Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saxon Falls - Michigan/Wisconsin border

Upper Falls
Lower Falls
Montreal River
Saxon, MI

Much like yesterday's featured Superior Falls, Saxon Falls is found on the border between Michigan and Wisconsin, and has had access to both the upper and lower falls made easier in recent years thanks to the XCel Energy company, which maintains a dam in the area. It took me three attempts to get the best views of these falls, but boy was it worth it!
My first attempt had us following a slight path to the right of the main gate, for a partially obscured view of the upper falls, from the riverside:
We ventured back several years later, took the side road and followed posted signs, working our way from the dam, across the river and to the top of the stairs to the powerhouse, which had a distant, blocked view of the upper falls. It was this August, on my third trip, that I found new, detailed signs in place which got us to the breathtaking views of both the upper and lower falls. We chose to go to the lower falls first, this journey starts at the dam:
Head down the wide grass path to the left of the "DANGER: Waterfalls immediately ahead" sign, look for the white sign for the falls and hop onto the metal catwalk. This will carry you over the river, and into the woods:
There will be a side trail to the left, marked for "top of falls" - we chose to come catch those on the return trip, staying straight the path is now old railroad ties on top of a water pipe:
Soon, the fun begins, as you get to the top of the hill. You will need to climb up a ladder, past the side of a building, down another ladder, and then descend an amazing flight of iron stairs, directly on top of the water pipe:
This puts you at the powerhouse, almost there!
Go around the powerhouse, take the bridge over the river (falls will now be in view), cross to the other side, hop down and follow the rocky ground for the view you prefer, I enjoyed these falls, and noted a similarity to the "shallows" falls on the Lester River in Duluth, MN.
Retrace your steps back to the "top of the falls" sign, and follow the 1/4 mile dirt path for a great view of the upper section, but keep in mind there are no barriers and it is a very steep drop:
Wow! This was quite the adventure and a completely unique waterfall experience - glad I made the return trip, enjoy the video below, which has footage of many of the things I mentioned above.

Getting there: From US-2 in Ironwood, head into Wisconsin, and either take County Rd B north to its end, or follow the Superior Falls directions, taking a right onto Cty Rd B before the river, then taking a left onto "Saxon Falls Flowage Rd." Take the right dirt road at the split, marked for falls access, there is ample parking near the dam.

Overall: Great
Hike: Moderate

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