I thought that the hike to Slate River Falls was going to be short and fun. Wow, was I misled. I guess the actual hike to the falls was fun from a hiker’s perspective, but not necessarily fun when you had different expectations in your mind.
The book that I use to find different waterfalls in Michigan, 199 Michigan Waterfalls, suggested that the hike occurred right near the river, and was relatively easy. It seemed to hint that one might have to get their feet wet briefly, but when I got to the falls, I definitely could NOT understand how I wouldn’t get soaked. The river was much wider than expected, though not that deep. The problem is that there is no trail right next to the river. All I could imagine is that you might be able to wade up the river to get to the falls, but there was no way I was doing that! The water was not warm, and while the distance to the falls is not that far, it’s not that short either!
The solution to the problem is a little more complicated than what I expected. After walking down the road/trail heading in the general direction of the falls, I noticed that there was actually a trail on the left side of the river that climbed a hill. I followed this trail, and discovered that it did actually lead to the falls, though there was a pretty steep climb up and a relatively steep slide down a rather muddy hillside to get to the falls. This means there is also a subsequent steep climb up a muddy hillside. It’s not rockclimbing in any sense of the word, but it is rather difficult to get a good grip. Even so, I think there are a lot of people that will enjoy the hike to this beautiful waterfall. Once you get there, you are rewarded with a waterfall that you will probably be able to enjoy all by yourself!
1) From US-41 in L’Anse, turn right onto Broad St.
2) After a short distance, turn right onto Main Street.
3) Go for about 11 miles, where you will cross over the Slate River. I have to admit I wasn’t actually sure that I had crossed over the Slate River.
4) On your right will be a dirt “road/trail” that you can use to park. When I visited, there was a real estate sign indicating that the property was for sale. Who knows what will be there five years from now, but it seems that different signs are there when different people visit. I didn’t notice any sign actually indicating “Slate River Falls.”
5) After parking somewhere on that road (which sorta looks like it would lead to a house if there were one), look for a trail that leads up the left side of a hill. From there, you will walk a quarter mile or so to the falls.
Where in the World is Slate River Falls?: map