Kakabika Falls, Ottawa National Forest
The Ottawa National Forest covers more than 990,000 acres of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and is a popular spot for outdoor recreation, camping, and wildlife viewing. The forest is also home to many waterfalls including Kakabika Falls, a set of cascades on the Cisco Branch of the Ontonagon River. These falls can be reached by a short drive north of the Watersmeet/Marenisco area, and a short, easy hike into the woods. The setting here is peaceful and there is a good chance you won’t encounter other travelers when you visit.
The tallest drop of Kakabika Falls is maybe 8 to 10 feet (most of the drops range from 1 to 5 feet), but this waterfall is more about the sum of its multiple drops than one large drop. The river makes a series of S turns here, and the trail closely parallels the river providing many great vantage points of each drop. As is the case with most waterfalls of this size, it is always best to visit in the spring or after decent rainfall. In dry summer months, we have found that there was barely any water flow here.
The hiking path here is easy to follow, although a pair of hiking boots or sturdy shoes definitely helps. Be sure to bring the bug spray and mosquito nets along here, as Michigan’s “state insect” also finds the Kakabika Falls setting to be magical. The total trail length to see all of the main drops here is less than half a mile each way.
Directions to Kakabika Falls: from Watersmeet, Mi., travel west on US 2 approximately 15 miles to CR 527, turn right onto CR 527 and travel approximately ¾ mile to the small parking area for the falls. From Marenisco, Mi., travel east on US 2 approximately 12 ½ miles to CR 527, turn left onto CR 527 and travel approximately ¾ mile to the small parking area for the falls. You will see the bridge shown in the picture, if you reach the bridge you have gone too far, the parking is on the left side of the road just before the bridge. Other nearby falls included Burned Dam (Mex-i-min-e) Falls and Yondota Falls.