My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Posts tagged “Waterfalls

My vacation in the UP, Porcupine Mountains

I’ll start with a few facts and figures from the Michigan DNR’s website.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (60,000 acres) is one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest. Towering virgin timber, secluded lakes, and miles of wild rivers and streams make a visit to the “Porkies” a trip to remember.

Areas of attraction within the Porkies include Lake of the Clouds (ADA accessible viewing area), Summit Peak observation tower, and the scenic Presque Isle River corridor which hosts the states second largest waterfalls.

Back to me. It’s been decades since I last visited the Porkies, things have changed, probably for the better. To make the Porkies more of a wilderness experience, the state has closed most of the roads and two tracks through out the park. Most of the scenery is now accessible only by hiking and/or backpacking. I wasn’t quite prepared for that, and I didn’t know it when I first arrived at the east entrance to the park, but I was about done in by four solid days of being on the go, and hiking around ten miles per day to see the sights that I’ve done posts on already.

So, I had to change my plans, they changed even more the next day, but I’ll get to that soon enough. My first stop was to the visitor center for maps and other useful information. It was there that I learned that other than Lake of the Clouds, and the Presque Isle Falls, all the other scenery required longer hikes. Some can be done during a day hike, others require true backpacking to reach. A quick check of the maps, and the time, I thought that I could hit Lake of the Clouds, then hike to the summit of Summit Peak to catch the sunset. Then, I would drive around the south border of the park to camp at the Presque Isle area, and photograph the falls first thing in the morning, then pick other attractions to see with short walks.

So, I was off to Lake of the Clouds.

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds

If only I had planned my vacation for a week or ten days later! The colors would have been fantastic! But, the view is still very good.

Between the Lake of the Clouds and the trail to Summit Peak, I stopped to shoot this photo of a fog bank over Lake Superior.

Fog bank over Lake Superior

Fog bank over Lake Superior

Then, After a short hike to top of Summit Peak, I caught the sunset.

Summit Peak

Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

The view from Summit Peak

After stumbling back down the mountain in the twilight, I reached my Forester, and drove around the south boundary of the park to the Presque Isle area, to camp for the night.

I was up at first light, as I had planned. Most of the waterfalls you’ve seen in these posts are on rivers that run south to north, meaning that in the afternoon, one is usually looking toward the sun to see and photograph the falls. That had been giving me problems all week, I wanted to photograph the Presque River Falls early in the morning in order to avoid that. It almost worked.

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

The Presque Isle River Falls are actually a series of cascades that end just before the river empties into Lake Superior.

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Being an idiot, I followed the signs and arrows to start at the lowest of the falls, and began to work my way up. I figured out later that it would have been much better to go the wrong way, start at the upper falls and work my way down, but live and learn.

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

The river was low, this would be more impressive during spring runoff, but I found the rocks to be interesting in their own right.

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Not only had I been fighting the sun all week long, but at many of the falls I photographed, the view from the designated viewing areas were often blocked by trees. At Sable Falls earlier in the week, I had jumped the fence, then hung out over the bank while holding onto a cedar tree, hoping that the cliff below me wouldn’t give way. It was the same with these falls, I jumped the fence in several spots to get good views of the falls.

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

I shot this photo of the upper most falls using the 70-200 mm lens, even though I planned on continuing to hike the path all the way to the upper falls. But, I had run out of food the day before, so I hadn’t had any breakfast, and I hadn’t even brewed a pot of coffee that morning before setting out to photograph the falls.

Presque Isle River Falls

Presque Isle River Falls

I was feeling light-headed, I couldn’t even remember how to adjust the exposure compensation on my camera, but I pressed on. I saw a sign warning of rugged terrain, and a poor trail ahead of me to get to the upper falls, but I had passed many of those signs while I was up there. I rounded a corner, and was confronted with a near vertical clay bank 30 to 40 feet high, with a tangle of exposed tree roots covering the trail. I didn’t tell my body to stop, but it did so of its own accord. I stood there trying to compel my body to continue on, I did manage to make it three or four more steps, then my brain joined my body in a revolt, with both of them telling me that they wouldn’t proceed any farther.

My body was telling me that it was out of energy, and needed food and rest to recover from how hard I had been pushing myself. My brain was telling me about the same thing, but it added the thought that I would most likely slip on the clay bank, and break one of my cameras or lenses.

I had done it again, just like during my spring trip this year, I had worn myself to a frazzle, to the point where I could go no further.

OK, this was a scouting trip anyway, I had picked up all the information on the park that I could get at the park visitor center the day before, and had a much better idea of what the area was like than I had been able to learn on the web. Looking at the map, there was no place close by for me to get something to eat, other than the park store, and everything there probably would have been very expensive. Here’s a map to show you just how undeveloped the area is.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

It was Thursday morning, but I was a long way from home, after all, it had taken me five days to travel that far, although much of the time I was hiking, not driving.

So, I decided to start back toward home a day early, and stop off at the Garden Peninsula and Fayette Historic State Park as planned, with a stop for real food on the way. Even though I had just dipped my toes in the Porcupine Mountains, I was in no shape to take the plunge. That’s OK, I’ll be back, and it won’t be as long between this visit and the next one as it had been since the last time I was there.

Here are links to the previous posts I’ve done on my vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

My vacation in the UP, the highlights

My vacation in the UP, Sunrise, sunset

My vacation in the UP, the bridges

My vacation in the UP, Tahquamenon Falls State Park

My vacation in the UP, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by land

My vacation in the UP, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by boat

My vacation in the UP, the Keewanaw Peninsula

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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My vacation in the UP, the Keewanaw Peninsula

I’m going to begin this post with a few facts on the area from Wikipedia.

The Keweenaw Peninsula is the northernmost part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It projects into Lake Superior and was the site of the first copper boom in the United States.

The ancient lava flows of the Keweenaw Peninsula were produced during the Mesoproterozoic Era as a part of the Midcontinent Rift. This volcanic activity produced the only strata on Earth where large-scale economically recoverable 97 percent pure native copper is found.

The Keweenaw Peninsula and Isle Royale, formed by the Midcontinent Rift System, are the only sites in the country with evidence of prehistoric aboriginal mining of copper. Artifacts made from this copper by these ancient Indians were traded as far south as present day Alabama. These areas are also the unique location where Chlorastrolite, the state gem of Michigan, can be found.

The northern end of the peninsula is sometimes referred to as Copper Island , although this term is becoming less common. It is separated from the rest of the peninsula by the Keweenaw Waterway, a natural waterway which was dredged and expanded in the 1860s across the peninsula between the cities of Houghton (named for Douglass Houghton) on the south side and Hancock on the north.

Beginning as early as seven thousand years ago and apparently peaking around 3000 B.C., native Americans dug copper from the southern shore of Lake Superior. This development was possible in large part because, in this region, large deposits of copper were easily accessible in surface rock and from shallow diggings. Native copper could be found as large nuggets and wiry masses. Copper as a resource for functional tooling achieved popularity around 3000 B.C., during the Middle Archaic Stage. The focus of copper working seems to have gradually shifted from functional tools to ornamental objects by the Late Archaic Stage c. 1200 B.C. Native Americans would build a fire to heat the rock around and over a copper mass and, after heating, pour on cold water to crack the rock. The copper was then pounded out, using rock hammers and stone chisels.

The Keweenaw’s rich deposits of copper (and some silver) were extracted on an industrial scale beginning around the middle of the 19th century. The industry grew through the latter part of the century and employed thousands of people well into the 20th century. Hard rock mining in the region ceased in 1967 though copper sulfide deposits continued for some time after in Ontonogan.

The Keweenaw Fault runs fairly lengthwise through both Keweenaw and neighboring Houghton counties. This ancient geological slip has given rise to cliffs along US 41 and Brockway Mountain Drive north of Calumet.

The peninsula receives copious amounts of lake-effect snow from Lake Superior. Official records are maintained close to the base of the peninsula in Hancock, Michigan, where the annual snowfall average is about 220 inches (560 cm). Farther north, in a community called Delaware, an unofficial average of about 240 inches (610 cm) is maintained. At Delaware, the record snowfall for one season was 390 inches (990 cm) in 1979. Averages over 250 inches (640 cm) certainly occur in the higher elevations closer to the tip of the peninsula.

OK, back to me.

The drive on US 41 between the twin cities of Houghton and Hancock to the south, and Copper Harbor to the north is one of the most scenic roads that I have ever driven. However, I have few photos from that stretch of highway, because I couldn’t find places to pull off the road safely in order to take photos. The road is twisty and undulating, due to the rugged terrain that the road passes through, and there’s no shoulder to the road for most of the drive.

For much of the distance between Houghton/Hancock and copper Harbor, the road runs along the bottom of a valley, with sheer cliffs several hundred feet high towering over the road to the west. Even though the trees were just beginning to change color for the fall, the views were magnificent, even if they were inaccessible for photography.

So, I’ll begin this tour with a photo I shot coming into Houghton, and then a few from the other side of the ship canal that separates the twin cities of Houghton/Hancock.

Coming into Houghton, Michigan

Coming into Houghton, Michigan

IMG_0837

Looking back at the fog shrouded valley

IMG_0835

Looking back at the fog shrouded valley

One of the few places where I could pull off the road and take photos during the drive north was at Lake Medora.

Lake Medora

Lake Medora

Lake Medora

Lake Medora

From there, it was just a few miles to Copper harbor. My first stop was Fort Wilkins Historic State Park.

The U.S. Army occupied Fort Wilkins, located east of Copper Harbor, Michigan on the strait of land between Copper Harbor and northern shore of Lake Fanny Hooe, in 1844. The troops stationed there were intended to help with local law enforcement and to keep the peace between miners and the local Ojibwas, some Chippewa opposed the Treaty of La Pointe that had ceded the area to the United States in 1842-1843.

However, the fort proved to be unnecessary. The Chippewa largely accepted the influx, and the miners were law-abiding. The Army built 27 structures,including a guardhouse, powder magazine, 7 officer’s quarters, two barracks, two mess halls, hospital, storehouse, sutler’s store, quartermaster’s store, bakery, blacksmith’s shop, carpenter’s shop, ice house, four quarters for married enlisted men, stables, and a slaughter-house, all to house the operations of two full-strength infantry companies. Several of these structures still survive. Others have been rebuilt following archaeological excavations.

Here’s a few exterior photos of the fort.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

I’d love to show you the interiors of some of the buildings, and the displays inside, but they are all glassed off to prevent theft. I ran into the same problem later in the week while at Fayette Historic State Park, trying to take photos through glass partitions doesn’t work well.

So, my next stop was the Copper Harbor Lighthouse.

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

The Copper Harbor Lighthouse was built on the tip of the eastern point of land that hugs the harbor. The lighthouse aided in the transport of copper from the Upper Peninsula.

Funding to build the light was approved in 1847. The first tower was constructed in 1848 and resembled that at Old Presque Isle Lighthouse. The Stone Masonry was dismantled, and the stones used as the foundation for the replacement lighthouse built in 1866.

The current lightkeeper’s dwelling house is a survivor of the first light tower. An improved lighthouse, which also survives, was raised in 1866 three years before the installation of the Copper Harbor Front Range Light and the Copper Harbor Rear Range Light. The steel light tower in current use went into service in 1933.

From there, I took M 26 as my route back, as it runs along Lake superior…

Lake Superior shoreline

Lake Superior shoreline

Lake Superior shoreline

Lake Superior shoreline

…and there are several waterfalls along the way, starting with the Silver River Falls….

Silver River Falls

Silver River Falls

Then Jacob’s Falls

Jacob's Falls

Jacob’s Falls

And finally, Eagle River Falls.

Eagle River Falls

Eagle River Falls

Eagle River Falls

Eagle River Falls

Then it was on to Eagle Harbor, and the historic lighthouse there.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

Edward Taylor was the first to realize the commercial potential of Eagle Harbor, building a short timber pier in the bay in 1844 from which to supply the growing number of miners in the area. A rocky ledge with only eight feet of water above it spread across the harbor entry, and represented a barrier to vessels of deep draft. However, the copper boom saw an increasing number of vessels visiting the dock, and Taylor began to lobby for federal funding for improving the entry into the harbor.

The original Eagle Harbor Light was built in 1851. The structure took the form of a rubble stone keeper’s dwelling with a square white-painted wooden tower integrated into one end of the roof. The tower was capped with an octagonal wooden lantern with multiple glass panes, and outfitted with an array of Lewis lamps with reflectors. With the lamps standing 21 feet (6.4 m) above the dwelling’s foundation, the building’s location on high ground placed the lamps at a focal plane of 47 feet (14 m) above lake level.

By 1865, a total of four new Keepers had worked at the station, with two of them removed from office, one resigning, and one passing away after only seven months at the station. The structure was deteriorating and was replaced in 1871 using a design that had previously been used for Chambers Island Lighthouse in Wisconsin; and McGulpin Point Light in 1868. It was thereafter used at White River Light in 1875; and Sand Island Light (Wisconsin) in 1881. The octagonal brick light tower is ten feet in diameter, with walls 12 inches (300 mm) thick and it supports a 10-sided cast iron lantern. The Lighthouse was manned by a head keeper and two assistant keepers.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

My last stop for this post was McLain State Park, located on the shores of Lake Superior at the entrance to the Portage Lake Ship Canal.

The waterway was dredged in the 1860s, extending a small river previously used by natives for transportation and fishing. The effort was a joint venture between the United States Government and several mining corporations. Legislation for construction of the canal was passed in 1861. This legislation created the Portage Lake & Lake Superior Canal Co. The company began construction of the canal in September 1868. The canal starts at the mouth of Boston Creek and continues on to Lake Superior.

The expanded canal allowed freighters to haul copper from the rich copper mines of the Keweenaw Peninsula out through Lake Superior to larger cities. It also enabled supply boats and freighters to reach the cities of Houghton and Hancock, which supplied goods to most of Michigan’s copper region. The expanded canal and shipping lane has a depth of 25 feet (7.6 m), deeper in some locations. As the waterway connects Lake Superior to itself, there are no locks needed.

The only land route across the waterway is US 41/M-26 across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. My reason for stopping there was to get a photo of this rather dull looking light.

Portage Lake Ship Canal Light

Portage Lake Ship Canal Light

But, it was a fortuitous stop for me, because that’s where I photographed another lifer for me in my birding quest, a Lapland Longspur.

Lapland Longspur

Lapland Longspur

There you have the quickie tour of the Keewanaw Peninsula. Here’s a map of the area for reference.

Keweenaw Peninsula

Keweenaw Peninsula

And a road map to help even more.

Keweenaw Peninsula

Keweenaw Peninsula

I wish that I had more time to spend there, the area certainly deserved more time, and photos, but I was short of both time and money on this trip. But, that gives me an excuse to return again at another time.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!


My vacation in the UP, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by boat

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a U.S. National Lakeshore on the shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, United States. It extends for 42 miles (67 km) along the shore and covers 73,236 acres (114 sq mi; 296 km2). The park offers spectacular scenery of the hilly shoreline between Munising, Michigan and Grand Marais, Michigan, with various rock formations like natural archways, waterfalls, and sand dunes.

Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles (24 km) of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of Munising. The cliffs are up to 200 feet (60 m) above lake level. They have been naturally sculptured into shallow caves, arches, formations that resemble castle turrets, and human profiles, among others. Near Munising visitors also can view Grand Island, most of which is included in the Grand Island National Recreation Area and is preserved separately.

The U.S. Congress made Pictured Rocks the first officially-designated National Lakeshore in the United States in 1966.

This is the second of two posts that I do on the Pictured Rocks area, this one covers the cliffs that give the park its name as seen from a tour boat, the first is what I saw while hiking.

Pictured Rocks Cruises offers daily trips from Memorial Day weekend through October 10.

Sea kayaking is a popular method of exploring the park. While this may be the best way to see the natural formations, it is a serious trip in dangerous and cold water, which should not be undertaken lightly or without proper equipment. Guides are available. The most efficient port of entry to Pictured Rocks, for a sea kayak, is from the harbor at Munising.

I’ll start with a photo of one of the other tour boats that we passed as we were headed back to port.

Pictured Rocks tour boat

Pictured Rocks tour boat

Now, it’s the photos of the Pictured Rocks themselves, in no particular order. I shot well over 200 photos, whittling that number down to 40 for this post was extremely difficult.

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

IMG_0673

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Bridalveil Falls

Spray Falls

Bridalveil Falls

Spray Falls

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Bridalveil Falls

Pictured Rocks

Bridalveil Falls

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Here’s a map that covers the area.

PRNL

Here are links to the previous posts I’ve done on my vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

My vacation in the UP, the highlights

My vacation in the UP, Sunrise, sunset

My vacation in the UP, the bridges

My vacation in the UP, Tahquamenon Falls State Park

My vacation in the UP, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by land

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!


My vacation in the UP, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by land

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a U.S. National Lakeshore on the shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, United States. It extends for 42 miles (67 km) along the shore and covers 73,236 acres (114 sq mi; 296 km2). The park offers spectacular scenery of the hilly shoreline between Munising, Michigan and Grand Marais, Michigan, with various rock formations like natural archways, waterfalls, and sand dunes.

Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles (24 km) of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of Munising. The cliffs are up to 200 feet (60 m) above lake level. They have been naturally sculptured into shallow caves, arches, formations that resemble castle turrets, and human profiles, among others. Near Munising visitors also can view Grand Island, most of which is included in the Grand Island National Recreation Area and is preserved separately.

The U.S. Congress made Pictured Rocks the first officially-designated National Lakeshore in the United States in 1966.

This will be the first of two posts that I do on the Pictured Rocks area, this one will cover what I saw while hiking, the second one will show more of the cliffs that give the park its name as seen from a tour boat.

I’ll start at the east end of the park, near Grand Marais, Michigan and work west to Munising, Michigan, which is where I boarded the tour boat.

So, first up, the Grand Sable dunes. The Grand Sable Dunes, at the eastern end of the Lakeshore, are a perched dune formation. Sand washed ashore by wave action was then blown up slope by northerly prevailing winds until it came to rest atop a glacial moraine. The Grand Sable Dunes today form a sand slope that rises from Lake Superior at a 35° angle. The summits of the tallest dunes are as high as 275 feet (85 m) above lake level.

Grand Sable Dunes

Grand Sable Dunes

Grand Sable Dunes

Grand Sable Dunes

Sable Falls – Sable Falls tumbles 75 feet (23 m) over several cliffs of Munising and Jacobsville sandstone formations on its way to Lake Superior.

Sable Falls trailhead

Sable Falls trailhead

Sable Falls

Sable Falls

Sable Falls

Sable Falls

The Au Sable Light Station was built in 1874 on Au Sable Point, a well known hazard on Lake Superior’s “shipwreck coast”. The Au Sable Point reef is a shallow ridge of sandstone that in places is only 6 feet (1.8 m) below the surface and extends nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) into Lake Superior. The Au Sable Point reef was one the greatest dangers facing ships coasting along the south shore of Lake Superior during the early shipping days when keeping land in sight was the main navigational method. The Au Sable Point reef was known as a “ship trap” that ensnared many ships, including the passenger ship Lady Elgin which was stranded there in 1859.

The shoreline in this area is considered one of North America’s most beautiful, “but in the 1800s it was considered one of the most deadly because of unpredictable features below the surface and violent storms and blinding fogs above.” The reef extends nearly a mile out as a ridge of sandstone a few feet below the surface. The shallow water caught many a vessel following the shore. Turbulence was common when the lake was “pushed in by violent storms out of the north and northwest.” Thick fogs resulted form the mix of frigid lake air and warmth from the sand dunes. “As early as 1622, French explorers called the region ‘most dangerous when there is any storms’.”

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Miners Falls drops 50 feet (15 m) over the sandstone outcrop.

Miner's Falls

Miner’s Falls

Chapel Falls cascades some 60 feet (18 m) down the sandstone cliffs on its way to Chapel Lake.

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Miner’s Castle.

Miner's Rock

Miner’s Castle

Miner's Castle

Miner’s Castle

Munising Falls, a 50 feet (15 m) waterfall over a sandstone cliff.

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

I’ll include a map and more details when I do the second post, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore as seen from the tour boat.

Here are links to the previous posts I’ve done on my vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

My vacation in the UP, the highlights

My vacation in the UP, Sunrise, sunset

My vacation in the UP, the bridges

My vacation in the UP, Tahquamenon Falls State Park

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!


My vacation in the UP, Tahquamenon Falls State Park

I spent way too little time at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, I arrived Sunday night, and left soon after photographing the falls for which the park is most famous for, on Monday mid-morning.

Here’s what the Michigan DNR’s website has to say about the park.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park encompasses close to 50,000 acres stretching over 13 miles. Most of this is undeveloped woodland without roads, buildings or power lines. The centerpiece of the park, and the very reason for its existence, is the Tahquamenon River with its waterfalls. The Upper Falls is one the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It has a drop of nearly 50 feet and is more than 200 feet across. A maximum flow of more than 50,000 gallons of water per second has been recorded cascading over these falls. Four miles downstream is the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island. Although not as dramatic as the Upper Falls, they are equally magnificent. The falls can be viewed from the river bank or from the island, which can be reached by rowboat rented from a park concession. The island walk affords a view of the falls in the south channel.

This is the land of Longfellow’s Hiawatha – “by the rushing Tahquamenaw” Hiawatha built his canoe. Long before the white man set eyes on the river, the abundance of fish in its waters and animals along its shores attracted the Ojibwa Indians, who camped, farmed, fished and trapped along its banks. In the late 1800’s came the lumber barons and the river carried their logs by the millions to the mills. Lumberjacks, who harvested the tall timber, were among the first permanent white settlers in the area.

Rising from springs north of McMillan, the Tahquamenon River drains the watershed of an area of more than 790 square miles. From its source, it meanders 94 miles before emptying into Whitefish Bay. The amber color of the water is caused by tannins leached from the Cedar, Spruce and Hemlock in the swamps drained by the river. The extremely soft water churned by the action of the falls causes the large amounts of foam, which has been the trademark of the Tahquamenon since the days of the voyager.

It had been nearly a decade since I had last visited the falls, I had forgotten how beautiful that they are, and what a wonderful area that the entire park encompasses.

I could have, and should have, spent an entire week there hiking the many trails in the park, seeing the wildlife and scenery, and enjoying the quiet that the park affords once you are any distance from the falls. In addition to the trails created by the state for hiking and cross country skiing, the North Country Trail runs through the park as well.

I camped in the Rivermouth Rustic Campground, I was up before first light, and was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise!

Tahquamenon River sunrise

Tahquamenon River sunrise

Tahquamenon River sunrise

Tahquamenon River sunrise

Tahquamenon River sunrise

Tahquamenon River sunrise

Tahquamenon River sunrise

Tahquamenon River sunrise

It was a frosty start to the day.

Frost on the pumpkin (colored) mushroom

Frost on the pumpkin (colored) mushroom

After driving over to the falls viewing area, I set off down the boardwalk to the falls, a delight in itself.

Cedars forming a canopy of the boardwalk

Cedars forming a canopy of the boardwalk

And I paused to shoot a few photos of these guys.

Red-breasted nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch

Then, the lower falls came into view.

Lower Tahquamenon Falls

Lower Tahquamenon Falls

Lower Tahquamenon Falls

Lower Tahquamenon Falls

The walk through the woods between the smaller cascades of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls was quite scenic as well.

On the trail between falls

On the trail between falls

On the four mile drive to the upper falls, I had to pull over to photograph this hawk along the road.

Red shouldered hawk

Red shouldered hawk

I was hoping for more color in the trees, but the falls are magnificent any time of the year!

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

A few more notes before I end this post. Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers a range of options as far as camping or renting cabins as far as a place to stay with in the park. (Click the link near the top of this post for more info) There are a few motels nearby, but they run on the small side, and one can never be sure if they are open, both because of the seasonal nature of their business, and because they seem to change hands often.

The falls and the park are less than 60 miles north of St. Ignance, Michigan or about the same distance west of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. (Pronounced soo saint marie, or just The Soo to the locals) Much better lodging is available in either of those cities. The same is true for gas stations, there is one in Paradise, Michigan, at the entrance to the park, but you’d be better off topping your gas tank off in either of the aforementioned cities.

Area map

Area map

Be prepared to deal with crowds, especially during the summer months. I had to wait in line for an opportunity to photograph the falls at most of the viewing spots even in the end of September. Away from the falls, the park’s character is completely different, much more of a wilderness type experience.

Since this was a scouting trip of sorts to me, I only hit the falls, then I was off towards the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

A couple of side notes. Just to the north of Tahquamenon Falls State Park, just off the map above, is Whitefish Point. There is a shipwreck museum there, along with the restored lighthouse and a park. It is near that spot that the 730 feet (222.5 m) long freighter, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank on November 10, 1975. That remains the largest ship to have been lost on the Great Lakes, and it claimed the lives of 29 men, as imortalized in the song  “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot.

In May 1976, the U.S. Navy dived the wreck using its unmanned submersible, CURV-III, and found the Fitzgerald lying in two large pieces in 530 feet (160 m) of water. Navy estimates put the length of the bow section at 276 feet (84 m) and that of the stern section at 253 feet (77 m). The bow section stood upright in the mud, some 170 feet (52 m) from the stern section that lay face down at a 50-degree angle from the bow.

Also on the tip of Whitefish point is an Audubon Society bird observation area, as birds migrating south out of Canada cross Lake Superior to arrive at the closest land in Michigan. Whitefish Point is a narrow peninsula that reaches several miles into Lake Superior toward Canada. The geography of this location makes it a natural “funnel” for birds of all kinds as they migrate between their northern breeding grounds in Canada and warmer wintering grounds to the South. The distance between the Canadian coast and Whitefish Point is about seventeen miles.

Here are links to other posts I have done about my week long vacation in Michigan’ UP.

My vacation in the UP, the highlights

My vacation in the UP, Sunrise, sunset

My vacation in the UP, the bridges

That’s about it for this one, thanks for stopping by!


My vacation in the UP, the highlights

I’m home a day early from my planned vacation. For one thing, I have a huge task ahead of me sorting photos. For another, I also had a lot of stuff to do when I got home, so it made more sense to cut my vacation a little short, and not have to rush around on Sunday to complete everything. And, as I always seem to do, I ran myself ragged trying to hit every spot in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in just one week. By Thursday morning, I was so worn out that I couldn’t even remember how to operate some of the features of my camera.

I was up at first light every morning, and on the go until after sunset, which is when I did most of the distance driving that I did, rather than the short hops between photo ops that I did during the day. You’ll get an idea when you see the photos.

Well, I’m not going to list excuses, but I’m going to post of few of the photos that I shot this week, and I think you’ll see that I was on the go all day, every day. Most of the subjects in the photos required hiking, from 1/4 mile up to 3 1/2 miles one way, 7 miles round trip. I think that I averaged 10 miles per day on my feet.

I slept in my Forester, which saved time messing with my tent. It was cramped, but it worked. Subaru makes a terrific vehicle, I averaged 30 MPG for the trip, which included a lot of twisty, hilly, dirt and gravel roads. The Forester handled the back roads with its typical sure-footed nimble handling due to its excellent all wheel drive system. Enough of the advertising.

I shot well over 1,000 photos, this post will serve as a highlight reel for what’s to come.

Mackinac City Lighthouse

Mackinac City Lighthouse

McGulpin's Point Lighthouse

McGulpin’s Point Lighthouse

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge

Tahquamenon River sunrise

Tahquamenon River sunrise

Lower Tahquamenon Falls

Lower Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Grand Sable Dunes

Grand Sable Dunes

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Miner's Rock

Miner’s Rock

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Teal Lake sunset

Teal Lake sunset

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

Eagle in the early morning fog

Eagle in the early morning fog

Emily's Lake sunrise

Emily’s Lake sunrise

Just a lake

Just a lake

Fort Wilkins State Historic Park

Fort Wilkins State Historic Park

Rocky Lake Superior shoreline

Rocky Lake Superior shoreline

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds

Porcupine Mountains State Park sunset

Porcupine Mountains State Park sunset

Fayette Historic State Park

Fayette Historic State Park

Portage Bay (Lake Michigan) sunrise

Portage Bay (Lake Michigan) sunrise

Raven in flight

Raven in flight

Spruce grouse

Spruce grouse

Red-breasted nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch

Otter

Otter

Flaming gull

Flaming gull

Lapland Longspur

Lapland Longspur

Not bad for just the tip of the proverbial iceberg so to speak.

I’m still deciding if I should post by day of the week that I was up there, or do posts on lighthouses, waterfalls, wildlife, bridges, parks, etc. No matter how I do it, I have enough photos to last me for quite a few posts.

I had wished for more color in the foliage, but green isn’t a bad color for backgrounds, it beats bare trees all to heck.

I had hoped for more wildlife, but one can’t have everything.

So, I need time to sort and organize, I hope that you have enjoyed this teaser of sorts.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!