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20+ best Michigan waterfalls (with a map)

Rachel HannahApril 15, 2022
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Michigan is dotted with all types of water bodies from rivers, lakes, streams, dams, wetlands, and of course the topic of this post, waterfalls. No matter where you find yourself in the state you will always be no further than 6 miles from some type of water.  

In fact, the wetlands alone (an ecosystem haven for plants and species), take up a huge portion of Michigan’s landscape, covering 5.5 million acres of land which is 15% of the state’s land area. Michigan also ranks #1 for the state with the highest percentage of land taken up by water, a whopping 41.5%, and there are at least 11,000 inland lakes that account for the vast majority of the inland water bodies. Whatcha got on us now, Minnesota?


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FAQ about Waterfalls in Michigan

Where to find Waterfalls in Michigan

Interestingly enough almost all of the 300+ waterfalls are found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. On the contrary, only one waterfall in lower Michigan can be found. While a bit more inconvenient to reach the U.P., it makes the best waterfalls in Michigan that much more special to visit. 

My curiosity had me wondering why the waterfalls in upper Michigan are grouped together in this particular region, the reason for this is that bedrock (solid rock that lies under loose softer material that allows water to cut through the soft layers) is required to create to waterfalls and the U.P is where bedrock is close enough to the surface to allow for them to occur naturally.

Map of the best Michigan Waterfalls

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a vacation planner on iOS and Android

20+ Michigan Waterfalls you cannot miss

Ocqueoc Falls: The only lower Michigan waterfall

Ocqueoc Waterfall in Michigan
  • Length: 34mi (55 km)
  • Height: 5ft (1.5m) at the highest point 
  • Time to complete: 7 mins
  • Trail length: 0.3 mi (0.5 km) out and back
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Location: Ocqueoc
  • Swimming is allowed

Low and behold the only waterfall in lower Michigan, Ocqueoc Falls, which translates from French to mean “crooked waters”. Overall, it’s one of the biggest waterfalls in Michigan running for over 34 miles.

In the summer, the swimming hole at the base of the falls will be filled with children and adults playing and jumping off of the waterfall so if you’re trying to take pictures you’ll have to come early in the morning. The short trail to Ocqueoc Falls is handicap accessible and picnic tables are available off to the side.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park: the most iconic Michigan waterfall

the upper portion of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park waterfall in Michigan
  • Height: 48ft (15m) 
  • Trail length: 1.5mi (2.4km) loop upper falls and 2.6mi (4.2km) loop
  • Time to complete: 40 mins or 3 hrs 20 mins for the longer hike
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Location: Paradise
  • Swimming only allowed in the lower falls

Tahquamenon Falls, pronounced “Tuh-KWAHM’-in-uhn”, is likely the most well-known out of all the Michigan waterfalls. It’s sometimes called the “Rootbeer Falls” because of the rustic brown color that you see that comes from the tannins from nearby cedar swamps that spill into the falls. 

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is the 2nd largest state park in Michigan and has a paved upper trail and a lower trail that lead to observation points and a more involved 10.2 mile hike that goes between the upper and lower falls. It is beautiful all year long but visiting during fall time is my personal favorite because the falls are framed with autumn foliage.

Entrance is free for Michigan residents that have a recreational park pass and $17/vehicle without a pass. For out-of-state visitors, it costs $9 for a day pass.


Sable Falls: Pair with a visit to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Sable Falls Michigan
  • Height: 75ft (23m) 
  • Trail length: 0.6 mi (1 km) out & back
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Time to complete: 15 mins
  • Location: 1 mile west of Grand Marias on H-58
  • Swimming is allowed

Sable Falls is a bit out of the way from the rest of the waterfalls in upper Michigan so this is a great addition to your itinerary if you are already planning on going to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The short walking trail is only a half-mile each way so it should only take about 15 minutes roundtrip, however, you can also opt to continue walking past the falls and it will take you along Sable Creek to a staircase that goes down to a rocky beach with views of the Grand Sable Dunes and Lake Superior.

Spray Falls: a Michigan waterfall directly on Lake Superior

Spray Falls overflowing into Lake Superior from the water along the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore
  • Height: 70ft (21m) 
  • Time to complete: 3 hrs
  • Trail length: 7.5 mi (12 km) out & back
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
  • Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

There are not many waterfalls in Michigan quite like this one, the powerful 70ft Spray Falls crashes directly into Lake Superior. Truly the best and closest way to see the stunning Spray Falls is from the water, either by a guided kayak tour or on a Pictured Rocks cruise. If you kayak you can go right underneath the base of the waterfall. 

If you are seriously considering planning a visit make sure to book in advance because these tours do sell out in the summertime. However, you can also hike the Spray Falls from Beaver Lake Trail which will take you through the forest and along the cliffs. The views are extremely pretty and it is considered one of the best hikes in the U.P. but keep in mind you won’t be able to get super up-close views of the waterfall from the trail; it’s more a part of the landscape. 

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls in the upper peninsula of michigan
  • Height: 60ft (18m) 
  • Trail length: 3 mi (4.8 km) out & back or 6.8 (11 km) out & back
  • Time to complete: 1 hr or 2 hrs 40 mins for the longer trail
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
  • Location: near Shingleton
  • Swimming allowed on Chapel Beach or Creek 

Chapel Falls cascades 60ft over solid rock. While it is not the most impressive waterfall in Michigan but if you have the time why not stop? In the summer, the parking lot for the quickest hike (more like a nature trail) to the falls is Chapel Falls Trail which tends to get busy here so aim to go early in the day. You can also hike the longer 6.8 mi (11 km) Chapel Falls and Chapel Beach Trail for additional views.

Note: it is advised not to hike this trail right after a recent rainfall as there are many deep ruts on the fairly long drive back to the trailhead. 

Miners Falls: one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Michigan

Miners Falls Munising Michigan
  • Height: 40ft (12.2m) 
  • Trail length: 1.2 mi (1.9 km) out & back
  • Time to complete: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Location: near Munising
  • Swimming is allowed

Hiking Miner Falls on the brief 1.2 miles out and back trail should only take around 30 mins round trip.  Once you reach the falls you will need to climb down a steep section to reach the base but it is very much worth the extra effort for an unobstructed view. During the busy season, there may be a little wait to use the narrow stairs to the bottom, bring your suit for a cool dip here!

Take a quick pit stop at Munising Falls surrounded by sandstone

Munising Falls Michigan

Height: 50 ft

Trail length: 0.4-mile walk

Time to complete: 10 mins

Difficulty: very easy

Location: Munising

All you need to do is follow the short path from the parking lot right to Munising Falls which has a beautiful caramel-colored backdrop of a sandstone canyon. It’s by far one of the easiest waterfalls in upper Michigan to stop at so it’s a no-brainer when it comes to deciding whether or not to add this waterfall to your list. This waterfall is also beautiful during the wintertime because impressive ice formations will form.

Laughing Whitefish Falls: the most underrated Michigan waterfall

side view of Laughing Whitefish Falls in upper Michigan with fall colored trees surrounding it
  • Height: 100ft (30m) 
  • Trail length: 1 mi (1.6 km) out & back or 5.7 mi (9.2 km) out & back along the river
  • Time to complete: 25 mins or 2 hrs for the longer trail
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Location: Rock River Township
  • Option to sit underneath the falls

Laughing Whitefish Falls is one of the tallest upper Michigan waterfalls (100ft) and one of my personal favorites because you can actually climb up the waterfall. That’s right, because of how subtle the incline is of the waterfall you can walk up a good ¾ of the way up and can even choose to sit under the taller portion at the top to cool off on a hot summer’s day. It’s kinda crazy because many Michiganders never talk about this waterfall, I actually found it through my own research.

You’ll have the option to walk the simple 1-mile path from the parking lot where you’ll take the 155 steps down or you can choose the 5.7-mile river hike where you’ll trek through steep parts of the forest, see rock formations, and hop across sections of the river. Because this waterfall is located off the beaten path you will not have to worry about fighting crowds.

Note: before driving to Laughing Whitefish Falls be sure to download directions from Google maps beforehand, based on my own experience I did not have cell service here.

Morgan Falls

Morgan Falls Michigan
  • Height: 20 ft 
  • Trail length: 2.8 mi (1.6 km) out & back or 8.1 mi (9.2 km) loop
  • Time to complete: 1 hr or 3 hrs for the longer loop
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Location: Marquette

Morgan Falls is a serene little waterfall if you have the time to visit it but I wouldn’t say it’s something to prioritize in your itinerary. It’s a great trail that is unlikely to be very busy. When hiking the 2.8-mile Morgan Falls via Marquette Mountain Road make sure to take the bike path trail because it is way more scenic than the gravel pathway, and bring bear spray if you have it because tracks have been spotted in this area.

My Finding’s Tip: Parking on the road outside of the trail by Marquette Mt Road often results in a ticket so I recommend parking at Noquemanon South Trailhead instead. A longer alternative is if you want an even longer hike with additional views you can opt for the 8-mile (13-kilometer) Morgan Creek Loop.

Dead River Falls: a beautiful trail and cliff jumping

Dead River Falls Marquette
  • Trail length: 1.7 mi (2.7 km) out & back
  • Time to complete: 45 mins
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Location: Marquette
  • Option to swim and cliff jump

The Dead River Falls Trail is a little more challenging than some of the other short upper Michigan waterfall trails because the terrain is rocky and root-filled and at the end, you will need to cross over part of the river to reach the falls. If you want something that isn’t so basic this is a great choice. You won’t hike this trail for a single standout waterfall at the end, you’ll go to enjoy the series of waterfalls along the way. Download the trail map beforehand because the signage isn’t the clearest. 

The most fun part about this hike is that there are multiple places where you can stop and swim but the most popular choice is at the first major waterfall drop, you can even climb to the top and cliff jump! Of course, that aspect tends to bring some crowds along in the summer.

Canyon Falls Roadside Park: The best hidden gem waterfall in Michigan

Canyon Falls Roadside Park Michigan
  • Height: 30 ft
  • Trail length: 3.9 mi (6.3 km) out & back
  • Time to complete: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Location: L’Anse
  • Option to cliff jump past the falls

Canyon Falls Roadside Park is a bit more than a dinky roadside stop-off. It’s a beautiful waterfall to look at because the Sturgeon River flows through a canyon (almost unheard of in the U.P) and the rock walls line the river as you get close to the falls. Although it is a quick hike you will want to spend a decent amount of time soaking up all of the scenery that can be found on the Canyon Gorge Trail. 

The falls are only a half-mile back but it is worth hiking the rest of the trail. There are some spots around the falls where you can cliff jump but be mindful if there has been heavy rainfall in the days prior because the river can flow dangerously fast which would make it difficult to swim out.

Hungarian Falls: off the page of a fairytale

Hungarian Falls in Michigan
  • Height: 50 ft
  • Trail length: 1.7 mi (2.7 km) out & back
  • Time to complete: 45 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Location: Hubbell

The Hungarian Falls Trail and trailhead are not the most clearly marked so keep alert. Towards the early part of the hike, you will come across a man-made dam but keep on going to get to the main attraction. 

The looks of the water flowing from Hungarian Falls are magical, it almost looks soft and feathery. As there is not a whole lot of force from the river above these falls are best to visit at the end of winter or spring when there will be a higher water level from the snow melting or from spring showers.

Douglass Houghton Falls: The tallest Michigan waterfall

  • Height: 110 ft
  • Trail length: Unsure
  • Time to complete: Unsure
  • Difficulty: difficult (dangerous)
  • Location: Houghton

The Douglass Houghton Falls Trail is home to the tallest waterfall in Michigan standing at 110 ft tall. Unfortunately, this trail one very dangerous because of how steep many of the sections are. One wrong step on some loose gravel and you will slide right down without a way to get back up. 

While supposedly closing to the public in 2020 due to its dangerous nature, it still has hikers coming to visit anyway, so definitely do your own research before attempting this hike.  Currently, the trail has been approved by the state board to undergo safety improvements, yet there is no news as to when it will be started and completed.

If you do decide to take on this trail make sure to use common sense, wear proper hiking shoes, and watch your step.

How to get to Douglass Houghton Falls

To get to the Douglass Houghton Falls you will need to disregard google’s instructions and go about 600 ft farther than it tells you to (it will try and take you to a private property on the southwest side of the waterfall). Instead, head to the north side next to a small driveway of private property, this part is the section of land owned by the state.

Then, hike east near the backside of the state’s property through the field (which will have the previous owner’s abandoned stuff). This trail will take you to the summit. From there you will head down in the southeast direction until you reach an incline that leads to the right side of the river.

See this YouTube video for a glimpse of what hiking this trail looks like.

My Finding’s Tip: There’s no official parking lot so just park on the side of the road by the seasonal road sign (can one be seen from one direction).

Eagle River Falls: Michigan’s best roadside waterfall

Eagle River Falls Michigan
  • Height: 50 ft
  • Location: Eagle River

Eagle River Falls is one of the most impressive roadside waterfalls in upper Michigan located in a very northern part of the U.P.  You can park in a nearby parking lot and it’s just a short walk to the viewpoint. You will also see an old historic wooden bridge and if you climb down the side a bit outside of the path you’ll get even better angles. The strength of the falls depends on the day.

Presque Isle River Waterfall Trail: See 3 Michigan Waterfalls at once

The top view of Manabezho Falls Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Michigan
  • Height: 50 ft
  • Trail length: 1.9 mi (0.6 km) out & back
  • Time to complete: 48 mins
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Location: Wakefield

Presque Isle River Waterfall Trail is next to the Porcupine Mountains National Park region. On this trail, you will be able to see three different waterfalls; Nawadaha Falls, Manido Falls, and Manabezho Falls, and if you continue going you can go right to the shores of Lake Superior and also a bridge that crosses the river onto the island in the center of the Presque Isle River. This trail does have a lot of sections with stairs so it isn’t the best for those with bad knees.

This hike is conveniently located right beside the Presque Isle State Campground if you’d like to camp in the area.

Gabbro Falls: Unheard of, even by locals.

Gabbro Falls Michigan
  • Height: 40 ft
  • Location: Bessemer

I’m not sure how or why Gabbro Falls has gone unnoticed by most for so long but if you can find them they are worth stopping for, the two levels of the falls drop straight down into a gorge.

To get to them turn onto Baker Blackjack Road and there will be a small parking lot past the bridge. It has no developed path but it is just a short walk where you can walk around and explore, the top has a great view of the whole waterfall. If you’re careful and have a good agility level make sure to walk down the first path to the bottom of the rock where the rope is and climb it down to the base for another incredible angle.

Rainbow, Great Conglomerate, Potawatomi, and Gorge Falls

  • Location: Ironwood

How to hike to all four waterfalls at once

All four of these upper Michigan waterfalls can be found along the North Country Scenic Trail; this trail extends thousands of miles all the way down into lower Michigan so the map of the North County Trail is a bit useless!

But all you need to know to hit these waterfalls in one hike is to start at the Black River parking lot. There are two sides you can view Rainbow Falls from, the better view (and a bit longer of a hike) is if you park and the end of the road and take the trail on the north end that goes across the bridge and up a hill, follow it down the river to Rainbow Falls, you’ll have to come back the way you came from and go back to the parking lot to continue to the rest of the waterfalls. To pick up the trail that continues on to the south end of the parking lot, this can also be your starting point if you do not want to take the additional effort for the more scenic view of Rainbow Falls. This starting point does not cross over a bridge and goes along the river on the opposite side.

Note: this trail is a bit rugged are there are sections with lots of steps involved

The quickest way to visit all four waterfalls

You can also break this down into smaller sections if you don’t want to hike the whole trail together. I would recommend first driving and parking at the Rainbow Falls Trail and taking the very brief half-mile hike to the Rainbow Falls observation deck. Then, drive a little ways back down the road and hike the easy 2.5 miles out and back Great Conglomerate Falls to Gorge Falls hike that also includes Potawatomi Falls. This trail should only take around an hour to complete.

Rainbow Falls Ironwood Michigan

Rainbow Falls

  • Height: 30 ft
Great Conglomerate Falls Michigan

Great Conglomerate Falls

  • Height: 30ft
Potawatomi Falls Ottawa National Forest Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Potawatomi Falls

  • Height: 30ft
Gorge Falls Black River Byway Michigan

Gorge Falls

  • Height: 25ft

Interstate Falls: A Michigan waterfall on the Wisconsin border

  • Height: 18 ft
  • Trail length: 0.3 mi (0.2 km) out & back
  • Time to complete: 48 mins
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Location: Ironwood

A charming woodland walk on the Interstate Falls Trail takes you right up to this little waterfall that is right on the Michigan / Wisconsin border. It’s so close to the town of Ironwood that you could grab lunch in town and enjoy it with a view. A local favorite food famous in the U.P.  are pasties (a handheld meat and veggie pie). You can try them from either Rigoni’s Bakery or Joe’s Pasty Shop.

Get up close and personal at Bond Falls

Bond Falls Upper Peninsula Michigan
  • Height: 50 ft
  • Trail length: 1 mi (1.6 km) loop
  • Time to complete: 26 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Location: Trout Creek

Bond Falls is one of the few Michigan waterfalls where you can walk around them from all angles and be so close you can practically touch them. You’ll be able to feel and hear their power as they gush over the volcanic rock. Visiting Bond Falls is definitely a must-do while in the U.P.

My Finding’s Tip: If you are out of state make sure to park for free at the top of the falls and hike down, otherwise parking in the Bond Falls parking lot is $9/car.

Wheelchair accessible 

Rapid River Falls: Is this actually a waterfall?

  • Location: On-highway 41 just north of the town of Maplewood

While Rapid River Falls can barely be included in this list of Michigan waterfalls it does have a nice series of gradual little falls on this river. What I liked about this park is that it felt so serene, there was one man there fly fishing while it was drizzling rain, and the sound of the rapids was therapeutic. 

There’s no trail, just a short walk from the parking lot and it’s located a lot more southeast than a majority of the other waterfalls in the upper peninsula. It’s only 2 hours from Mackinac Bridge so it would be a great stop right off highway 2 on highway 41 for you to stretch your legs or wade, whether you’re just starting or finishing your trip.

Where to stay near the best waterfalls in Michigan

The Upper Peninsula is pretty remote, once you drive away from any of the bigger cities all you will see are roads lined with trees and barely a store in sight. That being said, Marquette, Houghton, and Ironwood are great bases to explore the best Michigan waterfalls and are sizeable enough cities to have a few different hotel options.

Marquette

Days Inn by Wyndham Marquette – $

Econo Lodge Lakeview – $

Marquette Inn & Suites – $$

Staybridge Suites Marquette, an IHG Hotel – $$$

Ironwood

Royal Motel – $

Quality Inn Ironwood – $$

AmericInn by Wyndham Ironwood – $$

Houghton

Quality Inn & Suites Houghton – $

Holiday Inn Express Houghton-Keweenaw, an IHG Hotel – $$

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Houghton, MI – $$


Thanks for reading and happy waterfall hunting! If you’re road-tripping through Michigan here are some other guides that may be of use:

Unique things to do in Lansing, Michigan

Weekend in Grand Rapids

Unique hotels and Airbnbs in Michigan

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