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?

Spray Falls, Michigan

Spray Falls plunging into Lake Superior (August 2010)

I’ve been wanting to visit Spray Falls for a considerable amount of time, and I’ve been finally able to add it to the list of waterfalls I’ve seen. I’ve visited the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore about seven or eight times by now, and I’ve always put off visiting Spray Falls.

I’ve read stories that made it sound like it was a terrifying journey to view the falls from the trail. I thought to myself, “I shouldn’t go alone just in case something bad happens.” Other descriptions also made it seem like there weren’t so great views of the falls from the trail, and that the only real way to get a great view was from the Pictured Rocks cruise. Well, that’s a bunch of bull.

The hike to the falls is not short, though.  It is rather long. I think the book I have says about 3 miles one-way, but I would hazard to say that it is longer than that. There is a lot of curving as you hug the shoreline. There are some steep parts, but they’re not all that bad. It’s just a long hike, but well worth it!!! You get to be rewarded with the view of a waterfall plunging into Lake Superior. And by the way, it is MUCH more interesting than Bridal Veil Falls, which people seem to have an obsession with when showing pictures that represent the Pictured Rocks. Spray Falls is NOT seasonal, which makes it much more worth it to hike to see the falls.

Directions:

  1. From Munising, head east on H-58 for 20 miles or so.
  2. You’ll pass the center of Melstrand on your way, and then you’ll come to the road leading to Little Beaver Lake. Take a left onto that road, and head down that road for about 3 miles.
  3. On your left there will be a parking area for the trail head.  Park here.
  4. Start your journey at the trail head. It can be a little confusing at first. You’ll be starting on the White Pine Trail, which is not very clearly marked. You’ll see a bunch of numbered signs, though, that indicate you’re following the right trail. There is another “fake” trail that looks like it might lead somewhere, but it doesn’t.
  5. After about 0.5 miles, you’ll see a sign pointing toward Lake Superior and Beaver Lake. Head toward Lake Superior. It will wind around for a ways.
  6. After a while, you’ll be at Lake Superior. Look for the sign that points toward Chapel Beach. You want to follow this trail, which will be to your left. You’ll follow this trial for however long, passing by a number of a campground sites. FINALLY, after much effort, you’ll come to the sign indicating Spray Falls which leads to the “outlook”. It’s a cliff edge, though it wasn’t really that scary, and that’s coming from someone who’s not a fan of heights. Then return the way you came or head on to Chapel Beach, another 2 miles further.

Accessibility: 3/10 (hiking), 10/10 (cruise)
Height: 70′
Length of Hike: 6 miles round-trip

Wide view of Spray Falls and the Pictured Rocks

The view of the falls from the Pictured Rocks Cruise

Where in the World is Spray Falls?

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?

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?

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?

Chapel Beach Falls, Michigan

I would say that this waterfall is hidden in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but that’s not entirely correct. I’m sure many people have seen Chapel Beach Falls as they finish their hike to Chapel Beach. Chapel Beach Falls is not listed on the list of falls in the park, though they have been reported online. I’m not sure why, as it’s a very pretty waterfall.

I love how this waterfall is essentially flowing into Lake Superior. It adds a certain amount of beauty to the falls. While you’re hiking to the falls, you’ll also pass Chapel Rock, a very interesting rock formation. You’ll also see great views of the Pictured Rocks as the rocks jut out of Lake Superior. The only reason this area is not visited more is likely that it is a 3+ mile hike to the beach. Along the way, you’ll also see Chapel Falls, the much larger waterfall also found on the Chapel River. (You can also spot Chapel Beach Falls from the Pictured Rocks cruise.)

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, Little Chapel Falls, and Chapel Rock.
  6. The trail head furthest to the right leads to Chapel Falls, Chapel Beach Falls, and Chapel Beach. Chapel Beach Falls is found at the end of the 3+ mile hike.

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

Chapel Beach Falls in July 2008

Where in the World is Chapel Beach 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?

Potato Patch Falls, Michigan

Potato Patch Falls in May 2009

Potato Patch Falls is a waterfall that isn’t advertised on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore map, but it’s a very beautiful waterfall, and it’s relatively easy to access. It may be difficult to get a view of the whole waterfall, as the rock is very slippery and not very firm in places (at least it wasn’t when I visited this May).

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, head up the Lakeshore trail, which starts near the information board.
  4. It’s a moderate climb up the trail. If you hit the sign for Potato Patch Falls, you are at the top of the falls, though it’s not the best view. Walk back down the trail a ways and look for an unmarked trail that has been clearly traversed. It will go downhill a little and hug huge rocks. You will know when you have reached Potato Patch Falls (assuming there is flow).

Accessiblity: 7/10 (easy/moderate, moderately steep but short climb)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Blue ice near the falls

Where in the World is Potato Patch Falls?