Little Manitou Falls was a pleasantly wide waterfall where we managed to have the opportunity to experience it in a closer and more intimate manner given how easily accessible it was. It certainly exceeded our lowered expectations given its name, especially when compared to its neighbor at Big Manitou Falls. In fact, it turned out to steal the show from its bigger neighbor because it wasn’t in fog during our visit. And the experience overall was very compact and easy as it merely took us 25 minutes to take in all the views and even sneak in a short scramble to its base.
Something that caught our attention about this falls was that it was apparently the site of Camp Pattison from 1935-1942, which was a Civilian Conservation Corp project during the Great Depression. Little did we realize that this public works project would be a recurring theme as numerous other natural sites would feature some remnant or history pertaining to other public works projects that largely resulted in the kinds of trails, lookouts, and picnic areas that we were able to benefit from to this day. Such projects in times of financial turmoil must’ve been uplifting for those workers from the standpoint that the work was happening in areas of natural beauty while also getting team-building as well as a modest paycheck to help the families back at home. Little Manitou Falls just happened to be the first one we encountered on our Great Lakes Trip.
While this falls was modestly sized at 30ft tall, the Black River was split when we saw it. Apparently, this was normal flow, but we could imagine how the entire span of the river would be filled only during times of flood. Since this shared the same river as that of Big Manitou Falls, under such conditions, the channeling action going on at the larger waterfall would be quite a sight to behold, I’m sure! Speaking of the bigger waterfall, there was a modest-sized trail of 3 miles round trip (1.5 miles in each direction; 1.5 hours round trip on walking time alone) to take in both falls, but for a one-hour visit that we were permitted for (see directions below), we opted instead to do the much easier and quicker drive to the car park at Camp Pattison, which was right across the road from the short jaunts to the viewpoints of the falls. Thus, we were able to give this excursion a 1 in the difficulty rating.
Finally, for photography reasons, the lifting fog kind of benefitted our visit because we were looking against the sun during our mid-morning visit. The fog helped to block the sun’s rays and allowed for us to get the photos you see on this page. Otherwise, the photos wouldn’t have turned out.
Little Manitou Falls was barely 1.5 miles from Big Manitou Falls. For directions on getting to Big Manitou Falls, see the directions on its page.
From the Big Manitou Falls Parking Lot, go back to the WI-35 and turn right onto it to go south for just under a mile. A well-signed turnoff on the left will lead onto a short road, where the Camp Pattison Site and Little Manitou Falls car park would be located just 0.1-mile further.
For geographical context, Superior, Wisconsin was 153 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) north of Minneapolis, Minnesota, 196 miles (about 4 hours drive) southwest of Thunder Bay, Canada, and 392 miles (6 hours drive) northwest of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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