100 feet below. A wood chip lined 1/2 mile path leads downhill to the falls.
Adjacent to Tannery Falls, this falls is reached via the same trailhead off H-58. The sign at the trailhead calls this Twin Falls, it looks like during wet weather there is another falls to the left of these but it was not running when I visited.
Accessible by USFS-2276 north of Chatham and then a wide 3/4 mile long path. The dark mossy cliff which the falls drop over splits the falls in two. The setting is serene. The white cascade of the falls contrasts with the moss-covered rocks and the dark surrounding forest.
Located just up the road (USFS-2276) from Rock River Falls. With a narrow 4-wheel drive vehicle you can almost drive right to this falls. I would suggest visiting them during a wet time of year or right after the snowmelt however. When we visited in early October the water flowing over the falls was barely able to wash the leaves from its path on the face of the cliff.
These falls are LOUD, although strangly enough, due to the terrain it is all but muffled until about the last bend in the trail. Then the sound hits you. About 300 yards down M-94 from its intersection with M-28 is the parking area for the falls. Officially this is a State Park, containing just the falls and the trail to them.
These falls are located about 100 yards from an old camping area along US-41, just north of Trenary. The woodchip-lined path brings you down to the rocky banks of the Whitefish River where the falls are found.
The height and size of these falls is totally unexpected. A wide, mostly level path leads from the Chapel Parking Area 1.5 miles along the top of the escarpment to two veiwing platforms. You may want to pack a lunch as the view of the falls and distant Lake Superior is magnificent.
These falls are accessible by walking upstream along the creek that passes under the road near the entrance to the Chapel Falls Parking Area. Its a short but difficult hike, you have to stay along the bottom of the ravine to get a decent view of the falls. You can see it from above but the view is somewhat limited.
From the small, bubbling creek at your feet you would not imagine that it came from the large, loud foaming mass just upstream. The trail to the falls begins just off H-58, west of Grand Marais. It leads 1/4 mile down into the steep, narrow valley in which the falls is located.
A brisk three mile walk from the Beaver Lake Parking Area brings you to where Spray Creek emties into Lake Superior...over a 70' cliff. From the trail, although you are only 10 feet from the edge of the cliff, the thick brush prevents any view. The best view of the falls is from a sandy outcrop just north.
Baraga County is home to Michigan's highest peak, Mt. Arvon, as well as the westernmost sections of the Huron Mountains. Many of the waterfalls in this county cut through narrow gorges as they make their way towrds the big lake...
A somewhat remote waterfall in the north-western Huron Mountains. They can be viewed from Big Eric's Campground east of Skanee. The falls are very powerful as the creek here is very broad. A great place to pitch a tent and enjoy the remote U.P. backwoods.
Located a few miles upstream from Slate River Falls, this waterfall is all but unnoticed. The river here is almost continuously descending both up and downstream. This is a fairly easy one to get to considering how remote it is.
A 1/4 mile walk from Canyon Falls Roadside Park on US-41. The falls drop the Sturgeon River into the "Grand Canyon of the U.P." The canyon and trail continue downstream for another 1/2 mile past two more pretty cascades.
The vertical drop may not look impressive on paper but standing in front of them these falls are immense. Almost as far as you can see the river is a constant torrent. The individual drops are too numerous to count. A bench on the bluff overlooking the falls invites you to stay for a while and allow yourself to take it all in.
These falls, just upstream of Power House Falls off Power Dam Road, is the beginning of a turbulent 2 miles before the Falls River empties into Lake Superior. No less than five more named falls lie between here and the big lake.
Tucked away behind an old power house building about 1/2 mile from Power Dam Road are these beautiful falls. The twin sheets of water almost seem out of place between the forest and crumbling concrete.
These falls are located just north of L'anse at a DNR access site. Located in a narrow gorge the falls may resemble a large rapids at high water. These falls give you a sense of remoteness due to the thick surrounding forest and bare rock.
Located east of Skanee in the vicinity of Big Eric's & Big Falls.
Gogebic County is the waterfall capitol of Michigan. By my list 22 falls lie within its boundaries. Of these most are concentrated within Porcupine Mountains State Park as well as the nearby Black River. The county has a good mix of easily accessible falls as well as those which are miles from the nearest roadway...
You may not see this falls if you're not looking for it. A thick canopy of trees surrounds the falls as you pass it along the Big Carp River Trail. A true gem of the Porkies backcountry, Shining Cloud is 7 miles from the nearest trailhead.
The highest and (in my opinion) prettiest of the falls on Hungarian Creek. There are three small unnamed falls just upstream along with the larger Upper Hungarian Falls. Check out the Keweenaw Waterfalls page for directions.
A nice falls just east of Hancock on a tiny creek that can be somewhat seasonal. You can spend quite a bit of time here scrambling around following the creek which sometimes disappears beneath the rocks.
One word describes Sturgeon Falls best, powerful. The wide Sturgeon River is compressed into a narrow gorge maybe 6 feet wide causing the water to thunder by your feet at an amazing rate of speed. These falls are quite intimidating to stand near, so great is the force at your feet. After about 5 to 10 yards the water explodes out the end of the chute dropping 30 feet into a pool below.
From Upper Hungarian Falls Hungarian Creek begins a tumultuous mile-long descent. Just downstream there are three unnamed falls as well as the larger Lower Hungarian Falls, about a mile away. Check out the Keweenaw Waterfalls page for directions.
Located near Twin Lakes State Park south of Houghton.
***A beautiful companion page to this one, Keweenaw Waterfalls, has some wonderful pictures and additional info on the falls in Houghton County.***
The tip top of Michigan is one of the most mountainous areas in the state. High hills and ridges rise nearly a thousand feet above the surrounding waters of Lake Superior. Due to the narrowness of the peninsula the rivers here are not generally large but it still has a number of nice falls none-the-less...
Haven Falls is located in a nice little park along the highway in Lac La Belle. The falls can be quite small in periods of dry weather, as they were when I visited. A steep trail follows the creek upstream.
This is somewhat of a seasonal waterfall. During spring snowmelt I'm sure this falls would be spectacular as it drops into the deep gorge surrounding it, but when I visited in July it was barely a trickle.
The falls on the Montreal River are the most spectacular in the Keweenaw, and possibly the most challenging to get to. A rocky, rutted trail road leads a couple miles east from Bete Grise to the trailhead at which point the falls are an additional 1.5 mile walk along the rugged Lake Superior shore. Check out the Keweenaw Waterfalls page for additional info and pics.
Just west of where the west end of Brockway Mountain Drive meets M-26 Silver Creek passes beneath the highway. Between the highway and the big lake are Silver River Falls. A nice trail follows the stream as it makes its gradual tumble towards Lake Superior.
***A beautiful companion page to this one, Keweenaw Waterfalls, has some wonderful pictures and additional info on the falls in Keweenaw County.***
Marquette County is the largest in Michigan. It's also arguably the most rugged and inaccessible. Precious few roads penetrate into its 1900 square mile interior. Many of the falls here are within the Huron Mountains, smack dab in the middle if this roadless track. You'll need a good map, good boots, and a bit of patience to find these falls...
This is one of my favorite falls. It is so secluded that some locals can't tell you exactly where it is. However, if you locate the right road you will follow a wide sandy path down a steep hill to the falls. Fallen logs allow you to cross the river in front of the main falls and climb up to find a creek that falls continuously for 1/4 mile upstream.
These falls are easily accessed from an old park that used to surround them. The most unique thing about these falls is how incredibly dark its waters are. The falls are almost a golden color and produce large amounts of foam at their base. It almost looks like a giant pool of Coca-Cola.
The trail to Carp River Falls passes by Morgan Creek Falls and parallels a beautiful 1/2 mile section of the Carp River. You may get confused as to the exact location of the falls as numerous small cascades are located along this section of river.
This falls is located in a huge boulder-strewn gorge. You may need to do some careful scrambling to get a clear view of these falls and you may get distracted by the huge rock walls surrounding you. This is a truly spectacular setting.
I tried finding these falls a couple of times but was unsuccessful. This is reported to be a very beautiful falls but I would recommend getting directions from the local DNR office in Ishpeming before venturing out. Located north of Lake Michigamme.
I suggest getting a good map and perhaps find a local to point you in the right direction before trying to bushwhack your way to these simple but beautiful falls. We spent the good part of an afternoon following the vague directions we had without a map.
These falls are neatly tucked into a deep gorge that appears almost out of nowhere after the 2 1/2 mile mostly level walk through the thick forest. The trail begins from the parking area near where the Little Garlic River passes beneath County Road 550.
Amazingly, the largest cascade on Morgan Creek has no name. The loud, white cascade contrasts with the dark, mossy stone and the deep surrounding forest. This falls would have to be my favorite in the Marquette area.
After visiting this wild falls, hidden deep within the Huron Mountains, we found out it was on Private Property...though we didn't see any postings. Therefore please check land ownership before trying to visit them. It may be just as well though, due to the fact that the maze of logging roads in the area make them a nightmare to find.
These falls are very unique. The main drop lies at the end of a narrow gorge that runs a good 1/4 mile upstream. While you can view these falls from the road, get out and follow the creek upstream. You will find a different, unique, and beautiful cascade at each turn.
You can hear these falls from where County Road 565 crosses Schweitzer Creek. Shortly after crossing you'll have to do some bushwhacking upstream to view the falls. You won't be dissappointed. The sections all have a unique and independant look.
These falls are unique in that the slant of the rock slab it slides down presses the river under the rock outcrop you view it from. Watch your step while viewing these falls...the calm, black water at their base looks plenty deep.
If you can find this falls, you won't be disappointed. They are located along the Yellow Dog River about midway between County Roads 510 & 550. As the Yellow Dog River drops over these rocky ledges it is compressed to less than 10 feet wide creating a powerful sight.
A number of the falls in Ontonagon County are located within Porcupine Mountians State Park which, consequently, has the most varied terrain in the county. There are a couple notible exceptions however...
An impressive falls protected as a State Scenic Site. Located just downstream of where M-28 crosses the Ontonagon River. A new observation platform only allows views from above but go ahead, jump the fence...the best views are from the base. Don't miss this one if you're in the area!
One of the most spectacular falls in the UP. Protected as a State Scenic Site a mile long trail leads from the road along the rushing river to the base of the falls. The waterfall is a wide one, nearly 100' wide, and during the spring snowmelt it's power is staggering. This one should be near the top of anyone's list of falls to visit in the UP.
Located along the North Country Trail, east off M-45 north of Bruce Crossing.
Thos falls is formed by the redirection of the river over a large cliff by a nearby dam. Not completely natural but its impressive size makes it worth a visit!
The Southern UP...
Though its interior can be quite rugged, the Southern UP (aka. Delta, Dickinson, Iron, and Menominee Counties) has a noticeable lack of waterfalls. This is due to the fact that, while rocky, the terrain is generally flat. Most of the falls here are little more than high rapids but I include them here anyway because they are still some of the best sights this regoin has to offer...