Mid town Cedarburg, Wisconsin; Cedar Creek
So many waterfalls, so little time......but, 6/16/96 - Father's Day
There's a fair number of waterfalls throughout Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan if you grub around the woods long enough to find them. Most of the really good ones will take a short hike to get back to and in the depths of summer you might find there's just not enough water flowing to make them worth battling the mosquitoes and horseflies. Then again, you'll run across that day when you just can't take another bug bite and are ready to turn back up the trail... and you'll hear the rush and crash of falling water... the creak of logs that are locked between boulders in the streambed. You'll sense more than feel the sudden change in the atmosphere; the sudden drift of moisture, the cool breeze being sucked up the riverbed, the vibrancy of the blues and greens in the plants and stones around your feet. You become obsessed... you push on to break through the brush alongside a crashing river to gaze up the face of the waterfall... the air so clean and fresh you'd like to bottle it up and pack it out with you. Welcome to the wonderful world of waterfalls!
Chapel Falls - A spectacular drop into the depths of Chapel Lake in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area. North of Melstrand about 5 miles, then a good trail about two miles from the parking area. See Chapel in the early spring, just after the snow is out of the woods (that could be late May in the U.P.!).
Sable Falls - Just a mile down a well used path from a parking lot about half a mile west of Grand Marais on the shore of Lake Superior, also in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Spray Falls - Spray Creek isn't hardly noteworthy until it exits the birch and pine forest of eastern Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and plunges straight over a cliff into Lake Superior, 70 feet below. An enticing sight for the weary hikers coming up 12 mile beach. Tough to get to, worth the effort.
Munising Falls - Just a mile and a half east of Munising, watch for the signs on H-58 east. A 70 or 80 foot drop from a narrow cleft in sandstone to a booming ampitheater below. Good paths to follow.
Bond Falls - Just east of Paulding on Hwy 45, Bond Falls may be the most spectacular waterfall in the U.P., but due to its accessability it's often got quite a few people walking around. There are well trod paths and concrete stairs alongside the falls provide many wonderful views of the falls and the surrounding area. Stick to the paths though; the rocks at riverside are moss covered and trecherous when damp and slick. There're two wooden bridges spanning the river at the bottom of the falls which both provide excellent views of the multitude of cascades that make up Bond Falls.
Agate Falls - 5 or 6 miles east of Bruce Crossing on M-28 will get you to the Joseph Oravec Roadside Park which is the start of the trail that leads under M-28 and eventually to the foot of the falls. This is a difficult trek - use some caution especially if the ground is damp - but well worth the climb down and back. A long and beautiful cascade down the black granite of the area. Well worth the visit.
Kakabika Falls - I'm honor-bound not to tell anyone where this falls is, though it isn't too difficult to find if you're looking for it. Kakabika (or, Kecky-Becky to some of the local canoeing guides in the area) is a falls and walk for lovers. Semi-isolated, it is at its most beautiful when the leaves filter the direct sun to that lovely enriched green that certain forest trails have... the falls are extensive through 3/4 of a mile or better down a narrow chasm in the midst of a mature forest. The black granite of the stream bed contrasts beautifully with the bright, nearly flourescent mosses that cover the rock. When the water is running well, this is a violent, crashing river gorge. Kakabika is a place for promises, secrets, and the silences forced on you by the crashing waters. For a special treat - see it in the depths of winter when the clouds of steam from the comparatively warm water coat everything in hoar frost. A delight! During very dry periods there won't be a falls here at all. My 8 year old daughter and I walked up the very center of the streambed a decade or so ago. That, too, was a treat.
Mex-i-min-e Falls - (Burned Dam Falls) An old logger's dam used to sit atop these falls, holding the logs from the timbercutters until the spring high water would wash them downstream 6 miles to the town of Interior. A forest fire destroyed both the dam and the town about 1900 and all that's left is the falls and a graveyard. There's a nice campsite at the falls (about 7 miles east of Watersmeet off old US-2) and it's a great place to put the canoes in for a wild and crazy ride downstream on the middle branch of the Ontonagon River.
Great Conglomerate Falls, Potawatomi Falls, Gorge Falls, Sandstone Falls, and Rainbow Falls - Ahhhh! The Black River! Starting about 10 miles north of Bessemer and extending to Black River Harbor on Lake Superior this is probably the most intense stretch of river in the upper midwest. These are well developed for the touristas in the area, with boardwalks along the chasm that the Black River runs through and many scenic overlooks cantilevered out over the water. There can be some pretty strenuous hiking around the trails, so wear good boots and don't push too hard. Just like Kakabika, I've enjoyed these falls the most when there was 4 feet of snow on the ground and 3 of us hiked in to watch the falls shooting out from under a crust of ice and snow. Spectacular isn't too strong a word for the views of these falls.
Victoria Falls - One of the most moving sites I've ever encountered. Crazy John and I spent a day in awe around Victoria Dam one day when the water was high and they were dumping water like crazy through the spillway. Clouds of mist soaked us when we were still a quarter mile away from the dam/falls. This is a very interesting historical site - check out the nearby town of Victoria. Hwy 45 to Victoria Road, just south of Rockland. Climb the trail to the top of the nearby 'mountain' that overlooks the dam, it's empoundment, and the surrounding beautiful countryside. Very strenuous hike to the top; worth the effort.
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