10 Hidden Gem Waterfalls of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Visitors to Michigan’s stunning Upper Peninsula are likely familiar with the stunning drops at Tahquamenon Falls and Bond Falls, but there are nearly 200 other falls that can be explored. The incredibly varied terrain and abundant rivers and streams create perfect conditions for some of the most impressive waterfalls in the country. This list of 10 “hidden gems” is a small sample of the variety of falls Michigan has to offer, and all 10 can be reached with minimal effort. If you’re looking for great scenery without the crowds, these waterfalls should make a good starting point.
Superior Falls - Located on the Montreal River just before it empties into Lake Superior, this 65-foot waterfall falls right on the border between Michigan and Wisconsin. While there is a viewing area above the falls, the best vantage point comes from following the trail down to the lake then following the footpath that winds behind a power house and hugs the riverbank for a closer view of the falls. Many thanks to XCel Energy for keeping access to these falls open, and when visiting use caution as waterflow can change rapidly if the dam is opened. From US-2 in Ironwood head west into Wisconsin and then head north on Highway 122. About a half mile after crossing back into Michigan and just after crossing the river, look for the Superior Falls sign on the left. This video shows how close we were able to get to the falls.
Unnamed Falls on Silver Creek – There are no signs leading to these picturesque falls near Ahmeek, but they can be reached through a short hike on a fairly well-worn path just off of Five Mile Rd. This waterfall is about 12 feet in height, and the white cascade falls over conglomerate rock in sharp contrast to the lush green forest setting that surrounds it. From M-28 in Eagle River, head west on Five Mile Point Rd. for two miles then park on the side of the road before crossing Silver Creek and look for a path into the woods on the left. I shot the short video available here on one of our visits.
Hungarian Falls – There are five major drops on Hungarian Creek near Hubbell, and the short yet somewhat challenging hike to see them is completely worthwhile. The upper falls (shown here) drop about 25 feet into a small holding pond above a dam, and at higher water levels the pond overflow makes a second falls into a concrete spillway. The next drop is a 10-foot, wider drop over smooth rock. The middle drop is one of the most scenic on the entire creek (see photo at top of post), as the creek makes a 20-foot plunge into a small gorge. The lower falls are difficult to access or view in full, as the creek makes a 50-foot drop while continuing its journey towards Lake Superior. From M-26 in Hubbell, head west on 6th St. and take the left fork which is Golf Course Rd. Park on the side of this dirt road near the third trail road on the left. A hike leads in about a quarter mile, the right fork heads to the pond and upper falls and the left fork will lead to the other drops. Trails follow up and down both sides of the creek. Take a look at my video for a better idea of what this collection of falls has to offer.
Haymeadow Falls – A short trail in a state forest campground north of Rapid River leads to Haymeadow Falls. This isn’t the tallest or widest set of falls in the state, but what impresses here is the simple beauty of the quiet wilderness setting. The falls here are at most five feet tall, but span the width of the creek and form a natural staircase. Haymeadow Creek is also a highly-regarded trout fishing stream. From US-2 west of Rapid River take CR-509 north for 0.6 miles, take the split to the right and stay on 509 for another 8.5 miles until you reach Haymeadow Creek campground.
Bonanza Falls – Many visitors to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park miss out on an amazing and complex set of falls just outside of the park boundary. The brown waters of the Big Iron River flow over rock ledges that angle out of the river here, with drops of 5-10 feet spanning its width. At high water levels the river rushes over these shelves; at lower levels it is easy to walk out on the rock ledges for a better view of each section. From the junction of M-64 and M-107 just west of Silver City, take M-64 south for a mile and watch for the Greenwood/Bonanza Falls parking area on the right. I took video on one of our visits and tried to capture the entire falls.
Chicagon Falls – Located just a few miles from Bewabic State Park, Chicagon Falls is a 20-foot slide falls on a small creek surrounded by forest. Reached by following a two-track then walking or biking the rest of the way in, these falls are incredibly secluded. Directions available at Bewabic State Park, respect any posted private property signs in the area. Check out my video for a full view of this falls.
Powerhouse Falls – The L’Anse area has many waterfalls, and one of the easiest to visit is Powerhouse Falls. There is a small park downstream from this 15-foot drop next to an old power house on the Falls River, yet these falls don’t get much attention. Take US-41 south of L’Anse for about a mile then take a right on Power Dam Rd. After crossing the railroad tracks follow the signs and follow the road to its end at the falls. A short video can be seen here.
Gabbro Falls – One of the most stunning falls in the entire Upper Peninsula, Gabbro Falls remains relatively unknown despite being just off the main road near the Blackjack Ski Resort. The Black River makes two big drops totaling 40 feet here as it plunges into a gorge. The best views are had from above the falls, as the gorge blocks complete views from down below. From US-2 near Ramsay head north on Blackjack Rd. Follow the road past the ski lodge and park next to the old buildings and equipment on the right. Trails on the opposite side of the road will lead to the falls. A video that gives a better idea just how stunning this falls is can be found here.
O Kun de Kun Falls – Reached via a mile-and-a-half hike on the North Country Trail north of Bruce Crossing, O Kun De Kun Falls is a stunning 40-foot drop on the Baltimore River. The muddy waters are calm above and below the falls, and there are many different vantage and access points as well as a wooden bridge that crosses the river below the falls. There is an additional 10-foot drop upstream. From US-45 in Bruce Crossing, head north 8 miles and watch for the NCT parking lot on the right. Video from my visit available here.
Alder Falls – The Marquette area is well-known for its abundance of waterfalls, and one of the area’s most scenic and secluded falls is located to the north on the road to Big Bay. Alder Falls drops 30 feet in a slide over rocks in a deep gorge in the woods. Falls are reached by driving/hiking about a mile down a two-track road then following a foot trail about a half mile into the gorge. Moose sightings are rare but possible in this area. You can check out my video here.