Saturday, February 25, 2012

Haven Falls - Lac LaBelle, Michigan

Haven Creek
Lac LaBelle, MI

Located in a picturesque little park in Lac LaBelle, Haven Falls can be seen from the car and can also be viewed closer. The creek drops 15-20 feet here, and is seasonally more or less spectacular, usually dependent on recent rain. Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula has many great waterfalls, and almost all of them are easy to access.

For more sightseeing in the area, check out the Bete Grise (Mendota) lighthouse which is just several miles down the road, marking the entrance to the Mendota shipping canal.

Getting there: From US-41 south of Copper Harbor, take Lac LaBelle Rd. east and watch for (brown wood) signs at the bottom of the hill directing you to both Haven Falls, to the right, and the Mendota Lighthouse, left and around the bend at the end of the road.

Overall: Good
Hike: Easy

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gabbro Falls - Bessemer, Michigan

Black River
Bessemer, MI

Gabbro Falls is without a doubt, the best surprise falls I've been to in Michigan. There was no photo I had seen beforehand - and nothing to prepare me for this beautiful falls as it drops multiple times into a deep gorge. There are multiple short paths from the road to both the bottom of the gorge and the top, which has a better view of the falls.

Getting there: From US-2 in Bessemer, head east and take Blackjack Rd, north, following it over a wooden bridge and around a curve past a ski resort. Park on either side at the top of the curve near the old equipment and garage style buildings - the trail begins on the east side of the road.

Hike: Moderate (and steep to bottom)
Overall: Amazing

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Falls River Falls - L'Anse, Michigan

Falls River
L'Anse, MI

For a pretty good look at the waterfall experience as a whole, the Falls River drops so many times on its way to Lake Superior in L'Anse, MI. The beauty begins at the aptly named Powerhouse Falls:
Nearby, through the woods on the road you drove to in order to get to Powerhouse Falls is another aptly named falls, Power Dam Falls. Here, the river flows over the remnants of an old dam and you can see some of the concrete still remains:

After visiting these to falls, you have to head into town to see the rest of the falls. There is an Upper Falls mentioned in the Penrose book, but due to it being outdated and a lot of development since it's publishing, we found no way to photograph this falls without trespassing. There is a path to the next falls, Unnamed Falls, that we went down, not sure if we were trespassing in someone's backyard or not - I always try and remember to be courteous, and above all, quick.
This isn't a huge drop, but it is spread across the width of the river, making it more impressive. We managed to find a better way to get to the Middle and Lower Falls than what the book had said, Middle Falls just seems to go on and on, while the Lower Falls are actually two sets of falls, one of the "slide" variety, shown below (second photo).
For spending an hour or two in a lovely town on the shore of Lake Superior, you are rewarded with five (six if Upper Falls is included) falls of various size and beauty on just one river. There are many more falls in the area - so pick up a book, brochure, or contact the Tourism Dept. for more info. The amount of waterfalls on the L'Anse/Skanee area rivals, or perhaps outdoes that of Alger County - plus Mt. Arvon, the highest point in Michigan, is along the way to some of the falls and easily accessible!

Getting there: To get to Power House and Power Dam Falls, turn left on to Power Dam Rd. as you head towards L'Anse on US41. The road curves sharply then crosses some RR tracks and there should be signs as you turn onto a trail road. Powerhouse Falls are at the end of the road, and as you head back out, look for a clearing on your right, and follow a lightly worn path into the woods for Power Dam Falls.
We got to Unnamed Falls by taking E. River Rd. (you passed it at the RR tracks) to a washout near where the tracks come back out, parked and walked to the end of a new road and some houses, where we found the trail.
Middle Falls are best viewed from a dirt trail that starts just off 6th St. Park on the street then follow the dirt road, bike paths downstream for Lower Falls and upstream for Middle Falls. The other section of Lower Falls (pic above) is better viewed by parking on the right off US 41 just past the RR tracks, find the trail and walk downstream. I hope to contact the Tourism Dept. and get better directions/access soon for a trip in June.

Overall: Great
Hike: Easy to Moderate

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rapid River Falls - Rapid River, Michigan

Rapid River
Rapid River, MI

Located in a county park just off of US-41, the Rapid River drops over limestone shelves here in sections, the biggest being 3-4 feet. As you are looking at these falls, the largest drop is on the right, and depending on water flow, you may be able to walk across the river by rock hopping or may see very little of the shelf drops as they may be underwater. There is a nice informative sign at the park about the geology of the river and the coloring it gives the river. The photo above shows the falls in September of 2009, while this one below shows them in June of 2010 - quite a contrast!

Getting there: From US-2's intersection with US-41 just west of Rapid River, take 41 north about 7 miles and look for the clear marked signs for the park and falls on the west side of the road. Turn left, follow this road to the park where there is ample parking, bathrooms and a playground - the river will be visible when you park.

Overall: OK to Good
Hike: Easy

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Spray Falls - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
near Munising, MI

A highlight of the Pictured Rocks boat cruise is a trip out to Spray Falls, where water cascades off the cliff straight into Lake Superior. You can also see these falls after miles of hiking along the lakeshore trail, but its easiest to see from the boat, which provides a better vantage point. Additional highlights of the cruise include the Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse, seen below:

The falls in the Pictured Rocks area are one of the reasons I love traveling there, but seeing the cliffs up close is also breathtaking. An occasional bald eagles sighting may also be a highlight of the trip for some. Not every cruise of the cliffs goes all the way out to Spray Falls so be sure to check the latest schedule and make sure you go at the right time.
Getting there: The Pictured Rocks Boat Cruise docks are located in Munising, on Elm Ave by the city pier. If you're ambitious enough to attempt the hike, catch the Lakeshore Trail at the Little Beaver Lake campground.

Overall: Great
Hike: Moderate

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Haymeadow Falls - Rapid River, Michigan

Haymeadow Creek
north of Rapid River, MI

The short and scenic hike to Haymeadow Falls is half the fun in visiting. While these falls don't have the steepest drop, they are in a quiet forested setting. The creek drops three to five feet here in several sections, and the falls can be viewed from up close or from a nearby bridge. The coolest thing here is that the trailhead is located in a State Forest Campground with 15 sites, and no user fee. We've stayed here multiple times, and it is very fun to go visit the falls first thing in the morning.

Getting there: On US- 2, two miles east of Rapid River, take County Road 509 north. Stay on CR-509 when the road forks (bearing left). It's a little over eight miles from this point to the campground and several trails that lead to the falls, all are well marked and signed. The trail hike is about half a mile to the falls either way.

Overall: Good
Hike: Easy