Tahquamenon Falls State Park - Lower Falls
The Lower Falls on the Tahquamenon River were not an intended target on this, our first trip to the Upper Peninsula in three years. I had visited the falls numerous times in the winter during seasons past and knew that it was a bit of a walk (usually requiring snowshoes) from the winter parking area to see them. En route to the larger Upper Falls we pulled in on the off-chance winter access had changed during our years of absence. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, though we couldn't park any closer than I expected, the access road down to the falls had recently been cleared!! It didn't take much discussion to decide that we should capitalize on our good fortune and make a quick jaunt down to the Lower Falls.
Lower Tahquamenon Falls are the lesser of the two main drops which give the State Park its name. Located a couple miles downstream from their more visually stimulating big brother, the Lower Falls are none-the-less unique in their own right. The falls are formed where the river drops over a 10' shelf of limestone at a point where the waters are split in two by a large midstream island. In the summer you can rent a rowboat or canoe and head over to the island where a short loop trail takes you along its cedar lined periphery right past the falls which cascade along either side of it. This visit found a good 3+ feet of snow still on the ground and all the facilities still shut tight so there'd unfortunately be no trip over to the island. This inevitably meant distant and less-than-photogenic views of the Lower Falls but that didn't detract from the enjoyment of once again being able to wander the snowy North Woods. Come along on this short, admittedly unspectacular, but highly enjoyable hike...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 46.606633, -85.199470
Route Type: Lollipop Difficulty: HARD (due to winter conditions)
Hike Length: ~1.5 miles Hike Duration: 1:00
Trailhead Temp: 40'F Trail Traffic: 10-25 people
Min. Elevation: 610' Max. Elevation: 750'
Total Vertical Gain: 140'
Trails Used (blaze color): Lower Falls Winter Trail (blue)