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)?

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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

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Dead River Falls #3 in May 2009

Where in the World is Dead River Falls #3?

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?

Whitefish Falls, Michigan

I live in Michigan, and I honestly enjoy living here. So every once in a while I get a teensy bit annoyed when I hear people suggest that Michigan’s waterfalls can’t be amazing because there isn’t a significant elevation change. There are some really great waterfalls in Michigan. Just search to find examples! And then, on the opposite extreme, Michiganders (and maybe other vertically challenged states) have a tendency to advertise waterfalls that aren’t really amazing, and probably wouldn’t even register in other states. Whitefish Falls is an example of Michiganders being just a bit too excited, though I’ve seen smaller than this being called a waterfall of importance.

Whitefish Falls is found in Alger County, which has some really great waterfalls, along with some very scenic waterfalls. Whitefish Falls just can’t compete. I had visited other falls, such as Laughing Whitefish Falls and Miner Falls, in the same time period, so this seemed mild in comparison. It would be a great place to wade and enjoy a nice summer day, but it’s not a waterfall that I would go out of my way to visit (at least after visiting it)! There are just so many other waterfalls that are far more worth your time. (If I remember, there were campgrounds right near the falls, so it could be an enjoyable place to set up a tent, without being as crowded.)

Directions:

  1. There is a stretch of US-41 that runs N/S between Rapid River (which is north of Escanaba) and Marquette. This is found in between M-67 and M-94.
  2. If you head north from the intersection of US-41 and M-67, you’ll pass Utah Road on your right.
  3. Shortly after this, you should see Diffin Road, followed by River Road, both of which will be on your left.
  4. Turn left onto River Road. If you miss the turn, turn left onto River Road. (River Road forms a loop off of US-41, so if you miss one opportunity, take the next opportunity.)
  5. Park at one of the camp areas, and then head slightly northwest toward the river. It really isn’t that difficult to find.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, I don’t think there was a direct path to the falls, but it’s a very short hike.)
Height: 10′ (total drops)
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Whitefish Falls in July 2008

Where in the World is Whitefish Falls?

Hurricane River Falls, Michigan

I had a chance to visit the Pictured Rocks again this weekend, and the park never ceases to disappoint. I’m trying to think how many times I have visited, and it’s got to be around seven now. It must be at least two years since the last visit though. In the past few years, it became possible to drive through much more of the park, at least more easily now that H-58 is paved all the way from Munising to Grand Marais. I had read that a few people were disappointed that the road was no longer had that wilderness feeling. I, on the other hand, was finally excited to experience a few of the places that I had not visited because I really didn’t care for the previously long stretches of unpaved roads.

One place I was now able to visit much more easily was Hurricane River Falls. The parking area at the Hurricane River Campground not only leads to the falls, but very quickly to Lake Superior, and also is one place to start the hike to Au Sable Point Lighthouse. I haven’t yet visited the lighthouse, but I figure I need a reason to visit in the future (not that there aren’t hundreds of good reasons to visit the Pictured Rocks). The main focus was Hurricane River Falls, one of the few easy-to-visit waterfalls in the park that I had yet to visit. There are a few other far more hidden waterfalls I may never see without some assistance, but this is not one of them. It is only a few hundred feet or so from the parking area. Hurricane River Falls isn’t particularly tall, but it is an enjoyable waterfall. The largest drop appears to be found by taking a slight left from the parking area along the river. If you head down toward the beach, you can see what are more of rapids as they meet Lake Superior. I’m not sure that I would drive out of my way just for the falls, but there are many other reasons to visit the area.

Directions:

  1. From Grand Marais, head west on Alger County Road H-58.
  2. Keep going past the Log Slide Overlook (which is worth a stop).
  3. Drive a few more miles to the Lower Hurricane River Campground. If headed west, the turn will be on your right.
  4. Head a few hundred yards down the road to the dirt parking area.
  5. For the falls, just explore the river, both upstream and as it meets Lake Superior.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 5′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Hurricane River Falls in July 2013

Where in the World is Hurricane River Falls?

Fumee Falls, Michigan

Fumee Falls in June 2009

I won’t pretend that I’m an expert on the waterfalls in the southernmost portion of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In the northern, eastern, and western portion of the U.P., there are either numerous interesting waterfalls, or a few significant waterfalls. In the southern portion, though, may have more than expected. It just seems to be that many of them have been dammed, while others are rather insignificant rapids that can be somewhat difficult to get to in the first place, and aren’t all that worthwhile visiting. The current book on Michigan waterfalls doesn’t list many waterfalls in the region, though I know of a newer book that might provide information on other lesser known falls.

One of the few easy-to-visit falls in the southern U.P. is Fumee Falls. It is a few miles from Iron Mountain near the town of Quinnesec (which is just across the border from Wisconsin). If you drive along US-2 from Iron Mountain, it really isn’t that difficult to find. There is a park right near the falls. Fumee Falls is somewhat unique. There aren’t many other falls that remind me as being similar to this. It almost seems oddly placed. After the creek drops down the falls, it flattens out pretty quickly, and then meets US-2. It’s not particularly tall, though it is still worthwhile enough to visit if you’re in the area. Fumee Falls is probably best visited as the snow is melting. As the summer progresses, it probably loses some of its character.

Directions:

  1. From Iron Mountain, drive east on US-2 until you enter the town of Quinnesec.
  2. Drive just a little bit past the city area, and there will be a pull-out on the left (assuming you’re headed east). It’s a relatively large parking area, and there’s a informative sign for the falls.
  3. This is handicapped-accessible, and there are also stairs to an upper viewpoint.

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

Where in the World is Fumee Falls?