Wright Street Falls, Michigan

I am visiting Marquette, Michigan right now, and have visited a number of times before. I forgot my Michigan waterfall book at home, so did a quick search, and found out there was an easy-to-visit waterfall right on the outskirts of Marquette. I decided to check it out today.

The waterfall, creatively named Wright Street Falls is right off of…wait for it…Wright Street. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find, and it ended up being very easy to find. Parking was more abundant than I expected, and the few tips I found online led me to the falls pretty quickly. It’s not a particularly tall waterfall, but it is actually wide. There is something that carries water right in front of the falls, so at first it may seem like you might not be able to get a great view, but you can get a better view. The directions I found suggested following the right side of the river, but I found that the left side of the river had better views of the falls.

Directions:

  1. Wright Street starts off of US-41 right after a Target, but you can get to the parking area by turning on Wright Street at any point.
  2. If you start on US-41, turn right onto Wright Street after the Target. The website I found suggested the parking area was 1.5 miles from the Target. If you follow this step, the parking area will be to your left. It is a surprisingly large dirt parking area. There is a yellow sign there, and if you look to your left, you will see a bridge crossing a river. Pedestrians and bikers are allowed on the bridge. There is another parking area that seems to follow the same description a few hundred feet further east, and you could park there also, but it would require a longer hike to the falls. If you’ve reached the Marquette Board of Power and Light, you’ve passed the parking area, so you should turn around and head back.
  3. Once you reach the parking area, there are two options. You can cross the bridge, and then veer left. There is a clear path that crosses under a large pipe that is carrying water, and you’ll end up on the right side of the falls. I found that viewpoint wasn’t as great, though still got most of the falls. Instead of crossing the bridge, there is a trail to the left of the river that heads downhill. It is a bit steep, but once you’ve conquered that, the rest of the trail on the left side is pretty level. The trail on the left side of the river leads to a more complete view of the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, for right side of the river), 8/10 (easy/moderate, for the left side of the river)
Height: 9′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Wright Street Falls (46)

Wright Street Falls in July 2019

Where in the World is Wright Street Falls?

Dead River Falls #5, Michigan

I first visited the waterfalls on the Dead River in 2009. At the time, I was rather surprised. The book I had made it seem like the waterfalls were not particularly interesting. Instead, I found (at least) four wonderful waterfalls (Dead River Falls #1, #2, #3, and #4). After reaching the 4th waterfall, I tried to see if there was any clear path to continue along the river, but for some reason decided there wasn’t. I could see one more rather small drop in the distance, but couldn’t figure out how to get closer.

I went back in 2011, and found the trail to be closed due to upgrades of some sort, so I wasn’t able to explore the falls again. I hadn’t visited the Upper Peninsula much after that, so decided that this year would be the time to visit the falls again. The trail to the falls was reopened a few years ago.

I had hoped that they had solved some of the issues that exist with the trail, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Most of the trail is relatively safe, but there are one or two areas where it could be rather dangerous. At one point early in the hike, you have to follow the trail parallel to the river, and the trail is narrow and gets very close to a 15-20′ drop. One wrong step, and you could fall very near the river. I erred on the side of caution and tried to hike further up. A friend of mine almost slipped on the way back.

All of it is honestly worth it, though. This time, the trail to the fifth waterfall (also known as Stony Mills Falls) was much clearer. After reaching the fourth falls, it was a relatively easy hike near the riverbank to get to the fifth waterfall. I was surprised to find another moderately sized waterfall along the river, though I really didn’t know what to expect! There is a way to get close to the falls, but I decided against climbing further uphill. I was content with the view that I had from the rocks in the river.

Directions:

  1. From US-41/M-28 in Marquette, you are going to turn at Wright Street near the Target and Taco Bell.
  2. Drive a short distance to Forestville Road, and take a left.
  3. Continue driving on that road for about 3 miles. You will curve left at one point and end up at a dam/power plant. (As a note, Reany River Falls is only a few yards from this parking lot.)
  4. From the parking area, head toward the bathrooms. You will see a trail leading up the side of a hill underneath power lines. Head up that trail.
  5. There is a sign pointing to the falls. You can follow the sign and it will get you to the first waterfall.
  6. From there, continue upstream. You will have to climb up a hill, which was moderately steep. It will help to follow the sound of the river. From the top of the hill, you should be able to find the trail leading to the other falls. The trail hugs the river.

When I visited in 2011, access to these falls was closed. After visiting in 2017, I can confirm that the trail has been reopened. I had hoped that maybe the trail had been re-routed to avoid some of the steeper parts of the trail, but that’s not the case. Please exercise caution when visiting these falls.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip

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Dead River Falls #5 (Stony Mill Falls) in early August 2017

Where in the World is Dead River Falls #5 (Stony Mill Falls)?

Dead River Falls #3, Michigan

It’s crazy to think that I visited the Dead River waterfalls just under 8 years ago. When I first started actively looking for waterfalls, I found many of them in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I almost skipped out on the Dead River Falls because they didn’t sound particularly exciting. But luckily I decided to go for it, and don’t regret it one bit. These falls are more impressive than I expected.

As I mentioned before in posts for Dead River Falls #1#2, and #4, these falls have a bit of danger associated with them (more so than some falls). To get to falls 2 through 4 (with others even further along the trail), the trail leads you very close to the river, and it’s a rather precarious trail. The river was clearly flowing well, and one misstep could have been problematic, to say the least. That being said, if you’re careful, you’ll be rewarded with views of these beautiful falls. It just so happens the third fall here is the least scenic of the bunch, with the second and fourth falls being very impressive.

Directions:

  1. From US-41/M-28 in Marquette, you are going to turn at Wright Street near the Target and Taco Bell.
  2. Drive a short distance to Forestville Road, and take a left.
  3. Continue driving on that road for about 3 miles. You will curve left at one point and end up at a dam/power plant. (As a note, Reany River Falls is only a few yards from this parking lot.)
  4. From the parking area, head toward the bathrooms. You will see a trail leading up the side of a hill underneath power lines. Head up that trail.
  5. There is a sign pointing to the falls. You can follow the sign and it will get you to the first waterfall.
  6. From there, continue upstream. You will have to climb up a hill, which was moderately steep. It will help to follow the sound of the river. From the top of the hill, you should be able to find the trail leading to the other falls. The trail hugs the river.

When I visited in 2011, access to these falls was closed. After visiting in 2017, I can confirm that the trail has been reopened. I had hoped that maybe the trail had been re-routed to avoid some of the steeper parts of the trail, but that’s not the case. Please exercise caution when visiting these falls.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: ~6′
Length of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip

dead-3

Dead River Falls #3 in May 2009

Where in the World is Dead River Falls #3?

Pothole Falls, Michigan

Pothole Falls in June 2006

I used to call this an unnamed waterfall, only to discover that people have given it some type of designation. I’ve decided to refer to it as Pothole Falls, though some refer to it as The Potholes. This is one of the more widely photographed waterfalls/features in the park, even though it isn’t a very tall waterfall.

Pothole Falls is found downstream from the much larger Manabezho Falls (which is downstream from Manido and Nawadaha Falls). While those falls are larger, they are “normal” waterfalls. Pothole Falls is really more of a collection of potholes, formed as rocks caused deeper erosion in the river bed. And while the potholes are not particularly large, they are very photogenic. I visited in early June 2006, and there was still enough water flowing down the river to obscure some of the potholes. If you visit later in the summer, less water flowing down the river will likely be a good thing, as the potholes will become more prominent.

These should be very easy to visit. There is a nice trail system to the waterfalls along the Presque Isle River, and if you follow the trail downstream, there should be a bridge over the river where the falls can be viewed easily. When I visited in September 2010, I believe the bridge over the Presque Isle that would have provided the view was closed, so I’m not sure if that has been fixed. I would think so, but follow any posted signs. (In September 2010, I’m not sure I would have been able to see the potholes or the falls because the water level was extremely high…some of the highest levels anybody had seen, especially considering it was not spring.)

Directions:

  1. From US-2 in Wakefield, head north of M-28 for a short ways.
  2. Turn left onto Thomaston Road (which may be numbered County Road 519).
  3. If it is not numbered Co. Road 519, you will soon end up connecting into Co. Road 519. From there, just keep driving north for a ways. You will end up entering the West Entrance to the park.
  4. The parking area for the short trail to the Manabezho Falls is clearly marked. From that viewpoint, head downstream toward the bridge, if it’s in use.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 3′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Pothole Falls?

Bonanza Falls, Michigan

When I visited the Upper Peninsula in September 2010, there had been significant rainfall in the area for days. This had lead to waterfalls flowing at their best, and Bonanza Falls happened to be one of the stops along the way. It really goes to show how much waterfalls can “change.”

When my father and I arrived at Bonanza Falls, for a moment I wasn’t even sure I was at the right waterfall. In the book, it showed trickles of water flowing over maybe 5% of the available river. Instead, we saw most of the river covered in water, and we could tell that what had once been mostly dry land with plants had been covered with water. The river was definitely at full force. From the photos, you might be able to tell a significant amount of mud and tannins were being carried along with the water, making the water “root beer” colored.

There are three or four drops along the river (which are often more noticeable), and the total drop is at most 10′ tall. You might wonder why you should visit the falls. Well, after a heavy rain or during the spring snowmelt, the falls are pretty impressive. And when we visited in late September, the trees were starting to change, adding even more color to the view. In the depths of summer, it might not be as exciting. I might not go out of my way to visit Bonanza Falls, though it is very easy to visit and is near a number of other waterfalls in the Porcupine Mountains.

Directions:

  1. From Ontonagon, head southwest along MI-64.
  2. You will come to an intersection. You can either turn left and continue south on MI-64 or you can head west, entering the boundary of Porcupine Mountains State Park (heading to Lake of the Clouds).  TURN LEFT and continue on MI-64.
  3. About a mile after turning, you’ll see a sign for Bonanza Falls on your right. Turn right onto this gravel road and drive the very short distance to the parking area near the river. You shouldn’t need to search for the falls. If you don’t see them after seeing the river, you’re at the wrong place!

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 14′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Bonanza Falls (at high flow) in late September 2010

Where in the World is Bonanza Falls?

Black River Falls, Michigan

Black River Falls in June 2006

There’s only one other waterfall I can remember visiting before Black River Falls, so it’s not the first, but it’s pretty darn close. (Tahquamenon Falls wins that distinction.) I’m guessing this is the waterfall that set everything in motion, though. I had visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a few times because of a college friend, and had started exploring the area. She had mentioned that there was this waterfall nearby, and I joined along for the ride. Who knew I’d be approaching 700+ waterfalls eight years later.

Compared to other waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula, Black River Falls isn’t even wildly impressive. It’s a nice waterfall, though it might not be much in the depths of summer. In early June, you’re still likely to be find water flowing at many waterfalls, since it hasn’t been that long since the snow melt! It does take a bit of effort to get to the base, as I remember stubbing my toe on a rock (hard enough that it clearly bruised). If you’re in the Marquette/Ishpeming area, I might go and check this out. Otherwise, this requires some drive out into the quiet areas outside of town, so I wouldn’t go out of my way for just this falls. (Luckily, the Upper Peninsula has no lack of waterfalls, so you’re probably in close proximity to another one.)

Directions:

  1. From Ishpeming, head south on County Road 571 (or PI Road).
  2. At the intersection with County Road 581 (aka Saginaw Street), turn right onto County Road 581 (heading west/southwest).  Go about 8 miles after taking this turn.
  3. On your right, you’ll see signs indicating “Island Lake Club” and “Falls.” Turn right here.
  4. Go about 0.6 miles to a fork in the road. Take the right fork.
  5. Drive for another 0.3 miles on County Road CCP. You should see a sign that says “Falls.” Turn at that sign and go to the end, where you’ll find a parking area.
  6. Head right to the river, where you should hear the falls, even from the parking area.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Black River Falls?

Peterson Falls, Michigan/Wisconsin

Just outside of Ironwood and Hurley are two waterfalls found within a short distance of each other. The short distance between the two has created a significant amount of confusion about the identity of the falls. Some books have referred to the falls as Interstate Falls, while others called it Peterson Falls, or both at the same time! It ends up that Peterson Falls is the upstream waterfall, while Interstate Falls is downstream.

I’ve visited Peterson Falls twice, and the visits could not have been different. On the first visit August 2008, there was enough water flowing to call it a waterfall, but one could probably rock hop to the Michigan side. You could actually see three separate portions of the falls.

Peterson Falls in August 2008

In September 2010, there had been a significant amount of rain just before visiting. The falls were wildly different. There would have been absolutely no way to rock hop, as the falls were inundated by water. It actually lost a little bit of its character. (I wasn’t even sure where to photograph…)

Peterson Falls in September 2010

It is much easier to visit them from the Wisconsin side, so follow the directions below to ensure you’re standing in Wisconsin! Interstate Falls is to the left on the trails. Peterson Falls is to the right. At one point the trails intersect, but it can be a little bit confusing. Just don’t leave after seeing only one waterfall! They’re very close to each other. And if you’re exerting yourself to see either falls, you’re probably not on the right path. Both falls are very easy to visit.

Directions:

  1. From Ironwood/Hurley, head west on US-2. You will pass from Michigan into Wisconsin.
  2. After a short distance, you will see Center Drive on your right. If you take a look, you will even notice a white sign for one of the falls.
  3. Turn right onto Center Drive, a dirt road, a head down it. At one point, you will veer right.
  4. There is a dirt pit in the area, so that’s likely how you’ll know you’re in the right area. The road is blocked by a small “rock wall”. From this sandy parking area, head down a well-worn trail to the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Peterson Falls?