Photo Gallery Friday: Laughing Whitefish Falls Scenic Site
Photo Gallery Friday is a regular feature on Travel the Mitten that will help showcase photos from places where a few pictures just aren’t enough to show off everything.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to more than 200 waterfalls, and one of our favorites for repeat visits is the Laughing Whitefish Falls Scenic Site in Alger County. This tall slide waterfall is more than 100 feet tall, which makes it one of the tallest in the state. It requires a little bit of back road driving and close to a mile of hiking on a wide, well taken care of trail but it is worth the effort. Today, we’ll share some of our favorite photos from a handful of visits to this peaceful Upper Peninsula site.
Laughing Whitefish Falls is named for the Laughing Whitefish River, a nearly 20 mile long river that eventually empties into Lake Superior. It is said to have been given its name by the Ojibwa, who the river mouth resembled a “laughing fish.” The falls makes an upper drop of 10-15 feet over a limestone escarpment (similar to many of the Alger County waterfalls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore) before fanning out for the rest of its length. When the water is really flowing here the fan can be quite impressive and wide, while other times you will find it all off to one side and barely more than a trickle – this is definitely a waterfall that’s best to visit during spring melt or after a heavy rain. Unfortunately, that usually means that when the waterfall is really flowing the mosquitos will also be thick – so be prepared with bug spray and a head net.
There is a small parking area, picnic tables, a restroom and an informational sign at the trailhead. This mile-long trail is mostly smooth and level; there are some spots with exposed roots and the staircase that leads to the bottom of the falls could be taxing for some. The trail passes through an undisturbed forest full of tall trees before leading to the river and an overlook above the falls. A side trail about .3 miles from the parking area leads to the North Country Trail and some unnamed drops on the river.
Directions: From M-94 near Sundell (just east of US-41), head north on CR-327 (also Sundell Rd.) for about three miles and then take a right on Laughing Whitefish Falls Rd. This road is not always in great shape; it will dead end as a loop/parking area at the trailhead for the falls hike.