Tahquamenon Falls State
Tahquamenon Falls is an easy drive along M-123, the highway offers a loop from Highway M-28 through Paradise, past Tahquamenon Falls State Park, through Newberry and back to M-28. (map) This beautiful falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park is hidden in the forest along the Tahquamenon River and is easily accessible for those seeking the quiet and solitude of the Upper Peninsula wilderness.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park encompasses close to 52,000 acres stretching over 13 miles. Most of this is undeveloped woodland without roads, buildings or power lines. Centerpiece of the park, and the very reason for its existence, is the Tahquamenon River with its waterfalls.
The Upper Falls is one of 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 its precipice.
A paved pathway (.4 mile) leads from the parking lot at the Upper Falls, through an old growth forest to the observation platforms at the crest of the Falls and is handicap accessible. Steps lead to the bottom of the falls where the water crashes into the Tahquamenon River. There is a 4 mile hiking trail along the river to the Lower Falls. (Park map)
A restaurant and gift shop are located at the Upper Falls. Originally a logging camp, the building is a replica of the original camp, Camp 33. There is a large deck with a fireplace and places to sit and relax. There are picnic tables scattered near the trail entrance for enjoying a picnic lunch. Handicap accessible restrooms are located by the entrance to the trail that leads to the Upper 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. They 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.
The Tahquamenon rises from springs north of McMillan and drains an area of more than 820 square miles. From its source, it meanders 94 miles before emptying into Whitefish Bay. The amber color of the water is not rust nor is it muddiness. It is caused by tannin 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 extensive amounts of foam which has been the trademark of theTahquamenon since the days of the voyageurs.
The park offers visitors a wide variety of recreational opportunities. During the spring and summer, camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, nature study and photography are popular activities. Fall colors provide a beautiful picturesque view of the park. In addition, hunters will find ample opportunities to pursue their sport.
Tahquamenon Falls is open year round. From the voluminous flowage of spring runoff through the bright days of summer, brilliant colors of fall, topped off by the spectacular ice sculpturing of the Upper Falls; each season has its own beauty.
Winter offers opportunity for snowmobiling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing with miles of marked trails. Ice formations along Lake Superior and frozen waterfalls are a photographers delight.
A pair of moose wander the park land and can sometimes be spotted by visitors, as can the bald eagles which make their home here. Black bear, coyotes, otter, deer, fox, porcupine, beaver and mink are a few of the other wildlife to be seen in the park. The abundant bird life includes Spruce Grouse, Sharptail Grouse, Pileated Woodpeckers and a variety of waterfowl and songbirds. The area is one of the few nesting sites in Michigan for the Sandhill Crane. Birding in Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Park Map.
There are 25 miles of hiking trails wandering through more than 52,000 acres of wilderness so you can take a long or short walk through the forest. There is an .8 mile nature trail near the Upper Falls or you can walk back to Clark Lake and Betsy Lake on the Natural Area Pathway. A segment of the North Country Trail runs through the park from the Lower Falls to the Rivermouth.
During the summer, the Park Interpretive Staff has special free programs and offers guided hikes during the week for you to enjoy. Check at Park Campground Office at the Lower Falls for information.
Four campgrounds are available in the park; two modern campgrounds at the Lower Falls and a modern and rustic campground are located at the Rivermouth. Each modern campground has approximately 90 sites and each site is equipped with electricity, a ground fire ring and table. Other features of the modern campgrounds are warm showers and flush toilets. Sanitation stations are available at the Lower Falls and Rivermouth Units. There is not a campground at the Upper Falls. Rustic Camping is available near Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Lodging is available in Newberry and Paradise.
Hiawatha and the lumberjacks are gone now, but they whisper from the past, in the rushing waterfall, the murmur of the water eddying around the island, the wind sighing through the cedar boughs and the giant pines still to be seen in this wooded wonderland.
Pets are permitted at Tahquamenon Falls State Park but must be on a 6' leash and under your control at all times.
Fees: Michigan Residents need to purchase a Recreational Passport for admission to Michigan State Parks. The Recreational Passport can be purchased when renewing a vehicle license plate, at the Office of the Secretary of State, or at the entrance to the park.
Non-Residents: You need a State Park Motor Vehicle Permit to
enter Tahquamenon Falls State Park. $9.00 daily, $31.00 yearly
Things to see and do near Tahquamenon Falls State Park
The Toonerville Trolley and Riverboat Tour, Soo Junction, MI. Phone 1-888-77TRAIN or the Depot at 906-876-2311. Take the train and boat tour to Tahquamenon Falls or the Wilderness Train Ride. Just 50 miles from the Mackinac Bridge. Ride 5 1/2 miles to the Tahquamenon River. The Riverboat takes you on a 21 mile narrated cruise along the river to the rapids 1/2 mile above the Upper Tahquamenon Falls.
Photos: Winter at Tahquamenon Falls by Mark Bolen, Digisharp Photography