Little Manitou Falls

Pattison State Park / Superior, Wisconsin, USA

About Little Manitou Falls

Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2015-09-26
Date last visited: 2015-09-26

Waterfall Latitude: 46.52186
Waterfall Longitude: -92.12655

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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.

Little_Manitou_Falls_004_09262015 - Little Manitou Falls
Little Manitou Falls

In fact, we thought it turned out to steal the show from its bigger neighbor because it wasn’t in fog during our visit.

Experiencing Little Manitou Falls

Overall, the experience 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.

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 but narrower waterfall would be quite a sight to behold, I’m sure!

Big_Manitou_Falls_035_09262015 - Big Manitou Falls, which was even more shrouded in fog than the Little Manitou Falls during our visit
Big Manitou Falls, which was even more shrouded in fog than the Little Manitou Falls during our visit

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.

However, 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 parking lot at Camp Pattison.

Then, we just had to go right across the road for the short jaunts to the viewpoints of the Little Manitou Falls.

As a result, we were able to give this excursion a 1 in the difficulty rating.

Finally, for photography reasons, the presence of fog kind of benefitted our visit because we were looking against the sun during our mid-morning visit.

Little_Manitou_Falls_054_09262015 - It was a short descent on these steps to reach the viewing area right in front of the Little Manitou Falls
It was a short descent on these steps to reach the viewing area right in front of the Little Manitou Falls

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.

Camp Pattison

Something that caught our attention about Little Manitou Falls was that it was apparently the site of Camp Pattison from 1935-1942.

That 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.

Little_Manitou_Falls_050_09262015 - Context of part of the Little Manitou Falls and the continuation of the Black River
Context of part of the Little Manitou Falls and the continuation of the Black River

Such projects largely resulted in the kinds of trails, lookouts, and picnic areas that we were able to benefit from to this day.

Moreover, in times of financial turmoil, I’d imagine the sense of purpose from such projects must’ve been uplifting for those workers from the standpoint that the work was happening in areas of natural beauty.

They might also be getting team-building experience 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 in Autumn 2015.


Little Manitou Falls resides in Pattison State Park near Superior in Douglas County, Wisconsin. It is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Little_Manitou_Falls_013_09262015 - Looking at Little Manitou Falls just a few paces further along the trail. Note the hint of Fall Colors starting to come through
Little_Manitou_Falls_017_09262015 - More zoomed in look at the Little Manitou Falls in long exposure as the sun was starting to break through the fog
Little_Manitou_Falls_030_09262015 - Direct look at the Little Manitou Falls in long exposure

Little Manitou Falls was barely 1.5 miles from Big Manitou Falls.

For directions on getting to Big Manitou Falls from Superior, WI, 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.

Little_Manitou_Falls_001_09262015 - The restroom facility and the parking area for the Little Manitou Falls
The restroom facility and the parking area for the Little Manitou Falls

A well-signed turnoff on the left will lead onto a short road, where the Camp Pattison Site and Little Manitou Falls lot 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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Frontal view of Little Manitou Falls from a couple of slightly different angles

Examining Little Manitou Falls from its base starting from the rough scrambling path to get down here; then sweeping along the river before checking out the waterfall itself

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Tagged with: pattison, state park, superior, wisconsin, duluth, minnesota, douglas county, waterfall, great lakes, midwest, usa, black river

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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