Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is full of natural wonders, including over 300 named waterfalls. While many people visit waterfalls in the summer, you’ll find a reason to see them year round. In spring, the rivers are full from the spring rain, making the falls particularly beautiful. In autumn, Michigan’s brilliant fall foliage makes a stunning frame to the majestic falls, and winter offers water curtains frozen in action.
You can view some from the road, while others may require a hike of 1 mile or 2. When you’re out chasing waterfalls, be sure to wear your comfortable hiking boots and some bug spray.
With over 300 named waterfalls to highlight, the choice wasn’t easy. First, Tahquamenon Falls, as Michigan’s largest, was required, then I selected two other areas — Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the Keweenaw Peninsula so that you could see as many falls as possible in your tour of the areas.
Note: Thank you to the Keweenaw Peninsula Convention & Visitors Bureau for hosting my trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula.
1. Tahquamenon Falls
Located west of Paradise in the eastern part of the Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls State Park features Upper and Lower Tahquamenon Falls. From my road-tripping experience in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, don’t count on your GPS to get you there. Instead, take a map and then follow the signs.
At 50 feet tall and 200 feet across, the Upper Tahquamenon Falls is the largest waterfall in Michigan. It’s also one of the largest east of the Mississippi. The Upper Falls’ viewing area with restrooms is about a 10-minute walk down a paved pathway. While 94 steps will get you a closer view of the Upper Falls, you’ll find several views that you can reach without climbing stairs.
Once you’ve explored the Upper Tahquamenon Falls, drive the 4 miles to the Lower Falls. The Lower Tahquamenon Falls is a series of five smaller waterfalls tumbling around an island. The first view of the Lower Falls is 100-yards from the parking lot on a boardwalk-style accessible path. After a 10-minute walk, you’ll reach the second viewing platform. A fun way to get a closer look at the Lower Falls is renting a rowboat from the concession stand and getting a view of the falls from the island.
Pro Tip: You’ll need a Michigan State Parks Recreation Pass to enter, but you can purchase one at the gate if you don’t already have one.
While traditional wheelchairs may have difficulty exploring some of the areas around Tahquamenon Falls, Tahquamenon’s track chair makes exploration possible. The track chair is an electric, off-road chair that efficiently manages trails, sand, snow, and up to eight inches of water. You can use them on a first-come, first-served basis without charge.
2. Munising Falls
Located within the town of Munising, where Washington Street becomes Sand Point Road, near the hospital, you won’t need a park pass to enter. To reach Munising Falls, you’ll need to walk about 800-feet on a paved trail. Stay on the paved path because walking behind the falls or into them isn’t allowed. The slightly uphill pathway with small sloops includes wooden boardwalks over the creek, and you’ll find some benches along the way. In winter, the trail can be covered in deep snow or ice.
Both the Munising Falls Visitor Center and the Grand Sable Visitor Center near Grand Marais are wheelchair accessible. You’ll find restrooms with running water inside the Grand Sable Visitor Center, but they’re only available when the building is open. You can also find a bottle filler and drinking fountain there. The restroom at Munising Falls is next to the Visitor Center and is available 24 hours from May through October. You’ll also find a water fountain there.
Pro Tip: While you’re in Munising, take time to try one of the Upper Peninsula’s regional food specialties, pasties. A local favorite for this dish is Muldoon’s. These hand-held pies, developed as a miner’s lunch, are a homemade crust with a filling that traditionally includes beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, and rutabaga.
3. Spray Falls
Spray Falls is beautiful because it plunges about 70-feet over the cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Shoreline right into Lake Superior. The Superior, an 1856 shipwreck, sank at the base of the falls and is still there, 20 feet below the water’s surface.
Spray Falls is relatively remote. If you’re up to a 9.6-mile roundtrip hike to the falls, you can take the North Country Scenic Trail. However, I wasn’t up for a long walk, and I found a much easier alternative without hiking at all. I discovered the best view was on the deck of Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises’ high-speed catamaran. The two-hour and 15-minute narrated roundtrip travels 40 miles along the face of the Pictured Rocks National Shoreline.
You’ll also be able to see Bridalveil Falls on the cruise.
Pro Tip: Note that the cruise to Spray Falls is specific and is different from the classic cruise. Although the distance is farther, the Spray Fall Cruise takes about 20 minutes less than the Classic Cruise because the cruise lines use the high-speed catamaran for the Spray Falls Cruise. The route is the same for both cruises.
4. Hungarian Falls
Situated in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Hungarian Falls is near the town of Hubbell. On the way to Torch Lake, Dover Creek plunges over a series of falls. Two of the falls have about a 20-foot drop, with another drop being about a 50-foot drop. In the spring, after April showers, these falls are striking.
To keep these beautiful falls open to the public, The Keweenaw Land Trust held a community fundraiser and acquired the uppermost Hungarian Falls. The 10-acre Hungarian Falls Nature Area includes the uppermost falls, a pond, and a historic dam. You’ll also find some woodland trails.
Pro Tip: Watch your step! While you can enjoy many waterfalls up close, you may encounter slippery patches along the way. Hungarian Falls is a good place for ice climbing in the winter.
5. Bond Falls Scenic Site
Located in the Keweenaw Peninsula, several miles east of Paulding, Bond Falls is on the middle arm of the Ontonagon River. The river flows over a series of broken rocks creating many smaller cascades, with a total drop of about 50 feet. Not only is this a beautiful one to see when the water levels are high, but you’ll also hear it, too.
While Bond Falls is a natural fall, the Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) built a dam nearby, which enhanced the flow. You’ll find a park below the dam and waterfalls that make a good place for viewing the falls with a newer walkway. At the top of the falls, you’ll find roadside parking and a picnic area which you can access from trails. The accessible boardwalk features six viewing locations along the way. There are also a few nice spots for paddle sports here, too.
Depending on the weather, you can reach Bond Falls by car from mid-May through mid-October; however, you can also get there via a trail year round. While you’re in the area, continue north, where you may want to take in Agate Falls Scenic Site as well.
Pro Tip: After exploring the falls, you’ll need some nourishment, especially on a hot summer’s day. Stop by the Paulding General Store and get some ice cream from the UP’s Jilbert’s Dairy. Just what you’ll need to cool down.
6. Jacob’s Falls
Of all of Michigan’s waterfalls, I found Jacob’s Falls the easiest to see. While you don’t need to even get out of your car to see it, you should. You can hike along the steep rock into the woods upstream. Located on the south side of Michigan 26, about 3 miles from Eagle River, the central area of the falls features a 40-feet tall drop where the water tumbles over rough stone.
Pro Tip: Be sure to stop by Jampot, located next to the falls, and pick up some refreshments for the rest of your journey. The Poorrock Abbey monks hand-make the products sold in the shop. If you’re lucky, they’ll have the wild thimbleberry jam in stock. If not, the other flavors are equally delicious. The shop is open seasonally from mid-May through Mid-October.
7. Eagle River Falls
Another easy-to-view waterfall is the Eagle River Falls, where you’ll only have a 20-yard walk from the parking lot. Located on the south side of Michigan 26, right off the road, the falls feature a viewing platform that spans over the falls’ flow, where you’ll have a stunning view. You’ll find upper and lower falls, with the most significant drop at about 60 feet.
Pro Tip: History buffs will want to take the time to check out the nearby Eagle River Museum.
These are just a fraction of the stunning waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As you explore the area, you’ll find it’s fun to discover more of the 300 waterfalls the region offers.
For more information on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, check out these articles: