Nonesuch Falls and Nonesuch Mine Ruins, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is home to many waterfalls, miles of hiking trails, and stunning natural features like Lake of the Clouds. Nonesuch Falls is one of the lesser visited waterfalls in the park, but a short hike back to the Little Iron River takes visitors back in time with the ruins of an old mine as well as views of the 15 foot tall slide waterfall.
The Nonesuch Mine got its name for the unusual copper that was found there in the sandstone and shale; “none such” ore had been found anywhere else in the U.P. The mine operated from the late 1860s to the early 1910s, but was only profitable for a few years of that time. As many as 300 people once called Nonesuch home, and while little remains of the town there are several mine structures still somewhat intact.
An informational sign here (was in place in 2014; we no longer saw on our recent visit) tells more about the people that lived and worked here as well how the failure of this mine led to future success nearby. “Knowing the potential of the Nonesuch, the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company explored the old workings in 1906. Following the ore body two miles to the east, they opened the very successful White Pine in 1910 on the same copper bearing formation, the Nonesuch Lode. The White Pine Mine would go on to be Michigan’s most productive copper mine, recording more than 4,000,000,000 pounds of copper extracted during its last 43 years of operation.”
The main trail to the falls will take you past most of the structures, where fences and signs encourage visitors to observe abandoned mine shafts and more from a distance. Looking at how overgrown things are now, its hard to imagine hundreds of people living or working here!
The waterfall may not boast the height or waterflow of the nearby Manabezho Falls but it is beautiful in its simplicity. The water level here varies seasonally, so it’s best to visit after spring melt or recent rains. The river is shallow here which makes it a great wading spot, and given the location of Nonesuch Falls you are very likely to have the place to yourself. To the left of the falls a large pile of rock is visible, yet another remnant of the area’s mining past.
The parking area for the Nonesuch site is located off of South Boundary Rd., roughly 4 miles south of M-107 and the visitor center. Look for a dirt road near the location on the map below, there is room for at least 8-10 vehicles and you will see the sign at the top of the post and know you have reached the correct location. The trail is well-maintained, but be prepared for some muddy spots (pictured). We recommend a pair of hiking boots and plenty of bug spray for this short but scenic hike.