Miners Falls

Munising / Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, USA

About Miners Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2015-09-29
Date last visited: 2015-09-29

Waterfall Latitude: 46.47428
Waterfall Longitude: -86.53115

Miners Falls (I’ve also seen it referred to as Miner’s Falls) was a well-flowing 40ft waterfall in a pretty well-protected part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

I’ve seen inconsistent numbers from the NPS (National Parks Service) literature claiming that it was 50ft as well as 60ft tall.

Miners_Falls_030_09292015 - Miners Falls
Miners Falls

Nevertheless, this waterfall had nice flow because it belonged to the Miners River, and its watershed was protected for the most part under the care of the National Parks System.

This was really our waterfalling excuse to get a preview of the scenery from the famed Pictured Rocks Cruise as this hike was done as a stopover on our way over to the nearby Miner’s Castle.

The Miner’s Castle was an impressive rock formation jutting out onto the choppy 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.

Miners_Castle_014_09292015 - Miners Castle was that rock formation jutting out into Lake Superior, but given the choppy conditions of our visit, the cliffs were producing blowholes!
Miners Castle was that rock formation jutting out into Lake Superior, but given the choppy conditions of our visit, the cliffs were producing blowholes!

So that kind of made the trail for the Miners Falls very busy with other visitors looking for stuff to do while waiting out an opportunity to do the cruise like we were.

Hiking to Miners Falls

The trail to Miners Falls was said to be 1.2 miles round trip.

Leaving the trailhead (see directions below), we went on a pretty much virtually flat gravel surface under a nearly constant canopy of tall trees (said to be a combination of beech, maple, birch, and pine trees).

Along the trail, there were numbered posts, which helped to keep our daughter occupied on the hike.

Miners_Falls_005_09292015 - Tahia walking towards the interpretive sign board at the Miners Falls Trailhead, which had the key to the numerical posts explaining what we were seeing along the hike
Tahia walking towards the interpretive sign board at the Miners Falls Trailhead, which had the key to the numerical posts explaining what we were seeing along the hike

These numbers were 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.

Anyways, the pleasant hike remained on its wide gravel surface for almost its entire length.

Miners_Falls_012_09292015 - Julie and Tahia on the pleasant forested trail leading to Miners Falls
Julie and Tahia on the pleasant forested trail leading to Miners Falls

It made me wonder if this trail used to be an unpaved road at one point.

Eventually, we reached a split in the trail near its end.

Keeping right at the split quickly led us to a dead-end with a partial view of Miners Falls.

However, going 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.

Miners_Falls_039_09292015 - Looking down at a partial view of Miners Falls from the lookout at the end of the trail (not taking the step down)
Looking down at a partial view of Miners Falls from the lookout at the end of the trail (not taking the step down)

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.

Miners_Falls_020_09292015 - Julie and Tahia taking the steps down to the main lookout in front of the Miners Falls
Julie and Tahia taking the steps down to the main lookout in front of the Miners Falls

We didn’t do as the younger folks did, but it didn’t seem that difficult nor excessively risky to do so.

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.

Authorities

Miners Falls resides in the Pictured Rocks National Seashore near Munising in Alger County, Michigan. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Miners_Falls_017_09292015 - There were some strategically-placed rest benches along the 0.6-mile trail to Miners Falls
Miners_Falls_031_09292015 - This was view of the Miners Falls from the end of the steps that descended just before the end of the wide Miners Falls Trail
Miners_Falls_025_09292015 - Below the lookout deck for Miners Falls, it appeared that the stairs used to keep going all the way down to the bottom
Miners_Falls_041_09292015 - Julie and Tahia hiking back towards the Miners Falls trailhead but enjoying the nice forest walk in the mean time
Miners_Falls_043_09292015 - Tahia was busy hunting for the numbered posts along the Miners Falls Trail, which seemed to keep her quite occupied on the return hike

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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.

Miners_Falls_003_09292015 - The limited trailhead parking for Miners Falls, which filled up very fast when we made our visit
The limited trailhead parking for Miners Falls, which filled up very fast when we made our visit

We then drove the remaining mile on the unpaved road to its dead-end at the Miners Falls trailhead parking.

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 I would park the car without blocking traffic.

Miners_Castle_001_09292015 - By the way, had we driven all the way to the end of the Miners Castle Road, we would end up at this parking lot, where a short walk would lead us to the overlooks of Miners Castle, Lake Superior, and a taste of what the Pictured Rocks are like
By the way, had we driven all the way to the end of the Miners Castle Road, we would end up at this parking lot, where a short walk would lead us to the overlooks of Miners Castle, Lake Superior, and a taste of what the Pictured Rocks are like

For reference, the town of Munising was about 100 miles (2 hours) west of Paradise, Michigan, and 44 miles (under 1 hour) east of Marquette, Michigan.

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.

short sweep showing the former path to the very bottom of the falls as well as the falls itself as seen from the official lookout

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Tagged with: munising, pictured rocks, national lakeshore, alger county, marquette, michigan, waterfall, lake superior, upper peninsula, up, great lakes, miners castle



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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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