Photo Gallery: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Waterfalls in “Spring”
Michigan’s waterfalls have always fascinated us, and we try and visit a few every time we make it to the Upper Peninsula. While we’ve seen some of them at very low water levels and others roaring after recent rainfall, we had never had the chance to visit in very early spring when there was still snow on the ground. This April a short vacation north gave us the chance to visit some of our favorite waterfalls in the Munising and Marquette area in a different setting. Spring has yet to fully arrive in the Upper Peninsula, and the snow on the ground (and at times in the air) made for some beautiful pictures. Here’s a look at Michigan’s Upper Peninsula waterfalls in “spring”:
Alger Falls – Our first stop was at Alger Falls, a small roadside waterfall on M-28 near its junction with M-94. Alger Creek gradually falls 15 feet here over the layers of rock found at many of the Munising area’s waterfalls. The flow here was better than in the summer, and it was cool to see the falls next to snow covered ground while flurries flew around in the air.
Munising Falls – We drove into Munising, through the roundabout, and out to Munising Falls. Having only ever been here at busy times, it was weird and also amazing to have the place all to ourselves. Ice still held on to both sides of this 50 foot tall waterfall. The water flow here was the best I’ve ever seen, and that combined with the snow on the ground made for some amazing photo opportunities!
Wagner Falls – Our next stop was Wagner Falls, which is located in a small state scenic site on M-94 just south of Munising. Wagner Creek drops about 20 feet here over several rock ledges in a very picturesque setting. The trail was packed with snow and ice but that meant the water was flowing and even the small runoff drops near the boardwalk looked nice.
Au Train Falls – We continued west on M-94 with our next stop in Forest Lake at Au Train Falls. After making our way down the snow covered trail, we couldn’t believe how high the water levels were when we finally got a view of Au Train Falls! I had been here a few times before and had always been able to get close to the falls due to lower water levels – that was not possible this time. The lower falls here are wide and about 10 feet tall at the biggest drop. On our way out we took a picture of the upper falls from the parking area. The view here is a bit spoiled by a large hydroelectric pipe, and we did not attempt getting down the hill here due to the deep snowpack.
After Au Train Falls we made an attempt to visit Laughing Whitefish Falls but were turned back by a snowpacked road with deep ruts and worries of getting stuck in an area with no cell phone service. We headed to Marquette where we got to watch the freighter Maumee break some ice on her way into the ore dock at Presque Isle. We then headed off to our Airbnb cabin in Chocolay Township where we would spend the next two nights.
Black River Falls – The next morning we woke up and decided to head west to check out Black River Falls. This wild waterfall south of Ishpeming proved to be a challenge but was well worth the effort to get to. We decided not to take the car down the road to the falls, which made our hike in a bit longer. Reaching the parking area I was relieved to find some tracks from a visitor a few days earlier that we were able to follow downhill to reach the falls. Black River Falls is a drop of about 30 feet where the river is suddenly forced through a tight gorge. The water was roaring here and due to icy and snowy conditions we had to be very careful where we stepped, although we did venture out onto the old wooden bridge that normally leads to a small island to get a few photos!
After an unsuccessful attempt to find Ely Falls, we headed back into Ishpeming for lunch at Jasper Ridge Brewery & Restaurant. We then headed back to Marquette and made a trip north on CR-550 heading all the way up to the Big Bay Point Lighthouse. On our return trip we detoured down CR-510 to check out the view from the Thomas Rock Overlook then continued on to our next adventure.
Yellow Dog Falls – I had visited the Yellow Dog Falls once before in early spring, so we decided to see if the trail was accessible. After a few miles of dirt road driving we reached the parking area and I was able to see fresh tracks from someone who had visited earlier in the day. The deep snow pack made this a challenging hike as we tried to constantly avoid sinking in the snow, but even with the normally quick half mile hike taking us close to 45 minutes the reward was worth it. Like the other falls on this trip we had Yellow Dog Falls all to ourselves and were able to enjoy this 20 foot waterfall in peace for awhile. A large boulder splits the falls into two sections here, and with the snow covered ground, blue skies, and wild forest setting we got some great photos before heading back to the warmth of the car.
We stopped and checked out some great Lake Superior waves at the Presque Isle Harbor breakwater and lighthouse before heading to Negaunee to check out the recently opened Upper Peninsula Brewing Company. With only a little daylight left we decided to head south on M-35 to check out one more waterfall.
Warner Falls – This easy to visit roadside waterfall even has its own “picture point” viewing area where you can get a full view of the 20 foot drop.
After that we headed back to the Chocolay River cabin to relax, knowing the following day meant heading home.
Whitefish Falls – Our first of two waterfall stops on the way home was Whitefish Falls, a favorite from a few previous visits at lower water levels. The river was roaring here so we weren’t able to access the other side like we did on our last visit. Located near an old state forest campground, this waterfall has a main drop of between 5-10 feet that is more defined when water levels are lower.
Rapid River Falls – We continued south on U.S. 41 to visit the Rapid River Falls, which are located in a small roadside park. The five foot drop over limestone bedrock was flowing fast as expected!
On the trip back east on U.S. 2 we also made stops at Palms Book State Park and the Big Spring Kitch-iti-kipi (where we had the raft to ourselves), as well as the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse. This was a short but amazing trip and I’m glad we finally got to experience Michigan’s Upper Peninsula waterfalls in the “spring”!