Alger Falls, Michigan

Alger Falls in July 2008

I believe that Alger Falls might win the award as my most visited waterfall anywhere. I live in Michigan, so it makes sense that one of the falls in Michigan might be the most visited…but why Alger Falls?

Alger Falls is by no means the tallest, widest, or most impressive waterfall in the state (or even county, for that matter). Photographing it can even be difficult because the sun seems to like to play games with the falls.

And yet the reason that the sun plays games is also likely the reason that I’ve seen it so many times. It’s wildly easy to visit. It is a roadside waterfall, just a hundred feet or so from M-28. This is not some back highway with very few cars. This is the main road leading into Munising. At certain times of the year you might not see many cars, and yet during the summer, it’s crawling with people. And if you’re heading into Munising, there’s a pretty high probability you’ll be passing Alger Falls.

The falls are off at an angle, so the first time, there was some hesitation about where to park. Pull off, and you’ll be OK. There’s a sign indicating you’re at the right place. After the first visit, it becomes much less difficult to recognize where the falls are. I think I’ve shown the falls to nearly every person I’ve visited the Upper Peninsula with. Oh, and another benefit…Wagner Falls is less than a quarter of a mile away, and Horseshoe FallsTannery FallsMemorial Falls, and Munising Falls are within a few miles. If you don’t mind expanding the radius further, there are at least 20 relatively easy-to-visit falls in Alger County alone.

Directions:

  1. Heading north along M-28, just about 2 miles from the center of Munising, you’ll find Alger Falls off on your right. There’s a green sign (hard to read at a distance) that indicates you’ve reached the falls!

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 35′
Length of Hike: Roadside

A view of the falls in October 2009

Where in the World is Alger Falls?

Memorial Falls, Michigan

Memorial Falls in October 2009

Memorial Falls definitely “falls” into the category of “Waterfalls I’ve had the most difficult time photographing”. I haven’t visited the falls in about three years, but it took three tries before I got relatively decent shots of the falls.

Let me just say that it is definitely worth a visit to MNA Memorial Falls, even if the waterfall doesn’t want to play along with you. The hike to the falls is very cool. As you begin to descend into the gorge, there are sandstone cliffs just next door to you. It’s a really neat experience.

The first time I visited the falls, I did not have the best of cameras. The second time I had a better camera, but it’s hard to deny the fact that this is a tricky waterfall to photograph. Because of the shape at the crest of the falls, it’s almost as if the light is amplified, and the photos can show up very washed out. It wasn’t until the the third try that I finally got some shots that weren’t completely overwhelmed by the light around me. Showing up earlier in the day might be better, if I think about the orientation of the falls.

The photographs don’t do the falls justice. There may not be a huge amount of water flowing over the falls (unless it’s recently rained), but there is definitely an optical illusion occurring here. The falls don’t look particularly tall, but they are taller than they appear. I’m still amazed when I look at the photos I took of my friend standing behind the falls. She looks like she’s being engulfed by the rock overhang.

*There may be a 2nd falls visible to the left of the main falls if a significant amount of rain has fallen.

Directions:

  1. From Munising, head east on County Road H-58.
  2. After about a mile or so (?), you’ll come along Washington Avenue on your left. Pass Washington Avenue, but begin to slow down. Shortly after this, you’ll come upon Nestor Avenue on your right. Turn right onto Nestor Avenue.
  3. Drive about 3/4 of the way down Nestor Ave (which is pretty short). Look for a small sign indicating the start of the trail to Memorial Falls. The sign will be on the right side of the road (assuming you haven’t turned around already on this one way street).
    4) The hike starts in a beautifully forested area, and then proceeds to descend downhill. You’ll wrap around a sandstone wall and end up at the falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Memorial Falls Michigan (42)

The falls in July 2013

Where in the World is Memorial Falls?

Miners Beach Falls, Michigan

I thought I had touched on all of the waterfalls I’ve visited in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but apparently not. Miners Beach Falls (also known as Elliot Falls) is a little treasure just waiting to be found, and it’s amazingly easy to visit.

The Pictured Rocks just so happens to be one of my favorite places to visit. And if you’re looking to spend just one day there, the area around Miners Beach is a really great choice. There’s the interesting rock formation at Miners Castle, and if you continue down a dirt road for a short distance, you’ll end up at Miners Beach. In the depths of summer, I bet this beach is amazing for swimming. In early May, though, this beach can be downright wicked. The winds off the lake can cause the temperature to drop significantly, but you’ll still be rewarded with stunning views.

At the very eastern end of this beach is a waterfall that you could likely miss if you weren’t intentionally trying to find it. It’s not particularly tall, only about 6′, in two separate drops. But what makes this waterfall great is the scenery around it. Since the falls flow into Lake Superior, you can try numerous different angles to get both the falls and the lake in one shot. And when the lake is choppy with waves, it can only add to the beauty.

Directions:

  1. Go down Miner’s Castle Road (Alger County Road H-13) passing over Miners River.
  2. You’ll reach a point where you can turn left toward Miner’s Castle or turn right toward the Lakeshore trail head. Head toward the Lakeshore trail head.
  3. At the parking lot, you have two options. Heading up the Lakeshore Trail, you will find Potato Patch Falls. If you head left toward the sounds of waves, you’ll end up at the lake.
  4. Once at the beach, look right, and you should see the stream falling into the lake.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, it’s very sandy, so it’s not 100% stable)
Height: 6′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Miners Beach Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is Miners Beach 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?

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?