Sable Falls, Michigan

I’ve visited Sable Falls three times in the past five years, and it always seems to surprise me. The pictures of Sable Falls can never do it justice. I think it might have to do with the fact that it has multiple drops that lead to a sort of optical illusion.  Each drop is rather large but it definitely doesn’t look like that!

The very short hike to the waterfall seems to have changed since my first visit in 2005, though maybe I just don’t remember it that well. During my first visit, I seem to remember that you could walk up very close to the falls without any difficulty. In 2008, many stairs had been built and viewpoints had been installed. At the end of the viewpoint at the base, it now is “blocked” off from leaving the approved trail, though I can tell that people still do find a way.

While there are many waterfalls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sable Falls is essentially off by its lonely self. On the western side of the park (near Munising), there are a multitude of falls within a 10 or 15 mile radius. Sable Falls is really the only major fall in its general vicinity. If you’re in the area, check out Grand Marais and the Grand Sable Dunes, as you won’t find many other waterfalls in the area.

Directions:

  1. From M-28, head north on M-77 until you enter the village of Grand Marais.
  2. At the intersection of M-77 and County Road H-58, turn left and head west on H-58.
  3. After just 2 miles or so, you’ll come to the parking area for Sable Falls, which is clearly marked. If you drive a short distance further, you’ll come to the East Visitor’s Center.
  4. At the Sable Falls parking area, follow the signs to the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, there are stairs)
Height: 25′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Sable Falls in May 2008

Where in the World is Sable Falls?

Laughing Whitefish Falls, Michigan

The uppermost portion of Laughing Whitefish Falls in July 2008

Laughing Whitefish Falls is one of the taller waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’m a really bad judge of heights, but from other sources, it is about 100′ tall. That would definitely put it as the first or second tallest in the state. There are two parts to the falls, an initial, but short, vertical drop, followed by the much longer slide down. If this waterfall were in Pennsylvania or New York, it would have been surely called Buttermilk Falls, since this is one of the few waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula to have that “consistency.” Here in the Upper Peninsula, though, we have the interestingly named Laughing Whitefish Falls.

While not as widely known as Bond Falls or Tahquamenon Falls, it is still an impressive falls…impressive enough that it has its own scenic site set aside by the state. The hike to the falls is very enjoyable, though the drive down the dirt road to the parking area is pretty insane. I can’t recall many other dirt roads that have been more covered in potholes and deep grooves. I was actually concerned for my car. It’s a short way, though. Just go very slow!

After hiking to the falls, you will notice you are standing at the crest of the falls. You can take the numerous stairs down to the base of the falls, though the viewing platform could prevent you from further exploring the falls. Some people were slipping through the platform to get a better view.

Directions:

  1. From Munising, drive west on M-94 for a considerable way.
  2. Turn north onto Dorsey Road and drive 2.8 miles to the end of the road, which will be the parking area for Laughing Whitefish Falls.
  3. After parking, head down the relatively flat trail to the falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (to crest), 7/10 (down the stairs)
Height: 100′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip

The falls in August 2010

Where in the World is Laughing Whitefish Falls?

Haven Falls, Michigan

Haven Falls in May 2009

Haven Falls is one of the more isolated waterfalls in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Off of a rather desolate stretch of US-41, you’ll turn onto Lac La Belle Road, which is also rather quiet. (Lac La Belle Rd. is paved. Some GPS units will suggest you take other roads which are often unpaved. Do not follow those directions, but instead the much safer Lac La Belle Rd.) The falls are found near Lac La Belle, and is surrounded by a number of houses. The area is beautiful and the falls, while smaller, is very pretty. The falls also benefit from being very easily accessed once you have finally arrived. They are just feet from the parking area in very plain view.

Heading back toward Houghton, I headed east toward Lake Superior and the Keweenaw Bay. If you head this way, you will be treated with an amazingly beautiful stretch of the lakeshore for a number of miles. Bete Grise Road leads you toward some very small towns/villages/unincorporated areas that are very interesting. A GPS can be helpful, since the roads are rather distant.

Directions:

  1. Heading north on US-41 in the Keweenaw Peninsula, turn onto Lac La Belle Rd. Head for about 4 miles down the paved road to a split in the road.
  2. Turn right at the split in the road and head about 0.5 miles to the park where the falls are very easily accessed. The park is just across from a lake.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Haven Falls?

Sandstone Falls, Michigan

Sandstone Falls, which clearly gets it’s name from the surrounding sandstone rock, is the fourth of five major waterfalls along the Black River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Out of the five waterfall, it is probably the least interesting. It’s not that it isn’t a nice waterfall to visit, it’s that the other four waterfalls are so uniquely shaped. Even so, what I love about the Black River is that the five waterfalls you can visit are all different shapes, heights, and widths. There is no repetition here.

Directions:

  1. From US-2, turn north onto Gogebic County Road 513.
  2. Head north on CR-513 for about 13 miles, where you will notice the first waterfall (the furthest upstream), Great Conglomerate Falls. You can park there to access all of the falls on one trail.
  3. Head down to the third parking area on the right, which will be the trail head to Sandstone Falls. From there, head down to the falls.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Sandstone Falls in August 2008

Where in the World is Sandstone Falls?

Manganese Falls, Michigan

Manganese Falls in May 2009

Manganese Falls is one of the most intriguing waterfalls I’ve seen in Michigan. Much of the waterfall is actually hidden from view due to trees and the intensely sharp and curving drops of the falls. It may not be the most spectacular or photogenic waterfall in the Keweenaw Peninsula and Michigan.

I say it’s intriguing, though, because of how interesting it still is. The waterfall starts off with a easy-to-view cascade, and then from there, it takes a rather sharp drop that really disappears from view. It then reappears, but only from a different viewpoint. At that viewpoint, you realize that the waterfall drops again, and you can’t fully see all of the falls below you. What might be the most intriguing is that I’m not really sure how far the falls drops below that viewpoint. I know there’s more below, but how much more? I believe that I’ve seen a picture or two from the base, but the way to access it escapes me, as this has some of the steepest rock faces that I’ve seen in Michigan.

Directions:

  1. You can come up to Copper Harbor from either M-26 or US-41 heading north.
  2. At the intersection of those two roads, head east to the Copper Harbor Community and Visitor Center, which will be on the right.
  3. Turn right onto the street immediately past that building. Go 0.7 miles on that road. A sign for the falls will be found on the right side of the road.
  4. After finding the sign, walk across the road where the sound of the waterfall is emanating, and a viewpoint will be there. Explore to get other viewpoints of the waterfall, but BE CAREFUL. There are surprisingly steep drops that come unexpectedly.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Manganese Falls?

Upper Alder Falls, Michigan

Just a short distance upstream from Alder Falls is another smaller drop along Alder Creek. I’m calling it Upper Alder Falls. The waterfall is only about 8′ tall, but it’s a very pretty smaller waterfall in a wildly beautiful area of the Upper Peninsula.

In order to get to the falls, you’ve first got to go down a rather narrow, muddy road, though it’s not too bad. It’s just hard to find. Then, you’ll hike down a surprisingly steep hill. You’ll be hanging on to the trees and branches surrounding you. After seeing Alder Falls, head along the trail upstream. Just above Alder Falls, you’ll have to cross Alder Creek. It’s not as easy as it seems. It was easy going across the creek. I crossed using a log that had fallen across the creek. On the way back, though, the log seemed much slipperier and thinner, which complicated things. Waders might actually be appropriate here.

Directions:

  1. From Marquette, head north on Co. Rd. 515, aka Big Bay Rd. You’ll be heading toward Big Bay.
  2. After heading north for more than 20 miles, you’ll come upon the village of Alder, which is hidden. There is a road on your right, County Road KS, that you will pass.
  3. DIRECTLY after passing that road, there will be a road on your left, the Alder Creek Truck Trail. Turn left here.
  4. The road forks. Take the left fork.
  5. Go for about 0.7 miles down the single-lane dirt road. On your right, you’ll come to a “parking area”, and you’ll notice a trail heading downhill.
  6. Head down the trail and then head upstream of Alder Falls for a short distance. Cross Alder Creek just above Alder Falls.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 8′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Upper Alder Falls in October 2009

Where in the World is Upper Alder Falls?

Chapel Falls, Michigan

Chapel Falls is another example of a great waterfall to be found in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, one of my favorite places to visit. I’ve visited this area at least once every year, if not more than that.

The trail heading to the falls is absolutely beautiful. I hiked it in July, and even then it was amazing. I can only imagine how pretty it must be in late May and early June when all of the wildflowers are in bloom. As you’re hiking along, you may hear a trickle along the way, which may be another waterfall hidden away from sight. You’ll know when you reach Chapel Falls, as this waterfall is almost impossible to miss. I believe it is taller than it first appears. The only problem is that the viewpoints are somewhat prohibitive. There are two or three different viewpoints, two being before you cross the Chapel River, with the other being found after crossing the Chapel River. The one after crossing reveals that the falls are much more extensive than first would be expected.

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, Chapel Beach Falls, and Chapel Rock.
  6. The trail head furthest to the right leads to Chapel Falls, Chapel Beach Falls, and Chapel Beach. The first major stop on that trail is Chapel Falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: 2.6 miles round-trip

Chapel Falls in July 2008

Where in the World is Chapel Falls?

Dead River Falls #4, Michigan

There are some waterfalls that I’ve visited where I’ve had high expectations, and it’s not that I’m terribly disappointed, but not I’m not always sure what the attraction is. On the other hand, there are other waterfalls where my expectations are very low, and I am overwhelmed when I finally see the waterfall. There are two very impressive waterfalls on the Dead River right near Marquette.

I wasn’t expecting much because of the description I read in the book about Michigan waterfalls. I hadn’t seen any pictures, so I really didn’t know what to expect. The first waterfall is not that exciting, but wow, the 2nd waterfall is truly amazing. I wasn’t sure whether to keep walking along, but I did. The 3rd waterfall is small, but I decided to keep going. There was one turn along the trail where I suddenly realized that the 4th waterfall was going to be spectacular. It was early May, and the amount of snow melt created a great surprise. The waterfall is maybe 30′ tall or so, but the amount of water flowing over the falls was amazing. This group of waterfalls isn’t advertised that much, so you’ll likely be alone.

Also, I should mention, if I haven’t already, that the trail leading to the falls, while not terribly dangerous, would be best described as precarious at a few specific points. At one point, you’ll be hugging the dirt trail that is only feet from a river that is flowing VERY fast, at least in May. If you’re not careful, you’ll be carried away by the very swift current. As long as you’re paying close attention, I think you’ll be ok.

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: 1.1 miles round-trip

dead-4

Dead River Falls #4 in May 2009

Where in the World is Dead River Falls #4?

Powerhouse Falls, Michigan

Powerhouse Falls is one of a number of waterfalls on the aptly named Falls River. The name of the falls is also very appropriate, since it is found directly next to a powerhouse, which I don’t think is currently functional. I appreciate when waterfall names make at least some sense!

Powerhouse Falls is the waterfall furthest upstream on the Falls River, though there could possibly be more upstream that are not accessible. All of the waterfalls along the river have very odd access points, and this one is no exception. In order to get to the falls, I parked at the beginning of a road that had been blocked off. As I started walking down the dirt road, it can get a little confusing. You’ll have to take a right turn, and from there, you’ll just have to follow the sound of the falls. Right near the falls, there is a picnic area. I guess it felt odd because it seemed like people should be driving down the road and using the picnic area, but nobody was to be found.

Directions:

  1. On US-41, about 1.5 miles south of L’Anse, turn onto Power Dam Road.
  2. Go a little less than a mile. You’ll cross a railroad track and you’ll meet E. River Road.
  3. If I remember correctly, you should park right near the intersection of Power Dam Road. and E. River Road. It looks like Power Dam Road continues, though there will be plastic fencing preventing you from driving further. Park here.
  4. Start walking down that blocked-off road. At one point, you will see the road continue on or you can veer to the right. Turn right.
  5. From here, head down the road to the end, where you’ll find the picnic area, the powerhouse, and the waterfall.
  6. Explore upstream of the falls, where you’ll find some pretty rapids.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 13′
Length of Hike: roadside (though I don’t know if I could get right to the powerhouse)

Powerhouse Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Powerhouse Falls?

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?