Amnicon Falls #2, Wisconsin

I am a bit surprised I haven’t already posted about this waterfall along the Amnicon River in Amnicon Falls State Park. I think it may be due to the way I named it on my photo site. It’s a smaller waterfall, but I’ll still mention it nonetheless.

Amnicon Falls State Park is one of those locations that is just plain enjoyable to explore. You’ll find a surprising number of waterfalls in the park: Upper Falls, Lower Falls, Amnicon Falls #1 and #3, Snake Pit Falls, and Now and Then Falls. You’ll find these along different trails. Amnicon Falls #2 is just another of the falls you’ll find!  And while you’re in the area, also check out Pattison State Park, where you’ll find Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou 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 river. For this falls, I believe you need to cross the Amnicon River at some point.  If I remember correctly, it is near Snake Pit Falls, so head in that direction.

Accessibility: 9/10 (more for the confusing loop of trails than anything else)
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles or so (can be longer)
Height: 15′

Where in the World is Amnicon Falls #2?: map

Amnicon Falls #2 in May 2010

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Upper Falls, Wisconsin

I’ve always wished people could become a little bit more creative when naming waterfalls. Upper Falls does clearly describe that is a waterfall further upstream along the Amnicon River, but it’s just not that exciting from a naming perspective! Even “Upper Amnicon Falls” would provide more information about where it’s located, and it could probably be referred to that way! There is the equally as exciting Lower Falls, which is actually pretty cool (as is Upper Falls). If you’re in the same park, there are two falls that were better named, Snake Pit Falls and Now and Then Falls. And then there are other drops that I don’t know if they really have a name, so I’ve called them #1, #2, and #3.

I mention these to indicate what you really get when you visit Amnicon Falls State Park is at least 7 waterfalls! Upper Falls is pretty neat, but you have to take all of them together to appreciate them. It’s a very nice park, and if I had family there, I would totally be taking them there all of the time. It’s really fun to explore all of the trails to find even more falls, even though they aren’t particularly tall. (Upper Falls maybe clocks in at 10′ or so…) And if this doesn’t excite you, don’t forget Big Manitou and Little Manitou Falls aren’t that far away (in Pattison State Park). (Big Manitou clocks in at 165′ tall.)

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. You’ll see Lower Falls, and then you can head upstream to see Upper Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10

Where in the World is Upper Falls?: map

Upper Falls in May 2010

Snake Pit Falls, Wisconsin

Northern Wisconsin has a number of great waterfalls, and if you’re looking to see a whole bunch in a single hike, then head to Amnicon Falls State Park (which is not that far from Pattison State Park, which contains Big and Little Manitou Falls). Inside Amnicon Falls State Park, there are the not-so-creatively named Upper and Lower Falls, along with other falls along the river (#1 and #3 have been posted). The waterfall with the coolest name, by far, is Snake Pit Falls, and it is a really beautiful waterfall also.

While it does require a little bit of exploring the loop trail, Snake Pit Falls is clearly marked with a sign. It’s hard to say how tall this portion of the falls is. After searching around on the internet, I later discovered there is another drop a few feet after the one shown below. I may have photographed the lower drop during the exploration, but I didn’t seem to notice both drops at the same time. The total drop is somewhere around 25′. I found this particular drop to be very scenic. Each of the drops along the Amnicon River seems to have its own distinct features. It doesn’t look like a series of continuous rapids that blend together over time. I’m guessing the falls flow year-round, except in extremely dry conditions. It had literally just snowed minutes before, lending a certain chilly but appropriate ambiance to the 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 start of the loop trail.

Accessibility: 9/10

Where in the World is Snake Pit Falls?: map

Snake Pit Falls in May 2010

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
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip
Height: 165′

Where in the World is Big Manitou Falls?: map

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

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:
There are multiple ways to access the falls.
A) From US-2/US-53 in Superior, head south on WI-35 for 13 miles, following the signs to Pattison State Park. The parking lot for Little Manitou Falls will be on your left (if you’re heading south), and the sign is angled in such a way that it can be hard to recognize at first.
B) If you’re coming from Amnicon Falls, which is relatively nearby, ask for directions from the park ranger. They are very helpful in letting you know which roads to avoid. Signs along the way will help you get to Pattison State Park.

Accessibility: 10/10

Where in the World is Little Manitou Falls?: map

Manitou Falls during the early May snow