A Tour of Lake Michigan WaterFalls

Lake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes, and it is surrounded by enormous sand dunes and lovely beaches. However it got the short end of the waterfall stick. Compared to the other Great Lakes it is seriously lacking in waterfalls, and most of the few it has are on the small side.

The southern and western end of Lake Michigan is nothing but sand. In many cases the sand is quite impressive, including sand dunes over 400 feet high. However water cuts right through sand, and as a result there are no waterfalls.

If you were to travel around the lake in a clockwise direction starting in Michigan's Lower Peninsula the first waterfalls you would encounter are Fonferek Falls and Wequiock Falls near Green Bay Wisconsin. These waterfalls are both the result of the tail end of the Niagara Escarpment. Both of these waterfalls are a short drive from I-43 and they both get pretty thin and even dry up entirely in the summer.

North of Green Bay the landscape gets a bit rockier. From Green Bay head north on US 41/141 into Marinette County, the self proclaimed Waterfall Capitol of Wisconsin. Here you will find a number of small waterfalls, mostly of the slide variety. Dave's Falls is small, but easy to visit and surrounded by some impressive rock. The descriptively named Twelve Foot Falls and Eighteen Foot Falls are in the forests west of Pembine. North of Pembine you will find the 50 foot Long Slide Falls. This is the highest waterfall in the entire Lake Michigan watershed. www.marinettecounty.com provides a complete list of the waterfalls that can be found in the area.

North of Marinette County is Florence County where you can find Lasalle Falls. This is another slide falls reached by a one mile hike. On the Michigan Wisconsin border you will find the low but wide Misicot Falls plus and other rapids in Piers Gorge.

Just north of Piers Gorge in Michigan's U.P. you will find the small roadside Fumee Falls along US 2. If you continue west on US 2 you can find Chicagon Falls, a small remote waterfall near Crystal Falls MI.

There are some more waterfalls whose waters eventually make it to Lake Michigan. Some are really just rapids, such as the falls on the Menominee River. Some have been dammed, like what once might have been a waterfall in Escanaba. Some of the waterfalls in Marquette County actually are in the Lake Michigan Watershed despite their close proximity to Lake Superior. Black River Falls for example, is nearly 90 miles from Lake Michigan, but only 20 miles from Lake Superior. This is one of the more impressive falls in the Lake Michigan watershed.

East of Escanaba the shores of Lake Michigan are again covered with impressive sand dunes, but no waterfalls.

There actually is one waterfall in the lower peninsula that is in the Lake Michigan Watershed. While building the Manistee River Trail, a small 8 foot cascade was discovered falling into the Manistee River. Not exactly spectacular, but quite the rarity for the lower peninsula.

This map shows the locations of some of the waterfalls around Lake Michigan. Autrain Falls, Munising Falls, and Tahquamenon Falls are all in the Lake Superior watershed.

Tahquamenon Falls Laughing Whitefish Falls Long Slide Falls Miners Falls Black River Falls Dave's Falls Fonferek Falls Wequiock Falls Chicagon Falls Lasalle Falls Big Smokey Falls Strong Falls

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Last Modified: Monday, 21-Sep-2009 18:52:24 MDT.