Sunday, January 29, 2012

Falls of the Presque Isle River (Manabezho, Manido, Nawadha) - Porcupine Mountains, Michigan

Porcupine Mountains State Park
Ontonagon County, MI

Some of the most spectacular falls in Michigan can be found on the Western end of the Porcupine Mountains State Park. The four falls within the park boundary on the Presque Isle River showcase different heights, formations and landmarks as the river makes its way to Lake Superior. In a little over and hour you can complete a hiking loop with great views of all four falls - or if you are pressed for time, Manido and Manabezho Falls are both five minutes away from the parking lot.

First off, there is Manido Falls:
From Manido Falls, following the west bank of the river to the north, the mighty Manabezho Falls comes into view, with a drop that almost rivals Tahquamenon Falls.

From Manabezho Falls, the boardwalk path continues almost to Lake Superior, at which point a bridge was built to make river crossing possible. From the middle of this bridge, take a peek at an unnamed waterfall on the Presque Isle, and note the potholes it has worn into the rock:
Once you have reached the east bank of the river, you can follow the well-worn dirt path heading south. It is important to note that you need to watch your footing, there are no guardrails on this side and it is a very steep drop. Soon Manabezho Falls reappears, and you get a great full view of the falls. Shortly after you leave Manabezho Falls you will again see Manido Falls. The trail continues upstream, where after about 10 minutes you will see Nawadha Falls. Though they can be viewed from the other side, it is a partial and mostly blocked view. The view from this side is better:
It is possible from this point to either backtrack or continue completing the loop. From Nawadha Falls the trail heads toward South Boundary Rd. Cross the river again at the road, and pick up the trail, again on the western bank. Within 15 minutes you will be back at the starting point.

This great trail highlights just a bit of what the Porkies have to offer, and the hike is quite rewarding for the amount of time and effort put in.

Getting there: From the east: from the Porcupine Mtns. State Park entrance, follow S. Boundary Rd to the other end of the park and take a right turn into the park, or if coming from the south/west: Take CR-519 north at its intersection with M-28 east of Wakefield and continue on to the park entrance (well signed). Either way, once you pass the ranger station, continue into the park and take the right fork marked for the falls. All trails begin from the east end of this parking lot.
Overall: Amazing
Hike: Moderate

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