Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Silver River Falls

Silver River
near Eagle Harbor, MI

A trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula can easily include several waterfalls reached within less than five minutes' work. One of these is the Silver River Falls, just north of Eagle Harbor near the intersection of M-26 and Brockway Mountain Drive.

The river drops in a handful of sections as it slides down the smooth rock before ending up calm at the bottom of the hill. Trees surround the bank on either side, and a pretty easy dirt path follows the southern bank. Check out the video below from June 2012:

Getting there: Silver River Falls are located just off M-26, three miles north of Eagle Harbor. There is a parking lot on the east side of the road, trail begins on the west side.

Overall: Good
Hike: Easy

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tioga Roadside Park Falls - Michigan

Tioga River
Baraga County, MI

The falls at the Tioga River Roadside Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula will never be accused of being massive, and don't attract the attention as the nearby Canyon Falls do, but due to the ease of seeing them are worth a very short side trip. There are some small falls that cascade into a rocky gorge under a bridge near the parking lot, and a footpath takes visitors to the unnamed falls, quietly nestled in a back corner of the park. The falls drop in several sections, none more than five feet. The fall adds some great color to the area as well.

Getting there: As you are heading west towards Baraga on US-41, look for the roadside park on the left hand side of the road just past Nestoria. There are toilets and picnic tables, the rocky falls are right by the bridge next to the parking lot and a short footpath heads south to the unnamed falls.

Overall: Okay
Hike: Easy

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sable Falls - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Sable Creek
Grand Marais, MI

While Sable Falls don't get the visitor traffic that their counterparts on the western end of Pictured Rocks do, these beautiful falls near the dunes on the eastern end of the lakeshore should not be missed. The Sable Creek drops several times here, framed by lush forest and within a short walk of towering dunes and the thundering power of Lake Superior. Especially beautiful in the fall when surrounded by colorful trees on both sides, these falls bring something for everyone regardless of the season. Erosion has become a concern here, and when we visited earlier this summer we found the stairs leading down to the falls had been moved inland to help with that problem.
While it's only a quarter mile to the falls, the dunes are reached by additional quarter mile hike towards the lakeshore:
The many portions of trees that have been washed ashore and the constant stream of fresh pebbles attests to the power of this mighty lake:
Getting there: from H-58 west of Grand Marais (M77), follow the brown signs in for the Sable Falls parking area.

Overall: Great
Hike: Moderate (stairs)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Horseshoe Falls - Munising, Michigan

Stutts Creek
Munising, MI

Horseshoe Falls holds a distinction among northern Michigan waterfalls - it is the only one I know of that is privately owned and charges an admission fee. Unlike the roadside Alger Falls and state-run Wagner Falls nearby, Horseshoe Falls are part of a tourist complex at the end of Bell Ave just south of the city. This causes some conflicts for me - part of me wants to be happy that rather than have these falls unaccessible on private land they are being shared, but the two times we have visited and paid (I believe $5 per two years ago) I just don't feel right - natural geological attractions like this SHOULD be shared with the public. The falls themselves are very similar to the Munising Falls, as the creek flows over a shelf of limestone before splitting and forming the "horseshoe" for which it is named. This is definitely another seasonally better waterfall, both visits have been mid-summer with flow but nothing spectacular. There is also a walkway filled with gnomes, a large sundial and a trout pond for visitors to take in or their way to the falls (a "gift shop" also). I advise making the most of your visit and take lots of pictures, so you don't have to come back every time you're in the area.

Getting there: From the south heading into Munising on M-28, take a right on Prospect St. then a left on Bell Ave and follow it to its end. There are large billboards directing the way.

Overall: Okay
Hike: Easy

Friday, July 27, 2012

Potato River Falls - Wisconsin

Potato River
Gurney, WI

The most stunning falls I have seen in Wisconsin so far are located in the small blink-and-miss town of Gurney. Here, the Potato River makes a handful of upper drops before it makes a large, wide final drop before the river calms down. Getting to these falls is not easy, be prepared to get your feet wet but have a spectacular view! From the parking area, signs point to a wooden overlook for the Upper Falls:
It looks like you can hop the fence here and take a quick trip down to the Lower Falls, this is not a good idea and from personal experience I don't recommend it:
It took us a bit, but back off the road you drove in on, before the parking lot is a small sign for a trail that takes you to the river. Unfortunately it still puts you on the wrong side, so find a shallow spot to cross the river and take the western bank in towards the falls, there are several good size rocks which make for great viewing spots.

Getting there: From US-2 and its intersection with Hwy 169, take Hwy 169 south almost three miles through Gurney and take a right on Potato River Falls Rd., take that to its end and a few signs mark the way.

Overall: Great
Hike: Difficult

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lester River Falls "The Shallows" - Duluth, Minnesota

Lester River
Duluth, MN

Just into Duluth is a large park area, where a river and creek continue their descent until they empty out into Lake Superior. The Amity Creek and Lester River here make at least 10 falls of different sizes, "The Shallows" or Lester River Falls are among the taller and more scenic. The river here drops about twenty-five feet over jagged rock face into a pool below - our June 2012 visit found a lot more water here than normal, due to the flooding. This is a well known hiking trail and would be a decent swimming spot when conditions allow. This used to be a footbridge over the river:
The video below shows a bit of the flood damage (we were about two weeks behind the worst of it):
Getting there: From Superior St. in Duluth, head north on Lester River Rd., for a little over a half mile and look for one of several dirt parking lots on the left. The trail skirts the east bank of the river, and the falls will be quite obvious when you get close, several side trails drop to the bank and falls.

Overall: Great
Hike: Easy

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Amnicon Falls State Park - Wisconsin

Amnicon River
Douglas County, WI

In stark contrast to yesterday's post about Kimball Falls, the multiple falls located in Amnicon Falls State Park are larger and much more powerful. The main section of the falls drops about ten feet, the river then passes under an old wooden bridge before dropping in the lower falls, a slide type falls dropping about twenty feet:
Taking the bridge across the river leads to a small island, and walking the perimtere of it is worth the half hour trip as there are several smaller falls and another drop above the upper falls. Here is Snake Pit Falls on the far side of the island:
A side trail from the parking lot features an overlook to the aptly named Now and Then Falls, which has never been more than a trickle when we've been there. I recently learned that the Wisconsin waterfall book I use is available on the Kindle (below), hope to see more of these added in the future - would be so much nicer than lugging around four to six books per trip!

Getting there: Outside Superior, at the US53/US2 split, take US-2 across Wisconsin, signs directing you to Amnicon Falls State Park will be on the highway. You are looking for County Road U to the north, a short drive on it will take you to the park entrance (fees apply). The park can also be reached from Hwy 13, but the route is a bit more complicated (still well signed).

Overall: Great
Hike: Easy

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kimball Falls - Wisconsin

West Fork Montreal River
Kimball, WI

A small and minimally impressive falls, Kimball Falls is made so easy it was hard to not finally stop and check them out. The falls are maybe 4-6 feet at maximum drop and really more of a rapids. the river is about 15 feet wide here, and the town has set up a nice park, a great spot for a picnic or some basketball - and likely a prime spot to take in the fall colors.
Getting there: From US-2 west of Kimball, look for white signs denoting the falls, and take a left turn (south) onto Park Rd. From there, its easy to follow the road and signs to the river and falls. When we were there in 2011 the bridge was closed so we parked and walked over.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hungarian Falls - Michigan

Hungarian Creek
Lake Linden, MI

A hidden treasure in the Keweenaw Peninsula, the five (or more) drops within a 15-20 minute walk around the Hungarian Creek is a reward for any waterfall entusiast that puts in the effort. It took us two separate trips to get the falls with significant flow, as the first time only the Upper Falls were worth it. The Upper Falls (above) have the biggest drop and are easily reached taking the right dirt path from where you park. The creek then flows in to a holding pond above a dam, which will be the next drop if water flow is high:
The path then crosses a bridge (not the sturdiest and full of holes) and there are several more areas where falls are possible if flow is high. Next up is a smaller set of drops best viewed from the south side of the river:
Shortly after that, a larger drop is reached, and the scenery here is great, as the creek drops 10-15 feet over shelfs of rock calmly dropping into a pool that reflects everything beautifully before the creek meanders on its way:
Finally, the creek takes its steepest drop shortly after this into a shaded canyon. I've never tried to get down into it for a view of the last falls, but decent views can be had from either side. Be careful here as it is steep and slippery.
Whew! Despite a few tricky climbs and not always the best water flow, this half hour hike has some amazing scenic views, and is barely 15 minutes northeast of Houghton.

Getting there: From M-26 in Lake Linden, head north on Sixth St. You'll go up a hill and start seeing trail roads. Take the third one on the left if the gate is open, and head in taking the right fork when they split and parking shortly after just below the dam. If the gate is closed, it is maybe a quarter mile hike in to the fork.

Overall: Good
Hike: Moderate

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Manganese Gorge Falls - Copper Harbor, Michigan

Manganese Creek
Copper Harbor, MI

Another very easy to reach waterfall in the Keweenaw Peninsula is found just outside of Copper Harbor on the Manganese Creek. The Manganese (Gorge) Falls drop over 40 feet into a gorge here, surrounded by lush forest. The view from the top is stunning in its simplicity, and several vantage points can be had. Getting into the gorge does not seem impossible, but is probably better left alone. The green moss clinging to the rock makes things a bit slippery near the edge, so be sure you have secure footing as you move around for a better view.

Getting there: From Copper Harbor, take Manganese Road to the south (there are brown signs pointing the way). You will drive through a campground then head up and around a bend on this seasonal road. The sign for, and the falls are on the left hand side, turnout on the right.

Overall: Good
Hike: Easy

Friday, July 20, 2012

Alger Falls - Munising, Michigan

Alger Creek
Munising, MI

Alger Falls, very much like Scott Falls just outside of Munising is one of the easiest to access in the entire state of Michigan. Alger Creek drops over the limestone shelf rocks here, and water levels can vary significantly based on recent rains and weather conditions. The colors here after a fall rain are splendid! The video below shows just how easy these falls are to get to:

Getting there: These falls are located on the roadside of M-28 near the M-94 junction, just south of the Munising city limits. There is ample parking on the shoulder of M-28 or just down M-94.

Overall: OK
Hike: None

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Devil's Kettle Falls - Judge C.R. Magney State Park, Minnesota

Brule River
Judge C.R. Magney State Park, MN

The main draw to Magney State Park on Minnesota's North Shore is Devil's Kettle Falls, located on the Brule River and reached after a half-mile hike. The well groomed and signed trail leads over the river, up a hill, down a hill and past the Upper and Lower sections of falls before reaching these unique falls. These pictures from June 2012 show the river very high, making it hard to distinguish the difference in the rock on the left hand side, where the water that enters this hole goes is a mystery so far.
Here is a look at the Upper Falls, which are down a few steps off to the left of the main trail just short of Devil's Kettle Falls.
The Lower Falls are quite a bit harder to reach, and near impossible during wet conditions or in the winter. From the observation bench for Devil's Kettles, follow the remnants of an old trail as it winds through trees and follows the river. A great vantage point can be had, where a smaller creek enters the river.
Getting there: Magney State Park is located off Hwy 61, near Grand Marais. Once inside the park, everything is clearly signed. Follow the trail to Devil's Kettle Falls, you will see Upper Falls on the way, Lower Falls are also on the way but are not marked at all - I found out about them through this book:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mink Creek Falls - Marathon, Ontario

Mink Creek
Marathon, ON

A hidden gem west of Marathon, Ontario, Mink Creek Falls is well known to locals but doesn't appear in many tourist guides. The falls are similar to Bond Falls in Michigan, and are a popular spot for fishing - we passed a father and son on their way down as we were leaving. Wildlife in the area also seems to be abundant, we saw a wolf on the highway just before the falls and many fish in the creek. The falls are loud, secluded and very picturesque, splitting over a large rock as they drop 35 feet in their main section and then again several times below. The lower drops are decent as well:

The flora and fauna in the area includes a lot of trees, flowers and widlife:
Here is a video I shot in June 2012 on our first visit to the falls:

Getting there: a little more than 17 miles outside of Marathon, look for a dirt parking area to the north just after the power lines over the highway have plastis airplane warning balls on them. Across the highway, there is a trail leading down to the river and falls, and it is pretty obvious - but use caution - it is a bit slippery after rain. Following the river takes you to the bottom of the falls, a different trail goes to the top.

Overall: Great
Hike: Easy to Moderate

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Minnehaha Falls - Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Crystal Creek
Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Our first waterfall stop on the Lake Superior Circle Tour in both 2011 and 2012 has been Crystal Falls and Minnehaha Falls in Kinsmen Park. While Crystal Falls has been spectacular both times, Minnehaha was but a trickle in 2011. This year, we could tell once within a few hundred yards that we were in for a much better treat. The falls drop several times below the dam before the creek begins its slow trek downstream. There is about a five foot drop right below the dam (picture below) and the main section of falls drops about twenty feet.

Getting there: Heading north on Hwy 17, take a right on Fifth Line Rd., and after a mile start watching for the sign for Kinsmen Park. The park entrance road winds its way downhill, ending in a parking lot. Crystal Falls is to the north of the pond, while Minnehaha Falls are reached by going to the right around the pond, crossing the dam and following the fence along the cliff until there is a good vantage point.

Overall: Poor to Good
Hike: Easy

Here's the 2012 video:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ilgen Falls - Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota

Baptism River
Tettegouche State Park, MN

While not visited as often as the High Falls and Two Step Falls in the State Park, Ilgen Falls is not worth missing while you're in the area. From the parking area, a short trail leads through trees and past the Ilgen Falls cabin (available to rent) then back into woods before it pops out at a stunning vista of the Baptism River. The main falls drop 35 feet off a cliff, while at high water several smaller drops of 2-3 feet can be seen as well. Here's a look at some cool swirls in the side pools above the falls:

Use caution along the trail that stays cliffside as it is steep, narrow, and often wet. In our two trips (June 2011 and June 2012) the water flow has been quite impressive. I have included a short video from our 2012 trip below (and check out my youtube channel for many more waterfall videos!).

Getting there: From north Hwy 61: Head north on Hwy 1 for a mile and a half and look for the parking area on the left.

Overall: Great
Hike: Easy

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trowbridge Falls - Thunder Bay, Ontario

Current River
Thunder Bay, Ontario

We caught Trowbridge Falls at a very high water level last month on the Lake Superior Circle Tour. We also caught them at a very busy time! It was a hot day in Thunder Bay, and there were quite a few people swimming in the river and in the falls as shown in the pictures and video. While not a huge single drop in any one area, the width of the river and its many drops make this a gorgeous setting in the easy to find Kinsmen Park. There is also a campground in the park.

Getting there: Heading into Thunder Bay on Hwy 17, take a right on Copenhagen Rd. and then a left into Kinsmen Park, find the parking lot near a large field with a swingset and walk down to the river.

Overall: Good
Hike: Easy

Here's a video of our experience at Trowbridge Falls:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Upper Wolf River Falls - Dorion, Ontario

Wolf River
near Dorion, ON, Canada

Wow! This was a truly amazing waterfall experience! After miles and miles of dirt road driving, we finally reached the "trailhead." A short walk had us at the gorge, which then presented the following challenges: steep descent, loose gravel, ladder, rope support, relentless mosquitoes. Still totally worth it. I will be adding some video in the coming days to better give a feel for how powerful these falls are - and I think we caught them after recent rains, the flow was incredible. Video(s) coming soon.
Getting there: There are not signs for this remote waterfall. We made it with few issues in a Kia Spectra, but a higher clearance vehicle would be preferable. From Hwy-17 in Ontario, take Fish Hatchery Road west - it's in pretty good shape, but pay attention to signs as there are several curves/intersections. Around four miles in, take the right turn onto Wolf Lake Rd, and get ready for rougher roads. You're on this road for 12 miles, and will pass over three bridges and by Wolf Lake (impressive views). After bridge #3 (in best shape of the 3) take the trail road to the right for a mile and a half until there's a spot to park. On the right, look for the trail and follow it, taking a left when it splits. At the top of the gorge is a cleared spot with campfire/hammock, look for the path down right around there. At the next split halfway down, left takes you to the rope ladder and falls, right takes you to the top. Good luck!

Overall: Amazing
Hike: Difficult