Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the Upper Peninsula is one of the most beautiful state parks in Michigan.  Unlike most of the other state parks, Tahquamenon Falls is not located on the shore of a Great Lake.  This makes it more like the state parks we have in Ohio.  We visited the park on our way back to Sault Ste Marie after going to the Shipwreck Museum.  Sandy wanted to see some waterfalls.  Of course, Sandy also wanted to see every lighthouse and beach.  She always wants to get the most out of any vacation.


Map of the falls area


Tahquamenon Falls State Park has the largest waterfall in Michigan.  The Upper Falls drops 50 feet and is 200 feet across.  Four miles downstream is the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island.  The Upper and Lower Falls are very accessible, with viewing only a short walk from large parking lots.

Walking to the Lower Falls viewing area

We went to the Lower Falls first because it is the most accessible.  We wanted Bob and Eric to be able to enjoy the falls.  They stayed at the first viewing area, while Tom, Sandy, and I did a quick two-mile hike to the island between the falls.  We got to see the falls from lots of different viewpoints.  We especially enjoyed the close-up views of the Lower Falls.  The falls are amber-colored from tannins in the swamps that drain into the river.  The water is so soft from the tannins that it froths, earning the falls the nickname, “Root Beer Falls.”  The trail to the island is handicapped accessible, so we could have taken Bob in the wheelchair.

Lower Falls on either side of the island
One side of the Lower Falls
The other side of the Lower Falls

After a nice walk and some time enjoying the Lower Falls, we got back in the truck to drive to the Upper Falls.  When we got to the Upper Falls parking lot, we were surprised to find the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub.  It was a very busy place, with lots of people enjoying a beer outside.  The trail to the Upper Falls is less than half a mile, but to view the falls you have to climb lots of steps.  There were 116 steps for the Gorge View and 94 steps for the Brink View.

Eric and Bob decided to stay in the truck.  Sandy, Tom and I headed down to the Upper Falls.  We decided we wanted to see it “head on” instead of from above, so we opted for the Gorge View.  We climbed down the steps, walked along the Gorge boardwalk, and arrived at the viewing area.  It was a lovely view of a very beautiful waterfall.  Worth the effort of climbing back up the steps.  We suspected that Eric wanted to stay behind so he could grab a beer.  He said he thought about it, but decided not to because he was driving.

Upper Falls, the largest waterfall in Michigan

In addition to the falls, Tahquamenon Falls State Park has four campgrounds, 50,000 acres, and miles of hiking trails.  Obviously there was a lot more to see and explore than what we did while we were there.  They are building a new Visitors Center which looked like it would be worth a return visit.  I have heard good things about the campgrounds and hiking in the park.  The North Country Trail runs all the way through the park.  We thought about taking the Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat tour, which includes a ride on a narrow-gauge railroad, but it was an all-day excursion so we decided to skip it on this trip.

We enjoyed our trip to Tahquamenon Falls State Park very much.  It would be a wonderful place to visit again and stay for a while.