Michigan is full of lots of great waterfalls. It’s usually the massive, thundering roadside waterfalls like Tahquamenon, Munising, and Bond Falls that get all the attention, but there are still tons of impressive, more secluded waterfalls our state has to offer. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and experience true Michigan wilderness, you’ve come to the right place.
These are my favorite off-the-beaten-path waterfalls Michigan has to offer. A few are hard to get to, but if you make the effort I’m sure these will be some of your new favorite Michigan waterfalls.
5. Little Trap Falls
By volume this is the smallest waterfall on this list, but it more than makes up for it in character. The 30 foot tall face that Anderson Creek drops over and the surrounding canyon are completely covered in moss. On a humid summer day you’d almost think you’re in the Pacific Northwest visiting this waterfall. Downstream there are a couple more small unnamed waterfalls to stop and see as well.
From Silver City, head south on M-64 for 7.9 miles. Turn left onto Old M-64 (this is a seasonal dirt road but in good condition) for 2.2 miles. Park right after the bend in the road. Hike east for 100 yards until you come to Anderson Creek and follow it upstream until you reach the waterfall. There is no trail to this waterfall, however the forest is fairly open and aside from some rolling hills the hike is pretty easy. A GPS is useful but not required to visit Little Trap Falls. The coordinates are 46.68963, -89.55619.
4. Montreal Falls
This is a hike that will leave you wanting to come back for more. Lower Montreal Falls is made up of several cascades, slides, and a drop, not to mention it’s one of the few Michigan waterfalls that actually dumps into Lake Superior. There are several campsites in the open field next to the falls making this a great place to hike into and spend the night. Follow the side of the river upstream for a quarter mile to see the middle falls, my personal favorite of the two. Views are great from the trail and scrambling down to the river gives great views as well. There is another waterfall another quarter mile upstream from the Middle Falls, but both times I’ve visited I couldn’t find a trail.
From US-41 turn south onto Gay-Lac La Belle Road for 4.2 miles. At the bottom of the hill keep left on Bete Gris Road for 3 miles. Smith’s Fisheries Road comes up quickly on the left side of the road. Turn here and follow for 5.3 miles until it ends at the trailhead. Follow the trail 1.2 miles to the base of the Lower Falls. The trail can be hard to follow at times but as long as you stay close to Lake Superior you’ll make it just fine. No GPS is necessary to visit this waterfall. 4 wheel drive is recommended but not required on Smith Fisheries Road.
3. Cliff Falls (aka 40 Foot Falls)
Easily one of the most remote waterfalls in the state, Cliff Falls is one that I make an effort to see whenever I’m in the area. It’s a long, tumbling cascade with lots of open views along the river. There’s another small waterfall shortly after the base of the main falls. At the top of the falls is a small campsite with pots, pans, and a plastic box with a guest book and pens. Be respectful of this stuff as it likely belongs to a hunting club a few miles down the road.
A GPS is required to visit this waterfall and 4 wheel drive is recommended. The roads in this area have no names and the ones that do are inconsistent from one map to another. From Skanee, take Skanee Road east for 5 miles until it dead ends at an intersection. Turn right onto Erick Road. Follow this for 5.3 miles and keep left at Northwestern Road (46.820881, -88.044934). Follow this for 2.2 miles. Your next turn is just past a large swamp at 46.810584, -88.004152. Go slowly here. It’s a sharp turn that’s easy to miss and can be sandy if it hasn’t rained. Stay on this road and keep right for the next 2.9 miles. The parking area at 46.83281, -87.97911 is fairly open and easy to identify. Park here and the falls are only 30 feet away.
2. O-Kun-de-Kun Falls
This is one of the most underrated waterfalls in the entire state. In 2019 the North Country Trail Association did some work on the trail, adding boardwalks and a gravel pathway most of the way to the falls. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, make your way to the right side of the falls and you can actually go behind them. Be careful though – the rock can be VERY slippery. If you really like this spot, there’s a campsite just downstream of the waterfall.
From Bruce Crossing, head north on US-45 for 8.3 miles. On the right side of the road will a sign for Ottawa National Forest and the North Country Trail. Shortly after the sign the parking lot will be on the right. The trail is mostly downhill going to the falls and uphill coming back and feels longer than it actually is. Hike for 1.1 miles to reach Peanut Butter Falls, a smaller drop above O-Kun-de-Kun. The campsite, bridge, and waterfall are only a couple hundred yards more down the trail. GPS and 4 wheel drive aren’t necessary for this one.
1. Herman Falls
These are probably my favorite waterfalls in the state and I wrote about them in the first story I ever put on here. Part of the reason these don’t get much attention is because they’re very out of the way. This stretch of the Silver River has 5 drops that aren’t very impressive in height, but more than make up for it in the way they present themselves. Each one builds up suspense, ending in the gorgeous 20-foot cascade of Baraga Falls. These falls are wild and out of the way, but if you make the effort to see them I can almost guarantee you’ll have them to yourself. All photos here are from the east side of the river.
From US-41 turn southeast onto Herman Road and take it for 7 miles until you reach the small town of Herman. Turn left onto Lystila Road and shortly after turn right onto Lahti Road. Follow Lahti Road for one mile. Continue straight on Summit Road for another mile, taking the dirt road on the left at 46.665374, -88.323100. If it’s been raining 4WD is recommend to on this road. When this is the case, park on the side of the road and hike to the river. If the road is in good shape, continue .8 miles until you get to a closed bridge over the Silver River. There’s space for one, maybe two cars here. There are no trails to these waterfalls so pick a side and start your hike. All five drops are within the next half mile. GPS is useful but not required.
So what’d you think? Have some of these been added to your to-do list and if so, which ones?