About Miners Falls
Miners Falls (I’ve also seen it referred to as Miner’s Falls) was a well-flowing 40ft waterfall (though I’ve seen inconsistent numbers from the NPS literature claiming it was 50ft and 60ft tall) in a pretty well-protected part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The falls had nice flow because it belonged to the Miners River and its watershed was protected for the most part as it was under the care of the National Parks System. This was really our waterfalling excuse to get a preview of the famed Pictured Rocks Cruise as this hike was done as a stopover on our way over to the nearby Miner’s Castle, which itself was an impressive rock formation jutting out onto Lake Superior. It turned out to be a “preview” because all cruises were cancelled on the day we did this hike due to high winds and turbulent waters. So that kind of made the trail for the falls very busy with other visitors looking for stuff to do while waiting out an opportunity to do the cruise like we were.
Speaking of the hike, the trail was said to be 1.2 miles round trip. The hike from the limited car park (see directions below) was pretty much virtually flat under a nearly constant canopy of tall trees (said to be a combination of beech, maple, birch, and pine trees). There were numbered posts, which helped to keep our daughter occupied on the hike, but they were also keyed to an interpretive guide posted at a sign board by the trailhead as well as in a PDF file on the National Park Service website for Pictured Rocks. In order to follow along while hiking when there’s no hard copy available, it’s possible to take a photo of the interpretive sign at the trailhead then refer to that photo as you go. Otherwise, you’d have to do some pre-hike research and either save the guide on your phone to follow along offline or just print out a copy.
The pleasant hike was on a wide gravel trail for almost its entire length. It made me wonder if this trail used to be an unpaved road at one point. Anyways, the cool, crisp air on the day of our visit (thanks to the high winds and wind chill factor) was a refreshing change to the hot and humid weather we had been uncomfortably used to both back at home and during the first few days of our Great Lakes Trip. But eventually the gravel trail had split near its end. Keeping right at the split quickly led us to a dead-end with a partial view of Miners Falls. Keeping left at the split led us down some 77-80 steps to a small lookout platform directly peering down towards the front of the attractive falls.
There wasn’t a whole lot of room at this lookout, and it didn’t take long before it became crowded (again, probably due to the cruise cancellations on the day of our visit). So we didn’t linger here for as long as we would’ve liked. Then again, we saw some younger visitors hop the wooden railings and scramble further down below the lookout deck to get closer to the base of the falls. It actually looked like the trail used to continue down to the base as there were remnants of stairs immediately below the viewing platform. We didn’t do as the younger folks did, but it didn’t seem that difficult nor excessively risky to do. Now whether we’d be cited if we were caught or tattled on might be a different story… Anyways, this hike took us about 50 minutes away from the car, which included the stops and the picture-taking.
Miners Falls was about 10 miles east of Munising, Michigan. We got there by driving east on the H-58, which left the Hwy 28 at Cedar St and East Munising Ave at the east end of town. We remained on the H-58 (East Munising Ave) for about 5 miles to the well-signed Miners Castle Road (look for the brown signs for Miners Castle to the left). Turning left onto Miners Castle Rd, we then drove for 3.7 miles before turning right onto the unpaved Falls Rd. We then drove the remaining mile on the unpaved road to its dead-end at the Miners Falls car park. This drive took us roughly 15 minutes.
There weren’t enough parking spaces for the number of visitors that showed up on the day we were there (we were lucky to score a spot when we showed up). So we noticed some folks (including a car or two that showed up after us) park in the adjacent clearing that was supposed to be for RVs or vehicles with trailers. If those spots would also fill up, then I’m not quite sure how to park the car without blocking traffic.
Marquette was 146 miles (under 3 hours drive) east of Ironwood, 168 miles (over 3 hours drive) northwest of Mackinaw City, 392 miles (over 6.5 hours drive) northeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota, 382 miles (over 6 hours drive) north of Chicago, Illinois (via Green Bay, Wisconsin), and 455 miles (7 hours drive) northwest of Detroit, Michigan.
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