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?

Big Manitou Falls, Wisconsin

Big Manitou Falls from the left viewpoint in May 2010 (with fresh snow falling)

Big Manitou Falls is big. It has the distinction of being one of the tallest waterfalls in the region that includes Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and possibly even the Lake Superior watershed. At 165′ tall, it’s not shabby.

Now, the unlucky thing about Big Manitou Falls…The views really aren’t truly spectacular. There’s no obvious (or SAFE) way to get to the base of the falls, and the view from the left side of the river, while good, are not top notch. I think from the major viewpoint, you can’t get a real sense of how tall the falls are. There are trails on the right side of the river, but they don’t seem to lead anywhere important. Oh well, it’s still a nice waterfall. Check out the smaller, but equally impressive, Little Manitou Falls.

An update from August 2015:  When I first visited Big Manitou Falls, I viewed the falls from the left side of the river (once facing the falls). It wasn’t particularly easy to get a complete view of the falls. On the return visit, five years later, I discovered that there was another viewpoint on the right side of the falls. This viewpoint provides a much more complete picture of the falls, though you still won’t be at the base. I actually think seeing the falls from both sides provides some uniquely different pictures.

Directions:

  1. From US-2/US-53 in Superior, head south on WI-35 for 13 miles, following the signs to Pattison State Park.
  2. Once you reach Pattison State Park, you can turn left and go toward the camping area. There is a trail that leads to the falls…
  3. Or after paying at the area mentioned in step 2, you can continue down WI-35 for a short distance, turn onto County Road B, and find the parking area just to the left. This leads much closer to the falls, and allows for easy access to the right viewpoint.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip
Height: 165′

A view of Big Manitou Falls from the right (in August 2015)

Where in the World is Big Manitou Falls?

Now and Then Falls, Wisconsin

Now and Then Falls in May 2010

Now and Then Falls is definitely an interesting waterfall. The waterfall is unlikely to register to some since it has so little water flowing over it, at least when I visited Amnicon Falls State Park. The other falls in the park were flowing powerfully in early May (after all the snow melt), but this falls was still puny.

What made the falls interesting to me was the color. In the Lake Superior region, I do not usually remember the green colors from the mosses that are usually found in the Pacific Northwest area. Now and Then Falls seems very “green” in comparison to many falls in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Directions:

  1. From Duluth/Superior, head east on US-2.
  2. Just after the intersection of US-2 with WI-53, you’ll notice a sign indicating that Amnicon Falls State Park is coming very soon.
  3. At the sign indicating the park, turn left onto County Road U.
  4. After a very short distance on County Road U, you will find the entrance for the state park. Stop and purchase a day pass if you need one. The ranger at the visitor’s center was extremely helpful at directing me to the falls and telling me how to get to Pattison State Park.
  5. Right near the visitor center, you can head right down a rather narrow park road to the end of the road, where you’ll find a parking area just a few feet from the falls.  Now and Then Falls is in the opposite direction from the larger falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 6′
Length of Hike: negligible

Where in the World is Now and Then Falls?