When the splashes of crimson and amber begin their takeover among the foliage, a beautiful transformation happens to the forest that beckons admiration. Fall is a serene time for new adventures and old – as what could be familiar landscapes to you leave behind their greenery for a bright new display.
As trees pop with an array of new color, one destination you should pop over to is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As an outdoor wonderland, the Upper Peninsula’s expansive natural beauty offers the perfect canvas for fall’s palette of colors. It’s even been voted as a top-five fall color destination by USA Today readers four years in a row – including the number one spot in 2018 and 2020.
With fall colors pouring into the landscapes, it provides a unique backdrop to the Upper Peninsula’s pouring waterfalls. Part of what makes the Upper Peninsula such an outdoor wonderland are the 300-plus waterfalls peppered throughout the area. You’ll find waterfalls that range in size with 5-foot to 110-foot vertical drops. And with many requiring a hike to reach, waterfalls provide an adventurous destination for those not ready to say goodbye to the outdoors in the changing seasons.
Since there are so many waterfalls to witness in their fall color splendor, we’ve outlined five favorites.
Tahquamenon Falls, one of the signature waterfalls of the Upper Peninsula, is an intrinsic choice to include in any fall color tour. Tahquamenon Falls State Park encompasses close to 50,000 acres that stretch over 13 miles, and there you will find The Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. The Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, with a drop of nearly 50 feet and stretching 200 feet across. The Upper Falls are accessible along a quarter-mile paved trail to viewing areas. You can even climb on down to the brink viewing platform and feel the mist while getting an up-close look.
The Lower Falls is a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island. These falls are located four miles east of the Upper Falls along M-123 and are easily viewed from a paved walkway. For a closer look, visitors can traverse the boardwalk through the forest.
Year-round camping is even available in Tahquamenon Falls State Park for those who truly want to immerse themselves in fall color.
Bond Falls is located on the middle branch of the Ontonagon River, where it gushes over fractured rock that divides it into numerous small cascades. This popular scenic site features roadside parking and a picnic area to take in the 50-foot vertical drop of the falls. Additionally, there is a trail on the east side of the falls for hikers, among other trails for exploring. Whether part of a quick visit during a fall color drive or as a spot for a peaceful hike, include this beautiful deluge on your fall itinerary.
The Manabezho Falls are located along the final mile of the Presque Isle River before hitting Lake Superior. As the largest waterfall on the river, it features a 25-foot drop and a crest of 150 feet. While you can catch a partial look of the falls from an overlook at a nearby parking lot, it’s recommended to hit one of the trails along either side of the river for a better view. You’ll find several marked trailheads that can get you to the falls, which is named after an Ojibway spirit God. It’s also a popular picnic area. Located in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, which covers 60,000 acres with more than 90 miles of hiking trails, Manabezho Falls is a must for any fall adventurer.
Of course, no list of scenic spots in the Upper Peninsula is complete without a mention of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Spray Falls is a 70-foot plunge over the cliffs directly into Lake Superior. Taking in the majesty of Spray Falls is well-earned as the shortest hike to see it is about five miles roundtrip from the Little Beaver Lake Campground. You can also hop in a kayak and witness the spectacle by water for a whole different perspective. Including Spray Falls on your fall itinerary checks many boxes, as you’ll not only view the wonders of the cliffs along Pictured Rocks Lakeshore, but indelible fall color and an impressive waterfall. It’s a trifecta certain to rack up the Instagram likes.
Canyon Falls is one of the best waterfalls along the mighty Sturgeon River. To see this powerful waterfall, visitors can complete a two-mile round trip hike. Its trailhead is located at a roadside park along Highway 41 about 15 miles south of L’Anse. Exploring this fall also situates you at the Canyon Gorge, known by many as “Michigan’s Grand Canyon.” You can continue following a trail beyond the falls, which follows the gorge. The rocks here are broken along straight line faults, which creates a boxy canyon – it eventually widens and deepens farther downstream from Canyon Falls.
Plan your Upper Peninsula excursion today!
This article was published on MLive.com.