Miners Falls, Michigan

Miners Falls in early May

Miners Falls is definitely one of my favorite waterfall in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which is one of my favorite places to visit. I visit the park annually, and have visited the falls numerous times. While the falls are only about 40′ tall or so, Miners Falls seems larger. Maybe it’s the considerable amount of water that is usually flowing over the falls. Whenever I’ve visited, I have not been disappointed.

The extremely enjoyable hike to the falls leads to two different overlooks, with one of the overlooks leading to the much better view. The official trail ends at the overlook, though I have noticed a footpath leading down to the base of the falls. I’ve never tried it, though. (In 2013, I did try it, and it wasn’t extremely difficult, though not many pictures came out well.) The first time I visited, it was surprisingly chilly and I was without a coat, so I didn’t even try. The second time, it had rained the whole weekend, and so the trial was likely very slippery, which can be dangerous. Miners Falls produces a considerable amount of spray, which you’ll experience even at the overlook, which is a few hundred yards away from the falls.

Directions:

  1. From Munising, head east on Alger County Road H-58.
  2. Turn left on Miners Castle Road, which is very clearly signed as leading toward Miners Beach and Miners Falls.
  3. Head down about 3 miles, where you’ll turn right onto the dirt road heading toward Miners Falls. The sign for the falls on the road isn’t the largest, so pay close attention.
  4. Head to the end of the road to the parking lot, where the short 0.5 mile one-way trail to the falls starts.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip

Miners Falls in October at the beginning of the fall colors season.

Where in the World is Miners Falls?

Lower Au Train Falls, Michigan

There are two waterfalls on the Au Train River that are very close to each other: Upper Au Train Falls and Lower Au Trian Falls. There often referred to as just Au Train Falls, but they’re definitely two separate falls. Lower Au Train Falls is the smaller of the falls, though I think it is just as interesting.

Depending on the time of year you show up to view the falls, the falls will look different. I’ve posted pictures from two different visits, the first in May 2009, the second in July 2008. There was obviously more water in May 2009 right after the snow had melted. Interestingly, the cool color of the bedrock is not as visible during periods of higher flow, but is better at low flow. The bedrock has a yellowish-brown hue to it.

Directions:

  1. Get onto M-94 between Munising and Chatham.
  2. Look for Alger County Road H-03. Turn onto this road. If you are heading east from Munising, it will be a right turn.
  3. After you turn onto H-03, you will turn right on the first road you see. It will be a dirt road.
  4. Continue on that road, and in a very short distance, you will come to a sign for a hydroelectric company. If you keep driving past that sign, you’ll end up at a gate.
  5. Park near the gate, and then walk past the gate downhill, where you’ll encounter Lower Au Train Falls. It is visible from many different viewpoints, including from a bridge crossing the river.

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

Lower Au Train Falls in May 2009

Lower Au Train Falls in July 2008

Where in the World is Lower Au Train Falls?

Scott Falls, Michigan

Scott Falls is a small falls. Scott Falls is a fun falls. The waterfall is so easy to get to, as it is right off of M-28. You can pull your car off the road, and you’re essentially twenty feet away, at most. The waterfall is easily missed though, if you’re not paying attention, as it is at an angle to the road.

When I visited in May 2009, there was a lot of water at the falls, and I did have to jump over a ditch full of water to get a closer view. I got wet, and the water was not particularly warm, as it was snow melt. In later months, that ditch dries up, and there isn’t as much water on the falls, though it is a perennial falls. You can get extremely close to the falls, and I even think you can walk underneath it. It’s just a really fun falls to visit.

Directions:

  1. As you’re driving along M-28, you’ll end up seeing the falls.
  2. If you start in Munising, the falls is about 8 miles outside of the city. You’ll travel west to get to the falls.
  3. There is a roadside park right across from the falls, named for H.J. Rathfoot. There is also a sign next to the falls, though as I mentioned it is only visible from one side. Also check out the roadside park, as you are only yards away from Lake Superior.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 12′
Length of Hike: Roadside

Scott Falls in May 2009

Scott Falls in October 2009

Where in the World is Scott Falls?

Tannery Falls, Michigan

Tannery Falls in July 2008

Tannery Falls, also known as Rudy M. Olson Memorial Falls, is one of the many waterfalls in the city of Munising. I actually really like this waterfall. I think it’s very photogenic and is in such a beautiful area.

I don’t fully remember the hike to the falls, but I do remember being surprised once I got to the falls. I think it may have been due to the fact that I had a different image in my head of what Tannery Falls looked like. It was taller than I expected. It’s narrower than I thought, too.

Directions:

  1. From the center of Munising, head west on H-58 for a little more than a mile.
  2. On your left, you’ll come to Washington Street. If you were to head down Washington Street, you’ll end up at Munising Falls. Instead, IMMEDIATELY after turning left onto Washington Street, park on the right side of the road. You may see other cars there already. If not, it’s not a problem to park there.
  3. From where you parked, carefully walk across H-58, where you should notice a trail that will lead up a hill. There will be a sign for the Michigan Nature Association indicating that you’re on the right trail.
  4. From there, follow the trail to the falls.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate, mildly steep in places, though not a long hike)
Height: 35′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Tannery Falls?

Wagner Falls, Michigan

The first portion of Wagner Falls (can be viewed from the boardwalk) in July 2008

When you first view Wagner Falls, you’re only seeing part of the picture. Much of the picture is hidden and you have to search to find the rest. That’s the fun part about Wagner Falls. There are three (possibly four) drops separated by short distances that create Wagner Falls, and there may be more cascades even further upstream.

In order to view the falls that are upstream, you’ll have to leave the viewing area and climb up some rather steep ground to view the other falls. You have to be extremely careful, not only for yourself but the flora and fauna beneath you. If you’re there in July or August, pay attention for the beautiful Spotted Coralroot, a small but beautiful orchid that survives without photosynthesis.

Directions:

  1. The simplest way to describe how to get to the falls is to suggest starting from the city of Munising.
  2. Head south on MI-28 from Munising.
  3. After a short distance, you’ll come to the junction of M-28 and M-94. Turn right onto M-94. (Note: Right at this junction, if you look to your left, you’ll see Alger Falls.)
  4. After turning onto M-94, drive a short distance to the parking area for the falls, which will be on your left. It’s right off of the road.
  5. From there, follow the trail to the falls. To see the other falls, you’ll have to leave the trails.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy for 1st falls), 5/10 (moderate for 2nd and 3rd Falls, below)
Height: 81′ (total drops)
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles for first falls, 0.9 miles for all falls

Segment #2 of Wagner Falls in May 2009

The 3rd, uppermost segment of Wagner Falls in May 2009

The first segment of the falls in October 2009

Where in the World is Wagner Falls?

Munising Falls, Michigan

Munising Falls in July 2008

Munising Falls is one of the more popular waterfalls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore partly because it is by far the easiest of the waterfalls to visit in the park. It’s essentially in the city limits of Munising (or at least very near), and the trail to the falls is very accessible, even if you have a handicap. Munising Falls is taller than it appears, but even in the spring, it doesn’t have a huge amount of water flowing over. It is still a year-round falls, though.

While you’re at Munising Falls, check out the sandstone. Many of the waterfalls in the area have carved through sandstone, as has much of the Pictured Rocks, and this is one of the best places to view it up close and personal. While you can see the falls from multiple different viewpoints, one of the viewpoints is accessible from a trail that heads up to a higher view of the falls. The sandstone comes in many different colors and is very interesting to touch. Look out for a lot of little “caverns” or holes formed in the side of the rock.

Directions:

  1. From Munising, head east on Alger County Road H-58.
  2. Turn left on Sand Point Road and follow the road to the signs indicating the parking area for Munising Falls.

*If you continue down Sand Point Road past Munising Falls, you can also visit a very nice, sandy beach and the Sand Point Marsh Trail, which is a beautiful trail with lots of wildflowers and wildlife.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

The falls in August 2009

Where in the World is Munising Falls?

Mosquito Falls, Michigan

I guess Mosquito Falls might get left to the wayside. In the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, there are other more interesting waterfalls than this one. Even so, if you’re checking out Chapel Falls or Chapel Beach, you can visit Mosquito Falls. There are multiple interconnecting trails that lead to these falls and others.

Mosquito Falls has two distinct drops on the Mosquito River. Both of them are only 4-5′ tall. The upper falls can be viewed better (more directly), while the lower falls is viewed from above, or at least at less photogenic angle. The hike to the falls is enjoyable, though I remember it being muddy and slippery…not steep at all, but muddy and slippery.

Directions:

  1. From Munising, head east on H-58. Head about 16-17 miles on H-58 going east.
  2. You’ll pass through a town called Melstrand. A mile or two after that, you’ll come upon a sign indicating the entrance to the Chapel Area of the Pictured Rocks.
  3. You’ll turn left on that road, Chapel Road.
  4. You’ll head five or six miles down Chapel Road. Stay on Chapel Road, which is not paved for much of the way.
  5. Chapel Road will end at the parking area that leads to Mosquito Falls, Chapel Falls, Lower Chapel Falls, and Chapel Rock.
  6. The direct trial to Mosquito Falls is the trail furthest to the left, I believe. Check the signs if you are in doubt. The signs clearly direct you to which trail leads where. The trail to Mosquito Falls is about 0.8 miles one way.

***If you don’t mind a longer hike, I think you can do a loop hike, passing by Mosquito Falls, connecting onto the North Country Trail and then reconnecting onto the Chapel Falls Trail. The North Country Trail will follow the Lake Superior shoreline.
***Also, if you listen as you begin your hike to Mosquito Falls, you may hear another waterfall. I guess there’s a “hidden” one near the beginning of the trail, though at that time, I didn’t explore further. I did hear the waterfall, though.

Accessibility: 7/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Height: 4′ (lower), 4′ (upper)
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip

Lower Mosquito Falls in July 2008

Upper Mosquito Falls in July 2008

Where in the World is Mosquito Falls?

Horseshoe Falls, Michigan

Horseshoe Falls in July 2008

While not a large waterfall, or even one with a lot of flow, Horseshoe Falls is interesting because of its shape – the middle section has a horseshoe shape! The waterfall, which is on private property but accessible to the public for a fee, is interesting enough that you should stop and see it at least once. It’s also in the immediate vicinity of at least five other waterfalls.

As I said, there is a fee to see the Falls. I paid $5 by myself, or there is a family option for $15. While it does cost something, the area around the falls is very well protected and in great condition. There’s no trash around the falls or anything to detract from its beauty. Along the way to the falls, you will pass by some beautiful wildflowers, which the owners have identified. During July, pay attention for some rather inconspicuous native orchids that pop up along the trail. You can also feed the ducks and trout, which eat the food insanely fast.

Directions:

  1. You will be traveling on M-28 right in the city of Munising.
  2. From M-28, turn onto Prospect Street. There are large signs indicating where to turn for Horseshoe Falls.
  3. You will then turn onto Bell Street. Head to the end of Bell Street.
  4. Enter the gift shop, pay the entrance fee, and then you’re almost there!

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 35′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

DSC_1884

The falls in July 2013

Where in the World is Horseshoe Falls?

Rock River Falls, Michigan

Where do I even begin with Rock River Falls? Rock River Falls may go down as one of the waterfalls I’ve most gone out of my way to visit. Visiting the falls involves a 4+ mile trip down a single-lane, dirt forest road. I’m lucky that nobody else was visiting the falls when I was. Otherwise, I don’t know how our vehicles would have passed each other…

Compared to other roads, the unpaved forest road is in pretty good condition. It’s not extremely rocky, you’re not climbing up a steep incline, etc. You’re just in the middle of nowhere! If you get stuck, which could be very possible on a rainy day, you’ve got a 4 mile hike just to the county road you turn off of, and then you’ve got to hike even more to find another person! For those of you who like to go off the beaten path, THIS is the waterfall for you.

Taking my smaller car down the path wasn’t too bad. There are some grasses in the road that brush up against the car. A truck would be ideal, though. I am not really into four-wheelers/ATVs, but I could definitely see using one to get to Rock River Falls.

Note: If you’re headed in toward Rock River Falls, Silver Bell Falls is found by taking the right fork of step 3/4.  I haven’t posted anything about Silver Bell Falls because it was at extremely low flow, and the photographs I have are awful. There may be a gate blocking you partway down this “road”. It wasn’t closed, so I kept going. Beware!  Even though the road looks like it keeps going, it actually ends VERY abruptly. I almost got stuck trying to back my way out. Stop at the large turnaround area just before the road appears to get very uneven.

Directions:

  1. You can access the falls from either M-28 or M-94. From one of those paved highways, turn onto H-01. From M-28, you’ll be heading south on H-01.
  2. Drive a distance until you have reached Forest Road 2276 (aka Sandstrom Road). If you’re heading south, FR-2276 will be on your right.
  3. Head about 3.7 miles on FR-2276. You will reach a fork in the “road”.
  4. Take the left fork and head another 0.5 miles or so. (Taking the right fork will lead to Silver Bell Falls.)
  5. On your left, you should notice a small sign. It doesn’t say that Rock River Falls is nearby. It just indicates a trail head.
  6. From here, follow the trail to the falls. The trail was actually pretty obvious, though there were definitely some muddy parts.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate, once you’ve gotten to the trail head)
Height: 18′
Length of Hike: 1.8 miles round-trip

Rock River Falls in July 2008

Where in the World is Rock River Falls?

Upper Au Train Falls, Michigan

There are two major drops on the Au Train River, distant enough from each other that I’ll talk about each of them separately. Upper Au Train Falls is a very pretty waterfall/cascade. The amount of water that you will see cascading down the falls is wildly variable, dependent on both rainfall and the amount of water allowed to flow from the dam directly upstream. I have included two photos, the first from May 2009, when there was a considerable amount of water. The second photo was taken in July 2008, when there was MUCH less water flowing.

How close you can get to the falls is somewhat dependent on the amount of water flowing over. If the flow is low, you can easily “rock-jump” across the little streams. If the flow is higher, you may have no other choice but to wade and get wet if you want to get a closer view. To get down to the falls, you do have to maneuver your way down a rather muddy trail.

Directions:

  1. Get onto M-94 between Munising and Chatham.
  2. Look for Alger County Road H-03. Turn onto this road. If you are heading east from Munising, it will be a right turn.
  3. After you turn onto H-03, you will turn right on the first road you see. It will be a dirt road.
  4. Continue on that road, and in a very short distance, you will come to a sign for a hydroelectric company, and from that parking area, Upper Au Train Falls will be very visible.

Accessibility: 10/10 (to view from roadside)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip (to get closer to falls)

Upper Au Train Falls in May 2009

Upper Au Train Falls in July 2008

Where in the World is Upper Au Train Falls?