O Kun De Kun Falls – Ontonagon County
During this year’s Lake Superior Circle Tour, my father and I were able to visit a good handful of waterfalls that we had previously not visited. One of the most impressive hikes was the trip to O Kun de Kun Falls, located north of Bruce Crossing in Michigan. While the hike had it’s challenges, I was on a mission to correct a previous error on an earlier trip – stopping at the Upper Falls, calling it good and heading back. The trail to O Kun de Kun Falls begins at a parking lot just off M-45, and winds through the woods alongside the Baltimore River for about a mile and a half.
The trail is well marked and easy to follow, and it is also part of the North Country Trail. When we visited in June 2014, we found the trail in pretty good condition and ran into a National Forest Service crew trimming branches along the way. Where need be, boardwalks are in place:
There were a few muddy spots, and the picture below is a good one of the “worst” conditions we encountered:
Now, on to the waterfalls. A little over a mile into this scenic hike, the Baltimore River drops 10 feet over stone ledges to form the scenic Upper Falls (also referred to as the Creamy Peanut Butter Slide). Since this is a fairly impressive falls, I don’t feel as bad for stopping here the first time.
One of my favorite things about both falls on this river is the muddy brown color, as it contrasts perfectly with the lush green forest surroundings. Keep following the trail a little bit past these falls, and remember that there is a wooden bridge across the river below O Kun de Kun Falls – if you haven’t seen the bridge, keep going.
The amazing falls here are about 25 feet in height, and they are a plunge falls that drop over the rock in a way that makes it possible to get in behind them if you are so inclined.
These falls will vary in flow seasonally, and the river is quite calm both above and below. As seen in this photo, there is also a small side falls.
On the way back to the parking lot, make a quick trip closer to the falls and explore the rock ledges for a close-up view:
Directions: From the intersection of M-45 and M-28 in Bruce Crossing, head north on M-45 for about 8 miles. Watch for a sign for the North Country Trailhead and the O Kun de Kun Falls parking area. Well-signed from the parking lot, easy-to-follow trail that will run around 2.5 miles round trip.
Be prepared for: seasonal water flow changes, bugs (mosquito netting recommended), wet/rough terrain (boots a good choice).