Superior Falls

Hurley / Ironwood, Wisconsin / Michigan, USA

About Superior Falls

Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time: 15 minutes

Date first visited: 2015-09-28
Date last visited: 2015-09-28

Waterfall Latitude: 46.56253
Waterfall Longitude: -90.41532

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Superior Falls was a rare interstate waterfall as it was shared between the states of Wisconsin and Michigan.

It flowed on the Montreal River, which defined the border between the states near the southern shores of Lake Superior.

Superior_Falls_007_09282015 - Superior Falls
Superior Falls

This turned out to be one of the easiest waterfalls for us to visit during our Great Lakes Trip in Autumn 2015 because it was barely a couple minutes walk from the trailhead to the view you see pictured above.

That said, we did notice trails going in opposite directions leading to the bottom and the top of the gorge so there was the option of extending a visit here.

In any case, the main drop of the Superior Falls was said to be 60ft tall.

Apparently, there were more tiers, but we didn’t do them so we can’t comment on them more.

The trails and lookouts were all on the Michigan side, and it didn’t seem like the Wisconsin side was accessible.

An Exercise in Compromise

When we first arrived at the trailhead (see directions below), we saw right away that there was hydroelectric infrastructure.

Superior_Falls_015_09282015 - Julie and Tahia checking out Superior Falls from the sanctioned overlook
Julie and Tahia checking out Superior Falls from the sanctioned overlook

That kind of dampened any desires that we had of extending the excursion beyond witnessing the main waterfall.

After all, we were less inclined to stick around when the main attraction was more or less adversely impacted.

That said, the power company running the hydro infrastructure here was said to be required to maintain a minimum flow rate of about 20 cubic feet per second.

Therefore, when we saw Superior Falls, it seemed to have decent flow.

I guess without this requirement, this waterfall could very well have disappeared completely (like so many other waterfalls sacrificed in the name of dams).

Thus, this was another one of those exercises in compromise between economic development and a healthy environment.


Superior Falls resides near Hurley and Ironwood in Iron County, Wisconsin and Gogebic County, Michigan, respectively. The hydro station is administered by Xcel Energy. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Superior_Falls_003_09282015 - Signs indicating that we could go to the right towards the bottom of the series of waterfalls comprising Superior Falls or to the left towards the top of the same series of waterfalls
Superior_Falls_025_09282015 - Broad view of the Superior Falls from the overlook in long exposure

We visited Superior Falls as one of a handful of stops during the long drive between Duluth, Minnesota and Paulding, Michigan.

The nearest town of any significant size was the dual towns of Hurley, Wisconsin and Ironwood, Michigan (separated by the Montreal River).

From Ironwood, we would have to drive west on the Highway 2 for about 12 miles to the Hwy 122.

Then, we would have to turn right to go north on Hwy 122 for about the next 5 miles, which would eventually cross back into Michigan.

Superior_Falls_001_09282015 - Parking at the Superior Falls near some hydroelectric infrastructure on the Michigan side of the Montreal River
Parking at the Superior Falls near some hydroelectric infrastructure on the Michigan side of the Montreal River

A signed turnoff for Superior Falls would be on the left, which then took us on a short unpaved road leading to a large clearing, which was the parking area for the Superior Falls.

This drive took us around 25 minutes, but since our clocks were on Central Time, we actually lost an additional hour since Michigan observed Eastern Time.

Coming from the other direction in Ashland, Wisconsin, we would drive east on the Hwy 2 for 22 miles to the Hwy 122.

We would then turn left to go north onto Hwy 122 and follow the directions as above.

For geographical context, Hurley, Wisconsin was 146 miles (under 3 hours drive) west of Marquette, Michigan, 225 miles (over 4 hours drive) northeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota, 263 miles (about 4.5 hours drive) north of Madison, Wisconsin, and 403 miles (about 6.5 hours drive) northwest of Chicago, Illinois.

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Showing the lookout area as well as the waterfall itself

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Tagged with: hurley, iron county, wisconsin, ironwood, gogebic county, michigan, waterfall, great lakes, lake superior, montreal river, hydroelectric, great lakes

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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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