Monday, July 21, 2014

Overlooked Falls and Greenstone Falls -
Porcupine Mountains State Park, MI

When it comes to waterfalls in the Porcupine Mountains, the big falls on the West end of the park - Manabezho, Manido, and Nawadha Falls - tend to get all the glory, but there are many more beautiful falls inside the wilderness state park. As part of our 2014 Lake Superior Circle Tour, we finally made the hike to Overlooked Falls and Greenstone Falls, two waterfalls that are not that difficult to get to yet aren't visited as often as others. Both are reached from the same parking lot at the end of 
Little Carp River Rd. off of South Boundary Rd.
Overlooked Falls is reached in a few hundred feet, and there is a trail down each side of the river, offering pretty similar views. It's a set of 3-5 foot drops on the Little Carp River, but the scenery here is spectacular.
Continuing downstream, the river continues to drop and provide sets of little falls that make the half mile hike go by a lot faster than it should.
Greenstone Falls are wider, and a bit taller. It may take a bit of work to get down to river level for photos, but you're not too high above the river to start with and there are a few paths.
This area is also home to the Greenstone Falls Cabin, which can be rented from the state park.
One of the neat features of this trail is that there are several boardwalks in place for crossing to the other side - this gives the option of taking one path downstream and another on the trek back to the car:
You may notice in the photo above that my dad has on mosquito head netting - this should be considered a must-have for this hike. We only took them off briefly to take pictures, and we kept moving as much as possible. 
This is a sample of one of the additional falls on this river.
Take your time and enjoy everything the "backcountry" has to offer!
Be prepared for:
mosquitos, flies, etc.
wet, sloppy terrain (especially after rain)
moderate difficulty hiking

Monday, July 14, 2014

O Kun de Kun Falls - Bruce Crossing, MI

During this year's Lake Superior Circle Tour, my father and I were able to visit a good handful of waterfalls that we had previously not visited. One of the most impressive hikes was the trip to 
O Kun de Kun Falls, located north of Bruce Crossing in Michigan. While the hike had it's challenges, I was on a mission to correct a previous error on an earlier trip - stopping at the Upper Falls, calling it good and heading back. The trail to O Kun de Kun Falls begins at a parking lot just off M-45, and winds through the woods alongside the Baltimore River for about a mile and a half.
The trail is well marked and easy to follow, and it is also part of the North Country Trail. When we visited in June 2014, we found the trail in pretty good condition and ran into a National Forest Service crew trimming branches along the way. Where need be, boardwalks are in place:
There were a few muddy spots, and the picture below is a good one of the "worst" conditions we encountered:
Now, on to the waterfalls. A little over a mile into this scenic hike, the Baltimore River drops 10 feet over stone ledges to form the scenic Upper Falls (also referred to as the Creamy Peanut Butter Slide). Since this is a fairly impressive falls, I don't feel as bad for stopping here the first time. 
One of my favorite things about both falls on this river is the muddy brown color, as it contrasts perfectly with the lush green forest surroundings. Keep following the trail a little bit past these falls, and remember that there is a wooden bridge across the river below O Kun de Kun Falls - if you haven't seen the bridge, keep going.
The amazing falls here are about 25 feet in height, and they are a plunge falls that drop over the rock in a way that makes it possible to get in behind them if you are so inclined.
These falls will vary in flow seasonally, and the river is quite calm both above and below. As seen in this photo, there is also a small side falls.
On the way back to the parking lot, make a quick trip closer to the falls and explore the rock ledges for a close-up view:

Directions: From the intersection of M-45 and M-28 in Bruce Crossing, 
head north on M-45 for about 8 miles.
Watch for a sign for the North Country Trailhead 
and the O Kun de Kun Falls parking area.
Well-signed from the parking lot, easy-to-follow trail 
that will run around 2.5 miles round trip.

video coming soon

Be prepared for:
seasonal water flow changes
bugs (mosquito netting recommended)
wet/rough terrain (boots a good choice)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Wawa Falls and Silver Falls - Wawa, Ontario

<<Important note: construction in the area has made reaching these falls trickier but not impossible. When we were there in June 2014, the bridge was almost completed. It may be wise to check for updates with the local travel bureaus before attempting a visit.>>

The Wawa, Ontario area is great for waterfall enthusiasts, as there are three easily accessible waterfalls located within five miles of each other. This post will look at two that are reached from the same parking area, and a follow-up post will look at the most impressive falls in the area. Wawa Falls and Silver Falls are located just south of town and only a mile or so from Highway 17, and both are impressive in height and water flow.
Wawa Falls is the lower set of falls on the Silver River here, and is reached by following a footpath to the left of the bridge crossing the river. It is rocky and steep here, so use all necessary caution while reaching the bottom for a better view of the falls. Depending on water levels, this XXX foot high cascade can possibly be viewed from a better vantage point farther out (as seen in the video above)
Silver Falls seems to var quite a bit in water flow, and signs in the area indicate that is due to the river being dammed in places. It is possible to get quite close to these falls, but caution must be used when the alarm sounds and water levels rise. Head to the right of the bridge, or cross it and head to the right - either way you will end up with a solid view of these falls. A short video shows the falls in 2012 and the surrounding area including the old bridge:

On Highway 17 south of Wawa, head west on Michipicoten River Village Rd. Turn right when you reach a T intersection and follow to the bridge - Silver Falls is off to the right
and Wawa Falls are off to the left.
 This book was a big help in leading us to these waterfalls the first time we visited: