Munising Falls

Munising / Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, USA

About Munising Falls


Hiking Distance: 1/3 mile round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

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

Waterfall Latitude: 46.42281
Waterfall Longitude: -86.62162

Munising Falls was one of the more convenient waterfalls that we had visited while staying in the town of Munising (pronounced “MEW-ni-sing”).

This wispy plunging 50ft falls turned out to be one of several waterfalls found in the Pictured Rocks National Seashore.

Munising_Falls_027_09292015 - Munising Falls
Munising Falls

Speaking of which, visiting this waterfall (and others around Munising) was really our excuse to pass the time while awaiting our opportunity to visit the famed Pictured Rocks by boat.

I had read that the waterfall would see its greatest flow in the late Spring and early Summer months (when the creeks and streams would have benefitted from the thaw of snow and/or ice given the harsh Winters here).

During our visit in late September 2015, the falls had seemingly lighter than average flow, but it still had enough flow to yield a pleasant experience as you can see from the picture above.

Experiencing Munising Falls

Access to the Munising Falls was only a few minutes drive from where we were staying (see directions below).

Munising_Falls_008_09292015 - The short but pleasant forest path that is wheelchair-accessible on the way to the main lookout for Munising Falls
The short but pleasant forest path that is wheelchair-accessible on the way to the main lookout for Munising Falls

The parking lot was right across the street from the local Munising Hospital.

From the parking lot, the hike to the main lookout (yielding the view you see above) was only a mere 800ft on a well-developed and flat trail.

We probably only needed five minutes to walk in each direction.

Closed Off Access Around Munising Falls

During the short walk, we had encountered a pair of spur trails branching off the main path and boardwalk.

The first branch that we encountered on our right (roughly at the half-way point of the main trail) went up some stairs before becoming a boardwalk hugging an interesting cliff ledge.

Munising_Falls_038_09292015 - The trail that climbed up the right side of the Munising Falls Trail huggged striated cliffs hinting at the geology of the Pictured Rocks
The trail that climbed up the right side of the Munising Falls Trail huggged striated cliffs hinting at the geology of the Pictured Rocks

Such a ledge hinted at the geologic forces at play that gave rise to the Munising Falls (let alone the cliffs comprising the Pictured Rocks).

At the end of this spur path was a signposted dead-end with a somewhat satisfying angled view of Munising Falls.

It looked like the barricade erected at the dead-end was a relatively new development as it appeared that the trail used to continue to the backside of the falls.

The deep recession or cove behind the falls suggested to us that it was an old waterfall.

Of course, it was also the main reason why part of the drop of the falls was completely airborn thereby resulting in its somewhat wispy appearance.

Munising_Falls_041_09292015 - The abrupt dead-end at the end of the spur trail that was once a loop hike that went behind the Munising Falls
The abrupt dead-end at the end of the spur trail that was once a loop hike that went behind the Munising Falls

The second spur trail was just before the main overlook at the end of 800ft from the trailhead.

This branch went up some stairs to the left, which quickly led up to another signposted dead-end with a very unsatisfactory and obstructed view of Munising Falls from the opposite side.

Again, the barricade forming the dead-end seemed to be new, and it also used to lead to the big alcove behind the falls.

The authorities must’ve really not wanted people to go behind the waterfall for safety and/or liability reasons, I’m sure.

Munising_Falls_032_09292015 - Julie and Tahia enjoying the main lookout in front of Munising Falls
Julie and Tahia enjoying the main lookout in front of Munising Falls

That said, I’d imagine that before it was forbidden to go behind the Munising Falls, the ideal hiking route would have been a counterclockwise loop.

It would have involved going up the first branch on the right, then going behind the falls, and finally completing loop by descending towards the main lookout before returning to the trailhead.

Nevertheless, we spent about 40 minutes away from the car to take it all in legally (i.e. we did not go behind Munising Falls).

Authorities

Munising 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.

Munising_Falls_010_09292015 - Near the half-way point of the short walk to Munising Falls, we could see that the path was well-shaded, and it even crossed the creek at this bridge
Munising_Falls_016_09292015 - Looking right up at the Munising Falls from the main lookout
Munising_Falls_019_09292015 - More contextual portrait look at the pretty Munising Falls
Munising_Falls_021_09292015 - Broad view between the trees at the attractive Munising Falls from the main lookout
Munising_Falls_026_09292015 - Julie at the main lookout checking out Munising Falls
Munising_Falls_039_09292015 - The upper walkway going past this interesting alcove on the way to the dead-end (which used to be part of a loop trail going behind the Munising Falls)
Munising_Falls_049_09292015 - Nice angled view of Munising Falls from the end of the longer of the upper walkways that abruptly ended and stopped short of going behind the falls

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Munising Falls was pretty much within the town of Munising, Michigan on the South-Central shores of Lake Superior.

From downtown Munising, we drove towards the east end of town, where we then kept straight to go onto East Munising Ave to avoid staying on the Michigan Hwy 28 (which would’ve been a right turn onto Cedar St).

Note that the National Parks visitor center was on the street corner of this intersection of East Munising Ave and Cedar St.

Continuing east on East Munising Ave for 1.3 miles beyond the National Park visitor center, we then followed a sign leading us to Munising Falls on the left (before East Munising Ave / H-58 started climbing in earnest).

Turning left onto Washington St, we then followed this unassuming residential street for 0.5 miles to Sand Point Rd on the right.

Munising_Falls_002_09292015 - Looking across the handicapped parking spaces at the trailhead for Munising Falls
Looking across the handicapped parking spaces at the trailhead for Munising Falls

Shortly after turning right onto Sand Point Rd, the Munising Falls parking lot was immediately on our right.

It turned out that this car park was right across from the Munising Memorial Hospital.

Overall, this drive took us about 10 minutes.

For context, Munising was 43 miles (under an hour drive) east of Marquette. 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.

Movie showing an angled view of the falls from one of the upper overlooks before walking all the way to the main overlook right in front of the falls itself

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



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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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