Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rainbow Falls - Black River Scenic Byway (5 of 5)

Black River
north of Bessemer, Mich.

This is it - part five of five, and let me tell you if you've hiked all five of these, your legs might be burning a bit by this point. Rainbow Falls is the final stop on the waterfall portion of the Black River Scenic Byway (ends shortly after this at the harbor, which features a bridge to the other side for a longer hike). These breathtaking falls plunge into a gorge below, and are named for the rainbows frequently spotted by the top of the falls here:
The hike here sounds short, at 1/2 mile, and it will go by fast, but it is mostly downhill and will seem more challenging than the previous trails. The viewing platform only provides a partial view of the falls, and access to the gorge below for the brave (note that no good full views can be had from this side down there).
For a view like the one at the top of the post and the one below this paragraph, there are two options. First, if water levels are low enough, the river is not very wide at the top - somehow I was brave enough on my first visit to leap to the other side (2-3 feet). Subsequent trips have been on rainy days, so that option is out - proceeding to the harbor and taking the bridge to the trail on the other side of the river would also get you here but will easily add a couple miles to your day of hiking.
Getting there: From US-2 in Bessemer, take CR-513 north over 15 miles to the Rainbow Falls parking lot, the last waterfall lot on the byway.

Overall: Great
Hike: Moderate to Difficult

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