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Waterfall Itinerary

Waterfall Hunting Getaway

The Porcupine Mountains are a land of waterfalls.
Waterfalls in the Porcupine Mountains

Photo: Caroline Franz

For a trip you’ll remember for the rest of your life, head to the Porcupine Mountains for a four-day waterfall getaway. It would take many weeks to see the hundreds of waterfalls in the area. Hopefully, this itinerary will whet your appetite for a full-scale waterfall hunting adventure. Once you’ve visited a forest glade to see a Porcupine Mountains waterfall, you’ll be hooked.

Just to give you an idea of the huge number of waterfalls in the area, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park alone has ninety. Some are big and thunderous. Others are quiet and serene. Throughout the Ottawa National Forest that surrounds the Porcupine Mountains, you’ll find even more waterfalls.

Here is what a four-day Porcupine Mountains waterfall hunting trip might look like.

Day 1: Arrive in the Porcupine Mountains

4pm – Arrive and check in at your motel, cottage, cabin or resort.

You’ll find great lodging options throughout the Porcupine Mountains area. Three communities offer a variety of lodging options to fit any travel budget:

Ontonagon:
Inn Town Motel – 314 Chippewa Street – 906-884-2100
Peterson’s Chalet Cottages – 22608 Lakeshore Road – 906-884-4230
Scott’s Superior Inn and Cabins – 22554 Lakeshore Road – 906-884-4866
Sunshine Motel, Cabin and Campground – 24077 State Highway M-64 W – 906-884-2187
Superior Shores Resort – 26156 State Highway 64W – 906-884-2653

Silver City:
AmericInn Porcupine Mountains – 120 Lincoln Avenue – 906-885-5311
Mountain View Lodges – 34042 State Highway M107 – 906-885-5256

White Pine:
The Konteka – 35362 Mall Circle – 906-885-5170
Porcupine Lodge – 1033 Michigan Avenue – 1-800-865-9305

5pm – Dinner. 
Have dinner at one of the area’s many restaurants. For a complete list of area restaurants, click here.

Waterfall in the Porcupine Mountains

Photo: Tim Feathers

Why wait until tomorrow to see a waterfall? From Silver City, head one mile south to Bonanza Falls. Here, the Iron River washes over a scalloped ridge of rock. If the water is high, you’ll see a wide wall of water. If the water is low, you can watch the rivulets finding their way through the nooks and crannies. It is a unique waterfall. Actually, all the waterfalls are unique—and Bonanza Falls is just the beginning. On a hot day, you can even take a dip!

Still some time left before sunset? Head back north to the lake and experience every color of the rainbow as the sun sinks past the horizon over Lake Superior.

 

Day 2: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Waterfalls

8am – Breakfast.

Before hitting the road for the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, grab breakfast at an area restaurant. And before you head to the park, pack yourself a lunch or have one of the restaurants pack one for you.

9am – Drive to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is home to a wide variety of beautiful waterfalls. Some are just off the road. Others can only be accessed hiking for several miles. Little Gorge Falls and Nonesuch Falls are both located close to the road. These will be the first stops of the day.

A Vehicle Recreation Passport is required for entering the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Passports are available at the park’s visitor center. A Michigan Registered Vehicle Passport is $10 during 2011. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or www.michigan.gov/porkies

Leaving Highway 107 and driving down South Boundary Road for three miles or so, you’ll come to Little Union Gorge Falls, a long ribbon of water running down a broad expanse of rock.

Five miles further south, you’ll find Nonesuch Falls, which ends its beautiful cascade in a tranquil pool. It’s a great place to relax and soak up the serenity.

For the more adventurous: Trap Falls, located in the middle of the park, requires a three-hour hike through the forest. If you love waterfalls, it’s definitely worth the walk. Get a map at the park entrance to locate the trails you’ll want to follow.

Noon – Lunch. 

Manido Falls at Presque Isle River Scenic Area

Photo: Bryan Cyra

1pm –  Manabezho, Manido and Nawadaha Waterfalls. 

Heading west along South Boundary Road, you’ll come to the westernmost edge of the park. Here South Boundary Road meets Highway 519. Follow Highway 519 North until it ends.  You’ll find four outstanding waterfalls on the Presque Isle River, Unnamed Falls, Manabezho Falls, which is an impressive 25 feet high, Manido Falls and Nawadaha Falls.  At this point, you have a choice: (1) hike north toward Lake Superior and cross the suspension bridge that offers a beautiful scenic vista overlooking the falls and the “pot holes” created by the rushing water, or (2) hike south along the rim of the falls. Either way, the trail makes a full circle and you can spend the better part of your day losing yourself in these magical falls.

6pm – Dinner.

Talk about the day’s adventures over dinner at a Porcupine Mountains restaurant.

9pm – Soak up a sunset. 

Catch the sunset on the beach before heading off to bed.

Day 3: Victoria Falls Trip

8am – Breakfast.

Waterfall hunters need a good breakfast if they’re going to see as many waterfalls as possible. Remember to pack a lunch before heading out for the day.

10am – Head up the Ontonagon River. 

Take Highway 45 south from Ontonagon. The road parallels the Ontonagon River and will take you to toward Rockland. If you are of the adventurous sort, you might consider visiting Grand Rapids Falls or Irish Rapids Falls, both located west of Highway 45, about five miles north of Rockland. Be warned, these waterfalls are remote and hard to access.

The first stop of the day will be Victoria Dam Falls. Take Victoria Dam Road south west from Rockland. You’ll see water dropping from a height of 90 feet. It’s an impressive sight to see.

Noon – Lunch. 

1pm – O Kun De Kun Falls.

From Victoria Dam Falls, head back into Rockland and continue south on Highway 45. About 12 miles south of Rockland, you’ll find a sign that marks a parking area for O Kun De Kun Falls. From there, you’ll take a hike of about a mile and a half to the falls. O Kun De Kun is one of the most impressive of the Porcupine Mountains area waterfalls. It’s so beautiful, you’ll have trouble pulling yourself away when it’s time to leave.

6pm – Dinner.

8pm – Agate hunting along the Lake Superior shoreline 

All of the falling water you’ve seen on this trip eventually flows into Lake Superior. Spend some time on the shores of the Big Lake and see if you have an eye for the agates! Then, watch the sunset.

Day 4: Bond Falls
Bond Falls, Ontonagon, MI

Photo: Rick Varecha

Start today leisurely with coffee on the beach and breakfast. Be sure to pack a lunch.

11am  – Agate Falls

Head south on Highway 45 to Highway 28, then east to Agate Falls.  The trail to Agate Falls begins (and ends) in the Joseph E. Oravec Roadside Park.

1:30pm – Lunch at Bond Falls State Park 

Since we started leisurely, have a late lunch.  Take Highway 28 back to Highway 45 and head south to Bond Falls State Park and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Here you will find one of the most magnificent falls in the area. Bond Falls drops in two sections.  The whitewater rushes over the 50 foot- high craggy rock into a pool that will take your breath away. This waterfall is easily accessible for every age. The waterfall can even be viewed from strollers or wheelchairs. Once you have had your fill, hop in the car and meander your way back toward Lake Superior.

6pm – Dinner

Enjoy dinner around a fire on the beach and one last Lake Superior sunset.

Day 5: Start planning your next trip to see all the falls you missed!