Big Manitou Falls, Wisconsin

Big Manitou Falls from the left viewpoint in May 2010 (with fresh snow falling)

Big Manitou Falls is big. It has the distinction of being one of the tallest waterfalls in the region that includes Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and possibly even the Lake Superior watershed. At 165′ tall, it’s not shabby.

Now, the unlucky thing about Big Manitou Falls…The views really aren’t truly spectacular. There’s no obvious (or SAFE) way to get to the base of the falls, and the view from the left side of the river, while good, are not top notch. I think from the major viewpoint, you can’t get a real sense of how tall the falls are. There are trails on the right side of the river, but they don’t seem to lead anywhere important. Oh well, it’s still a nice waterfall. Check out the smaller, but equally impressive, Little Manitou Falls.

An update from August 2015:  When I first visited Big Manitou Falls, I viewed the falls from the left side of the river (once facing the falls). It wasn’t particularly easy to get a complete view of the falls. On the return visit, five years later, I discovered that there was another viewpoint on the right side of the falls. This viewpoint provides a much more complete picture of the falls, though you still won’t be at the base. I actually think seeing the falls from both sides provides some uniquely different pictures.

Directions:

  1. From US-2/US-53 in Superior, head south on WI-35 for 13 miles, following the signs to Pattison State Park.
  2. Once you reach Pattison State Park, you can turn left and go toward the camping area. There is a trail that leads to the falls…
  3. Or after paying at the area mentioned in step 2, you can continue down WI-35 for a short distance, turn onto County Road B, and find the parking area just to the left. This leads much closer to the falls, and allows for easy access to the right viewpoint.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip
Height: 165′

A view of Big Manitou Falls from the right (in August 2015)

Where in the World is Big Manitou Falls?

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Now and Then Falls, Wisconsin

Now and Then Falls in May 2010

Now and Then Falls is definitely an interesting waterfall. The waterfall is unlikely to register to some since it has so little water flowing over it, at least when I visited Amnicon Falls State Park. The other falls in the park were flowing powerfully in early May (after all the snow melt), but this falls was still puny.

What made the falls interesting to me was the color. In the Lake Superior region, I do not usually remember the green colors from the mosses that are usually found in the Pacific Northwest area. Now and Then Falls seems very “green” in comparison to many falls in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Directions:

  1. From Duluth/Superior, head east on US-2.
  2. Just after the intersection of US-2 with WI-53, you’ll notice a sign indicating that Amnicon Falls State Park is coming very soon.
  3. At the sign indicating the park, turn left onto County Road U.
  4. After a very short distance on County Road U, you will find the entrance for the state park. Stop and purchase a day pass if you need one. The ranger at the visitor’s center was extremely helpful at directing me to the falls and telling me how to get to Pattison State Park.
  5. Right near the visitor center, you can head right down a rather narrow park road to the end of the road, where you’ll find a parking area just a few feet from the falls.  Now and Then Falls is in the opposite direction from the larger falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 6′
Length of Hike: negligible

Where in the World is Now and Then Falls?

Lower Falls, Wisconsin

I visited Amnicon Falls State Park this May. I had arrived at the Duluth airport just a few hours earlier, and headed to the park. It hadn’t really started snowing yet, though there were a few sprinkles.

Once inside the park, you’ll find numerous named waterfalls and a number of other waterfalls along the Amnicon River and its tributaries. Lower Falls is one of the more impressive falls in the park, dropping 15 feet or so. The height is not terribly important here. It’s the beauty of the rock surrounding the falls, along with the pedestrian bridge above the falls. On the right side of the picture is an island formed where the river splits in two. You can explore the island and view many other falls.

Directions:

  1. From Duluth/Superior, head east on US-2.
  2. Just after the intersection of US-2 with WI-53, you’ll notice a sign indicating that Amnicon Falls State Park is coming very soon.
  3. At the sign indicating the park, turn left onto County Road U.
  4. After a very short distance on County Road U, you will find the entrance for the state park. Stop and purchase a day pass if you need one. The ranger at the visitor’s center was extremely helpful at directing me to the falls and telling me how to get to Pattison State Park.
  5. Right near the visitor center, you can head right down a rather narrow park road to the end of the road, where you’ll find a parking area just a few feet from the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: negligible

Lower Falls with pedestrian bridge above (May 2010)

Where in the World is Lower Falls?

Little Manitou Falls, Wisconsin

So I decide to take a trip to northwest Wisconsin and the Minnesota shoreline this May. I check the weather the night before, and notice that they’re expecting snow! This should be interesting, since I was hoping that it might be just a little bit warmer than that. Oh well, the weather in the Midwest can be rather unpredictable.

I visited Amnicon Falls State Park first, and while it’s snowing, it’s not too bad. Then I visit Pattinson State Park, and that’s when it starts to snow noticeably. The temperature is in the 30s, though it’s not terribly uncomfortable. My shoes are soaked from the very wet snow. Because of the cold, I decided rather quickly not to hike the trail from Big Manitou Falls to Little Manitou Falls. I’m in luck because it’s just a short drive from one parking lot to another to view Little Manitou Falls…if I could just find the turn to the parking lot for Little Manitou Falls. I only passed it twice (and noticed that I had passed it) while searching for it.

I park, walk through the slushy snow along the short trail to the falls, and am surprised at the beauty that is in front of me. It’s the smaller of the two falls in the park, but with the snow falling in the background, it’s just beautiful.

Directions:

  1. From US-2/US-53 in Superior, head south on WI-35 for 13 miles, following the signs to Pattison State Park.
  2. Once you reach Pattison State Park, you can turn left and go toward the camping area, which will lead you to Big Manitou Falls.
  3. Continue 1 mile past Big Manitou Falls, and then turn left for the parking area for Little Manitou Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 31′
Length of Hike: negligible

Manitou Falls during the early May snow

Where in the World is Little Manitou Falls?