Canyon Falls, the Grand Canyon of Michigan

Canyon Falls is the Grand Canyon of Michigan.  If you have been reading the blog for a while, you knew I would get to it eventually.  There is no way I would spend almost a month in a state without telling you about the Grand Canyon of that state.

Unfortunately, our travel time in Michigan with Sandy and Eric concluded before we saw the Grand Canyon of Michigan.  We packed a lot into the two weeks we had together, but then it was time for Sandy to go back to work.  Tom and I continued north and west.  Sandy, Eric, and Bob headed back toward Ohio.

Canyon Falls

The first thing we did after leaving Sandy and Eric was visit Canyon Falls, a little roadside park along US 41.  In order to get there, we drove through some beautiful areas.  We drove past Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (again), through the Hiawatha National Forest, and through Marquette.  The Falls trail is where US 41 crosses the Sturgeon River.

In keeping with the grandness of the Grand Canyon, we expected Canyon Falls to be a spectacular drop into a river valley with stunning, rocky walls.  Instead, we had a lovely walk beside a flowing river that dropped down into a beautiful but moderate gorge. When we first pulled into the parking lot at Canyon Falls we were surprised by the number of people.  This is a roadside park along a US highway, so it had picnic tables, restrooms, and an unimpressive trailhead.  Many people were taking advantage of the wonderful day to stretch their legs as they continued on to their destinations.   Tom and I were there, on the other hand, specifically to see Canyon Falls.

Sturgeon River

The official Michigan website, Pure Michigan, calls Canyon Falls the “Grand Canyon of the UP.”  The website says that the falls are easy to visit and the gorge is impressive by Michigan standards.  I would agree with both of those statements.  The trail along the Sturgeon River is well-marked and well-traveled.  When you reach the 30-foot waterfall, the river empties into a box canyon with steep walls.  The trail along the river is part of the North Country National Scenic Trail.  My research suggests that the canyon in which the river travels is even more impressive farther along.

Tom and I walked along the trail for a little over a mile to the falls and beyond.  We scrambled over rocks into the canyon in order to get better pictures.  Canyon Falls itself is very nice and there were lots of people enjoying the view.  I’m sure the falls are even more impressive in the spring when there is a larger volume of water plunging over them.

Canyon Falls is not the grandest of Grand Canyons, but it was a beautiful place for a hike.  We enjoyed our walk along the river.  By continuing on the trail beyond the falls, it was easy to get away from the crowds.  The trail is not as easy to find past the waterfall, but we could follow the blue blazes and keep going in the correct, general direction.

I’m not sure I would recommend going out of your way to visit Canyon Falls, but it was a wonderful place for an afternoon walk.  If you happen to be heading to the Keweenaw Peninsula, it is worth a stop.