Middle Falls (Falls River), Michigan

This “middle” falls on Falls River in L’Anse may be one of the quirkiest waterfall experiences that I’ve had. First of all, the easiest way to view the falls is by parking at a Burger King (and of course buying food during the stop). As you start hiking toward the river, you may begin to notice that the temperature will start to get progressively warmer. At the riverside, it was noticeably warmer. I believe there is a plant above the river that causes that. It is a very weird feeling, to say the least.

I’m not sure the trail is “beautiful.” There are houses above the riverside, some distance away. It even seemed like people used the area for recreation/partying? It also didn’t smell particularly great! I have also seen a few descriptions of it as one of the most beautiful rivers in Michigan, but I don’t really agree with that. So why visit? Because it’s really easy to visit!

Directions:

  1. Head north on US-41 to L’Anse/Baraga.
  2. As you enter L’Anse, keep on US-41 until you approach the Burger King.
  3. Park at the Burger King. (There is another entrance, but the other has signs indicating no trespassing.)
  4. Head toward the river/bridge. Near the bridge, there is a trail heading north. Follow the trail to the falls, including Middle Falls and Lower Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Middle Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Middle Falls?

Gabbro Falls, Michigan

I visited Gabbro Falls just over two years ago during the beautiful fall colors season in the Upper Peninsula, and I was both surprised and impressed! The Black River in the westernmost county of the Upper Peninsula is one of the not-to-miss rivers. Along a portion of the National Scenic Drive, you’ll find five waterfalls within just a few miles of each other. During the fall season, it’s spectacular!

And yet, there’s another waterfall that is considerably further upstream that doesn’t get as much attention, and yet it’s equally as impressive. Gabbro Falls is only a few miles outside of Ironwood, and almost equidistant from Bessemer and Wakefield, both east of Ironwood. When I visited the Upper Peninsula in September 2010, it had just rained profusely, so much so that the waterfalls were intense, to say the least. Gabbro Falls may have been at its most voluminous. The fall colors made it a sight to behold!

I had absolutely no chance to explore whether there was a way to get to the base of the falls because of the high flow. At that time, there was virtually no option to do that, so the photographs were taken from the side and the crest.

Directions:

  1. As you’re headed east out of Ironwood along US-2, you’ll pass through Bessemer.
  2. A few miles east of Bessemer, you’ll find Blackjack Road on your left. Turn left onto Blackjack Road.
  3. Go 1.5 miles along Blackjack Road, following it to the left as it veers across the Black River.
  4. After crossing the bridge over the Black River, veer left and start going uphill (to the left of a ski area).
  5. Opposite of the building along this road is the short trail that leads to the falls. If I remember correctly, it is not extremely obvious, so it may help to open the window and listen for the rush of water. Park at the edge of the road, and hike to the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Gabbro Falls view from the crest (September 2010)

The falls from the side

Where in the World is Gabbro Falls?

Alger Falls, Michigan

Alger Falls in July 2008

I believe that Alger Falls might win the award as my most visited waterfall anywhere. I live in Michigan, so it makes sense that one of the falls in Michigan might be the most visited…but why Alger Falls?

Alger Falls is by no means the tallest, widest, or most impressive waterfall in the state (or even county, for that matter). Photographing it can even be difficult because the sun seems to like to play games with the falls.

And yet the reason that the sun plays games is also likely the reason that I’ve seen it so many times. It’s wildly easy to visit. It is a roadside waterfall, just a hundred feet or so from M-28. This is not some back highway with very few cars. This is the main road leading into Munising. At certain times of the year you might not see many cars, and yet during the summer, it’s crawling with people. And if you’re heading into Munising, there’s a pretty high probability you’ll be passing Alger Falls.

The falls are off at an angle, so the first time, there was some hesitation about where to park. Pull off, and you’ll be OK. There’s a sign indicating you’re at the right place. After the first visit, it becomes much less difficult to recognize where the falls are. I think I’ve shown the falls to nearly every person I’ve visited the Upper Peninsula with. Oh, and another benefit…Wagner Falls is less than a quarter of a mile away, and Horseshoe FallsTannery FallsMemorial Falls, and Munising Falls are within a few miles. If you don’t mind expanding the radius further, there are at least 20 relatively easy-to-visit falls in Alger County alone.

Directions:

  1. Heading north along M-28, just about 2 miles from the center of Munising, you’ll find Alger Falls off on your right. There’s a green sign (hard to read at a distance) that indicates you’ve reached the falls!

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 35′
Length of Hike: Roadside

A view of the falls in October 2009

Where in the World is Alger Falls?

Bond Falls, Michigan

I first visited Bond Falls in August 2008, and I believe at that time I was by myself. While there are numerous waterfalls in the vicinity, Bond Falls seems slightly isolated. Agate Falls is further downstream, but there is still some distance between the two, and it does require some out-of-the way driving to get to Bond Falls. It’s definitely worth it, though. First of all, the Upper Peninsula is absolutely beautiful, so the drive off of the main roads is no problem. Second, Bond Falls is what I would consider one of the top ten waterfalls in Michigan.

At 50′, Bond Falls is nowhere near the tallest falls in the Upper Peninsula. I’m a firm believer, though, that just because a waterfall is tall does not necessarily mean that it is interesting or beautiful. Bond Falls more than makes up for its still impressive height by being very wide, at least 100′ as it spreads out at its base. Because of its width, the location of the walkway, and the trees in the middle of the falls, it can actually be rather difficult to photograph the whole falls. There are a number of different places to experiment getting great shots, so it’s likely you’ll end up with at least one great all-encompassing shot.

When I revisited Bond Falls with my father in late September 2010, the falls were at their peak beauty. The day was beautiful (which can be difficult to find in Michigan in fall), the trees were just beginning to change colors, and Bond Falls did not disappoint. If you have the chance, visit the Upper Peninsula during the fall color change.

Directions:

  1. Bond Falls can be accessed from either US-45 (which runs N/S) or MI-28 (running E/W). In both cases you’ll be looking for Bond Falls Road.
  2. Bond Falls road is easily accessed from US-45. It will be on your right if you are heading north on US-45. To access Bond Falls Road from MI-28, there are a number of other roads (Agate and Calderwood Road) that come before, making the directions seem more complicated. In either case, signs along the main roads will pretty clearly guide you to the park.
  3. At the park, the main parking area goes down a handicapped-accessible boardwalk to a view in front of the falls.
  4. If you head uphill along one of the trails to the crest of the falls, you will see that there are more drops hidden from view.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Bond Falls in August 2008

Bond Falls in late September 2010

Where in the World is Bond Falls?

Memorial Falls, Michigan

Memorial Falls in October 2009

Memorial Falls definitely “falls” into the category of “Waterfalls I’ve had the most difficult time photographing”. I haven’t visited the falls in about three years, but it took three tries before I got relatively decent shots of the falls.

Let me just say that it is definitely worth a visit to MNA Memorial Falls, even if the waterfall doesn’t want to play along with you. The hike to the falls is very cool. As you begin to descend into the gorge, there are sandstone cliffs just next door to you. It’s a really neat experience.

The first time I visited the falls, I did not have the best of cameras. The second time I had a better camera, but it’s hard to deny the fact that this is a tricky waterfall to photograph. Because of the shape at the crest of the falls, it’s almost as if the light is amplified, and the photos can show up very washed out. It wasn’t until the the third try that I finally got some shots that weren’t completely overwhelmed by the light around me. Showing up earlier in the day might be better, if I think about the orientation of the falls.

The photographs don’t do the falls justice. There may not be a huge amount of water flowing over the falls (unless it’s recently rained), but there is definitely an optical illusion occurring here. The falls don’t look particularly tall, but they are taller than they appear. I’m still amazed when I look at the photos I took of my friend standing behind the falls. She looks like she’s being engulfed by the rock overhang.

*There may be a 2nd falls visible to the left of the main falls if a significant amount of rain has fallen.

Directions:

  1. From Munising, head east on County Road H-58.
  2. After about a mile or so (?), you’ll come along Washington Avenue on your left. Pass Washington Avenue, but begin to slow down. Shortly after this, you’ll come upon Nestor Avenue on your right. Turn right onto Nestor Avenue.
  3. Drive about 3/4 of the way down Nestor Ave (which is pretty short). Look for a small sign indicating the start of the trail to Memorial Falls. The sign will be on the right side of the road (assuming you haven’t turned around already on this one way street).
    4) The hike starts in a beautifully forested area, and then proceeds to descend downhill. You’ll wrap around a sandstone wall and end up at the falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Memorial Falls Michigan (42)

The falls in July 2013

Where in the World is Memorial Falls?

West Branch Sturgeon Falls #2, Michigan

First, I’ll mention you can find out more about the waterfalls on the West Branch Sturgeon River in my previous posts, including the first posted, West Branch Sturgeon Falls #3.

I’ll just mention again, though, that the area around the falls is rather confusing. Often, the West Branch Sturgeon River is in view, and yet there’s no easy way to follow the river as it winds through the forests of the Upper Peninsula. This makes it difficult to clearly identify where the falls are found, as there are numerous different falls. This post completes the set of 4 falls I saw, and there is Hogger Falls upstream, which I was unable to find.

The second falls is not the easiest to photograph, as there are trees blocking the view. If you find the falls, you’ll be standing almost directly above them. The river takes a somewhat sharp turn at this point. Finding falls #3 and #4 become more difficult, as there is no clearly defined trail to see these falls. It’s not necessarily bushwhacking either, as long as you keep your bearings…

Directions:

  1. We took MI-38 west out of Baraga and headed for a ways on M-38.
  2. After traveling west on M-38, you will come to Newberry Road, which will be on your left.
  3. Turn left onto Newberry Road and head 3 miles south on the dirt road.
  4. After about 3 miles, you’ll come to a “road” on your left. If you go any further, you’ll end up at the West Branch Sturgeon River, where the bridge is out. If you turn around and head north, I guess it’s the first “road” on your right.
  5. We had to stop at that road because it was blocked by a gate, and I’m not necessarily sure I would head down that road anyway.
  6. From the gate, start hiking east down the road. Keep going until it appear that the road “ends”. It seemed to be blocked by a pile of dirt and trees, though there was a trail that wrapped around to the right.
  7. Follow that trail to the right, which heads to the river. Depending on where you end up, you’ll likely see a waterfall. The first waterfall we saw was not easily visible. I then headed back west following the river very closely. The 2nd falls is not necessarily easy to photograph, but it’s probably the most noticeable of the falls.

Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Height: 6′
Length of Hike: 2.3 miles round-trip

West Branch Sturgeon Falls #2 in late September 2010

Where in the World is West Branch Sturgeon River Falls #2?

Miners Beach Falls, Michigan

I thought I had touched on all of the waterfalls I’ve visited in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but apparently not. Miners Beach Falls (also known as Elliot Falls) is a little treasure just waiting to be found, and it’s amazingly easy to visit.

The Pictured Rocks just so happens to be one of my favorite places to visit. And if you’re looking to spend just one day there, the area around Miners Beach is a really great choice. There’s the interesting rock formation at Miners Castle, and if you continue down a dirt road for a short distance, you’ll end up at Miners Beach. In the depths of summer, I bet this beach is amazing for swimming. In early May, though, this beach can be downright wicked. The winds off the lake can cause the temperature to drop significantly, but you’ll still be rewarded with stunning views.

At the very eastern end of this beach is a waterfall that you could likely miss if you weren’t intentionally trying to find it. It’s not particularly tall, only about 6′, in two separate drops. But what makes this waterfall great is the scenery around it. Since the falls flow into Lake Superior, you can try numerous different angles to get both the falls and the lake in one shot. And when the lake is choppy with waves, it can only add to the beauty.

Directions:

  1. Go down Miner’s Castle Road (Alger County Road H-13) passing over Miners River.
  2. You’ll reach a point where you can turn left toward Miner’s Castle or turn right toward the Lakeshore trail head. Head toward the Lakeshore trail head.
  3. At the parking lot, you have two options. Heading up the Lakeshore Trail, you will find Potato Patch Falls. If you head left toward the sounds of waves, you’ll end up at the lake.
  4. Once at the beach, look right, and you should see the stream falling into the lake.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, it’s very sandy, so it’s not 100% stable)
Height: 6′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Miners Beach Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Miners Beach Falls?

Middle Hungarian Falls #3, Michigan

Middle Hungarian Falls #3 is the least exciting of all of the waterfalls on or near the Hungarian River.  Even when the other falls are at their highest flows, this one is still pretty insignificant, as the picture from May 2009 shows below.  This small little fall is not on the main river/creek, but a very small offshoot.  You may not even notice this as you’re waking along.  It was a while ago, but I do remember it being visible from a wooden plank that crosses the Hungarian River.

Directions:

  1. You’ll be driving along M-26 toward Hubell, MI.
  2. In the outskirts of Hubell (if there can be outskirts in such a small town), turn onto Sixth Street.
  3. Sixth Street will dead end, but to the left is a dirt road named Golf Course Road. Take the road to the left.
  4. You will go up a hill, and the road will flatten out a little bit.
  5. Here’s the confusing part…As you’re driving on Golf Course Road, you will pass a number of dirt roads on the left. I got confused by the directions I was following and ended up turning onto the first road ON THE LEFT after a pile of rubble and a gate. The connection to the road was not even, so go slowly!
  6. From there, I headed down that road to the end, where there is a turn-around. Park here.
  7. From here, you will connect onto the trail to your right. Where I parked, if I walked straight instead of to the right, I hit what looked like the remains of an old bridge.
  8. From this trail, you will end up passing the Lower Falls first. Then you will come to the first Middle Hungarian Falls. All of the falls can be viewed from this trail, some better than others.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 5′
Length of Hike: 0.9 miles round-trip

One of the Hungarian Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Middle Hungarian Falls #3?

Even Lower Hungarian Falls, Michigan

Below Lower Hungarian Falls, there are a number of smaller drops on the river that are interesting to view. These can only be viewed by making the very crazy choice to head down in to the gorge itself. It was definitely not the easiest hike I have ever done. After jumping from the riverbank onto logs, and then rock-hopping for a ways, you will reach these falls. The return journey is no simpler.

This specific waterfall is about 10′ tall, and comes in two separate drops. I think there are a few others. You might be able to tell there’s a third drop almost hidden by a log.

Directions:

  1. You’ll be driving along M-26 toward Hubell, MI.
  2. In the outskirts of Hubell (if there can be outskirts in such a small town), turn onto Sixth Street.
  3. Sixth Street will dead end, but to the left is a dirt road named Golf Course Road. Take the road to the left.
  4. You will go up a hill, and the road will flatten out a little bit.
  5. Here’s the confusing part…As you’re driving on Golf Course Road, you will pass a number of dirt roads on the left. I got confused by the directions I was following and ended up turning onto the first road ON THE LEFT after a pile of rubble and a gate. The connection to the road was not even, so go slowly!
  6. From there, I headed down that road to the end, where there is a turn-around. Park here.
  7. From here, you will connect onto the trail to your right. Where I parked, if I walked straight instead of to the right, I hit what looked like the remains of an old bridge.
  8. From this trail, pay close attention. If you want to enter the gorge itself, you may notice a narrow dirt trail that leads downhill. This will lead you to the rock-hopping adventure I experienced.

Accessibility: 2/10 (strenuous)
Height: 10′
Length of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip

A lower drop on the Hungarian River in May 2008

Where in the World is Even Lower Hungarian Falls?

Ocqueoc Falls, Michigan

The first time I visited Ocqueoc Falls was in March a few years ago. The snow was still relatively deep at that point, though not deep enough that we couldn’t get to the falls. It’s one of the few waterfalls I’ve visited where snow is still present on the falls itself. Since the falls are smaller, there really isn’t any amazing ice structure that forms. It’s actually surprisingly peaceful, as long as you can feel your toes!

I later went back to visit the falls, which have the distinction of being one of two known waterfalls in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. (The other, recently “discovered”, is found in the Manistee National Forest.) In the summer, a different personality of the falls was present. I realized then that no single drop is considerably large, though the river is 20′ wide or so. It is a great place for people to relax and play in the falls. Forest trails also start near the falls, and there are many hiking opportunities here.

Directions:

  1. There are honestly a number of different ways to get to the falls, since the road system around the falls is rather “complete.” You’re looking for for Ocqueoc Falls Highway, which is very near M-68 in Presque Isle County.
  2. From US-23 in Rogers City, you can head west on M-68 for a few miles. At some point, M-68 will veer toward your left, while Ocqueoc Falls Highway will be straight ahead.
  3. Go straight (take the right fork) onto Ocqueoc Falls Highway. From there, the park will be on your right.
  4. After parking, head along the short trail to the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 5′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Ocqueoc Falls in June 2008

Ocqueoc Falls in March 2008

Where in the World is Ocqueoc Falls?