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U.P. Waterfalls Worth the Trip This Spring

Cascade Falls

You will oftentimes hear them before you see them. We’re talking about waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula. And springtime is prime time to hear them roar as they flush the snowmelt and spring rains to their final destinations—either Lake Superior or another, larger river system.

We have our favorites, of course. Bond Falls and the ones north of Bessemer on the Black River have been visited numerous times. With the construction of the boardwalk and railings below Bond Falls, it’s an ideal place to take children and older citizens, as well as those with mobility issues. (The boardwalk is handicapped accessible.) There is a fee for parking below, but not if you park on the road above.

Before going further, be aware that the rivers run swift and can be dangerous if you venture too close to the banks. Sturdy footwear, a walking stick, and common sense should always be with you. Don’t tempt fate by wading above a waterfall; you can lose your footing in an instant and be swept over the falls.

Scouting out the smaller waterfalls will require maps, GPS, or compass, and—we highly recommended this—a book on UP waterfalls. You can find maps and books at the chambers of commerce and visitor centers.

You may have to backtrack a time or two to locate one of these hidden gems, as directional signs are either nonexistent or poorly placed. We discovered that one year when we passed the dirt side road that led to the hidden waterfall because the sign was placed a hundred feet down the side access road instead of on the secondary road we were using!

Here are a few waterfalls worthy of your attention:

  • Cascade Falls: This waterfall has an array of steps with a tremendous amount of water. Located on the West Branch of the Ontonagon River. Directions: Heading east of Bergland on M-28, take USFS 222 (Forest Hwy. 222 becomes Forest Hwy. 400) northeast from M-28. You will see a well-marked parking lot to the right. Walk the mile of groomed trail to the waterfall.
  • Maple Creek: Just past the driveway to Potawatomi & Gorge waterfalls (on the Black River National Forest Scenic Byway) is Maple Creek Road on your left. Take the dirt road in about 4 miles to the bridge and find a parking spot. The falls are below the bridge and upstream. Downstream is Lake Superior about 1/2 mile.
  • Nelson Canyon Falls: Beautiful waterfall and a beautiful hike that ends with a spectacular reward. Approximately a 45-minute walk that is not difficult. Take your time to enjoy and explore this area. Directions: 3 miles west of Lake Gogebic on Hwy. 64 take C Camp Rd; cross Nelson Creek (culverts) and continue for almost 1 mile until you are on your way uphill; there is a two-track path. Park and walk the two-track in and as it peters out or turns right; walk angling left. When you get to the river walk downstream.
  • O Kun De Kun & Unnamed Falls: Finding these will be a challenge but worth your effort. Directions: Park at the North Country Trail parking lot on U.S. 45, about 0.6 mile north of the Baltimore River bridge, and take the NCT east 1.2 miles to the falls.

Photo of Cascade Falls from gowaterfalling.com.

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