Lower Tahquamenon Falls

near Paradise / near Newberry / Luce County, Michigan, USA

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 2
Lower Tahquamenon Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Lower Tahquamenon Falls was the other of two major waterfalls featured along the Tahquamenon River in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. While the Upper Falls dazzled us with its size and classical block appearance, the Lower Falls was really a series of five disjoint cascades roughly 10ft for each drop while split by an island. The overall drop was said to be roughly 20ft give or take. Some of these tiers might have felt more like rapids than waterfalls, but I guess when you combine the width with the combination of all of these drops together, I could see why there was infrastructure centered around these falls.

From the well-signed and developed car park for the Lower Falls (see directions below), we followed the trail and boardwalk which went by a concession area before continuing on towards some lookouts with distant views of the pair of waterfalls to the left side of the island (see picture at the top of this page). These views were about 0.2 miles from the car park. We saw that there were partial views hinting at the remaining waterfalls on the opposite side of the island to the right, but we had to walk further on the boardwalk to get there.

View across a wide and calm part of the Tahquamenon River towards the left side of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls while there was still fog in front of it As we continued walking along the boardwalk, we reached a fork where the steps to the left led down to a dock containing a bunch of row boats. Apparently, we could have rented these boats to get across the Tahquamenon River and wind up at the island splitting the Lower Tahquamenon Falls. It would be from the island that we would've been able to get close to all five of the waterfalls comprising the Lower Falls. However, during our visit, the row boat rentals were closed for the season so it must have been a Summer only activity. Shortly beyond this row boat dock, the trail continued skirting a wide part of the Tahquamenon River before reaching another lookout with interpretive signs providing a more frontal view of the distant pair of waterfalls to the left of the island.

At this point, the trail continued along the river on a boardwalk (called the "River Trail"), and it did this for the next 0.3 miles (roughly 0.5 miles from the trailhead). The walkway was flanked by trees as well as a few interpretive signs waxing poetic about this place as well as some information regarding various aspects of the Nature here. Once we got to the first of the River Trail Viewing Platforms, we managed to get a real up-close and frontal view of the upper two drops of the Lower Falls to the right side of the island. The viewing platform was also wide enough to walk over to its end where we also got to peer over the top of the bottommost drop along with a nice view of the calm part of the river just below the last of the Lower Falls.

Continuing along the River Trail boardwalk for the next 0.1 miles led us to the last of the viewing decks besides the Lower Falls. This time, it was of the uppermost drop, which was probably on the order of 5ft. What stood out about this drop was its width, but I could easily see under higher flow that this drop might be hidden as rapids. This was our turnaround point. However, the River Trail boardwalk would ultimately continue as a primitive trail hugging the Tahquamenon River for the next 4 miles or so before reaching the familiar trails at the Upper Falls. Apparently, the park would run shuttle services to make it possible to do this entire hike from the one waterfall to the next and then shuttle back to the original car park. This service was also closed for the season upon our visit as it would only run during the Summer months.

Overall, our visit to take in as much as we could without being able to hike on the island was roughly an hour. Julie and I noticed that there was a lot of infrastructure at the Lower Falls in the form of multiple car parks, large picnic areas and shelters, concession buildings, and several campgrounds. Even the kiosk at the turnoff leaving the M-128 road for the Lower Falls was manned ($10 for non-resident vehicles for the day) while the Upper Falls was not. We were kind of scratching our heads as to why the more impressive Upper Falls lacked the same kind of infrastructure as the Lower Falls, but then we concluded that it must be the cheap accommodations in the form of campgrounds and RV sites that must've been the main for all the developments here.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

About 90 minutes drive southeast of Lower Falls was Mackinaw City, which featured the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron as well as some history at Colonial Michilimackinac About 90 minutes drive southeast of Lower Falls was Mackinaw City, which featured the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron as well as some history at Colonial Michilimackinac
Perhaps the most compelling natural feature on Mackinac Island (roughly an hour-long ferry ride from Mackinaw City) was the Natural Arch, which was about two miles walk from the downtown area Perhaps the most compelling natural feature on Mackinac Island (roughly an hour-long ferry ride from Mackinaw City) was the Natural Arch, which was about two miles walk from the downtown area
About 3 hours drive southwest of Mackinaw City was the Sleeping Bear Dunes near Traverse City on the shores of Lake Michigan. Not only were the dunes fun to climb, but the scenery was also very nice About 3 hours drive southwest of Mackinaw City was the Sleeping Bear Dunes near Traverse City on the shores of Lake Michigan. Not only were the dunes fun to climb, but the scenery was also very nice
About 90 minutes drive west of Tahquamenon Falls State Park was Munising and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which featured the colorful and rugged Pictured Rocks About 90 minutes drive west of Tahquamenon Falls State Park was Munising and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which featured the colorful and rugged Pictured Rocks
Julie and Tahia starting on the walk from the large car park to the Lower FallsJulie and Tahia starting on the walk from the large car park to the Lower Falls

Looking towards the concession buildings at the Lower FallsLooking towards the concession buildings at the Lower Falls

The trail skirted along wooden railings providing some opportunities to get distant views across the wide Tahquamenon River towards parts of the Lower Tahquamenon FallsThe trail skirted along wooden railings providing some opportunities to get distant views across the wide Tahquamenon River towards the Lower Tahquamenon Falls

Broad view across a calm and wide part of the Tahquamenon River reflecting trees as well as providing a distant view of the left side of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls. We still had some morning fog around the waterfall to contend with thoughBroad view across a calm and wide part of the Tahquamenon River reflecting trees as well as providing a distant view of the left side of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls. We still had some morning fog around the waterfall to contend with though

On the long boardwalk leading us closer to the brinks of some of the Lower FallsOn the long boardwalk leading us closer to the brinks of some of the Lower Falls

Approaching the entrance for the main lookout closest to the three waterfalls making up the Lower Falls to the right side of the islandApproaching the entrance for the main lookout closest to the three waterfalls making up the Lower Falls to the right side of the island

Looking upstream towards the upper two drops of the right side of the Lower Tahquamenon FallsLooking upstream towards the upper two drops of the right side of the Lower Falls

Looking directly up towards the upper two tiers of the right side of the Lower Tahquamenon FallsLooking directly up towards the upper two tiers of the right side of the Lower Falls

Looking down over the top of the last drop of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls towards a wide part of the Tahquamenon River with a scattering of some fall colorsLooking down over the top of the last drop of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls towards a wide part of the Tahquamenon River with a scattering of some fall colors

This was the boardwalk continuing the River Trail towards the brink of the uppermost drop of the Lower Tahquamenon FallsThis was the boardwalk continuing the River Trail towards the brink of the uppermost drop of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls

Looking across the uppermost drop of the Lower Tahquamenon FallsLooking across the uppermost drop of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls

Julie and Tahia on the boardwalk heading back towards the trailheadJulie and Tahia on the boardwalk heading back towards the trailhead

When we returned to the lookouts for the left side of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls, we noticed that it was late enough in the morning for the fog to disappearWhen we returned to the lookouts for the left side of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls, we noticed that it was late enough in the morning for the fog to disappear

Finally back at the large car parkFinally back at the large car park


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Showing the lower falls from perhaps the entrance of the lookout before walking towards the end of the lookout showing the downstream scenery from above the last tier of the closest series of falls


Movie showing the profile of part of the main section of the lower falls before walking further upstream on the boardwalk towards the brink of the uppermost drop


Movie showing the other side of the lower falls from a couple of different angles at the same lookout before zooming out to show the context of the calm river and falls together


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The Lower Tahquamenon Falls was accessed from its very built-up and dedicated car park in the state park. From Paradise, Michigan, we drove about 10.5 miles west on the M-123 to the well-signed turnoff on the left for "Lower Falls". This was about 3.5 miles east of the turnoff for the "Upper Falls". Overall, this drive took us less than 20 minutes. At the car park, there was an entrance kiosk that was manned so we had to pay $10 non-resident fee for the Michigan Recreation Passport for the day of our visit. The pass was also good for the Upper Falls on the same day.

For directions on getting here from Munising or Newberry instead of Paradise, see the directions to the Upper Falls page.

For additional reference, Newberry, Michigan was 69 miles (90 minutes drive) northwest of Mackinaw City, 428 miles (7 hours drive) north of Chicago, Illinois (via Green Bay, Wisconsin), 479 miles (8 hours drive) east of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and 357 miles (5.5 hours drive) northwest of Detroit, Michigan.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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