Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tahquamenon Falls - The State Park Project

Our next stop, and the main goal of the trip, was Tahquamenon Falls. I hadn't been there in the winter and pictures I've seen of this time of year I wanted some pictures. Since I had planned on including it in my State Park Project, it seemed like a good idea. Tahquamenon Falls park encompasses 46,179 acres is the second largest State Park in Michigan, the largest being the Porcupine Mountains. It is located west of Paradise, Michigan near Lake Superior and Whitefish Bay. The Tahquamenon River flows 94 miles from it's source to where it empties into Whitefish Bay. Tahquamenon Falls consists of two different sets of falls, the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. When talking about the Falls, most people are speaking of the Upper Falls, which are what are pictured here. This is where the main park amenities are located. There are several vantage points scattered along the river from down the river to the lip of the falls.

Although I did not visit the Lower Falls or the Rivermouth area this trip, I will link to pages from previous visits at the end of this post.  For some reason, Blogger won't let me link to them anywhere else.

The Upper Falls from a vantage point downstream from the overlook, which is visible here, to the right of the rim.

There was a snow in the days before I visited and the trees were still covered with it.

The water is stained brown from the tannic acid that is picked up as it passes through the forests in the area.  The drop at the Upper Falls is about 50 feet and spans a width of about 200 feet.

The view from the rim overlook.  This cataract is one of the largest east of the Mississippi.

Large portions of the Falls freeze over during the winter.  I don't think there has been an extended period of freezing weather here so only a portion of them were covered.

Looking downriver from the falls.  Flow in the spring can reach 50,000 gallons per second.

There are many miles of trails at the State Park.  The Tahqua Trail runs from the Rivermouth Campground area to the Upper Falls.  That section of the trail is part of the North Country Scenic Trail which runs from New York to North Dakota.

One of the activities going on when we were there was an introduction to snow shoeing.  There was no cost for this activity.  Here a ranger was leading the group of participants.

In the background, you can see the building that is home to the gift shop and Camp 33.  Camp 33 is a brewery and restaurant.  The food there is pretty good, though I can't speak to the beer.  Prices are moderate.  The name is due to the fact that this was the location of the 33rd logging camp of the Barrett Logging Company.  The current structure was built in 1996.

Not counting group or back country sites, there are four campgrounds in the park.  Two are located at the lower falls and two at the Rivermouth location.  The two locations at the Lower Falls, and one at Rivermouth are modern campgrounds with running water, flush toilets and showers.  One of the campgrounds at Rivermouth is rustic, with pit toilets and no electricity, although there is one cabin for rent along the river.

The Lower Falls campground was mostly plowed out while we were there, but the campsites were pretty well snowed in.  The road to the falls was not plowed and given that I was already chilled and it was getting late, I didn't try to hike back to them.  That is unfortunate, because I imagine they would have been spectacular.

This bathhouse probably won't see any use until the spring melt. 

Snow blankets the trees.  The picnic tables were tipped on one end to help the snow slide off.

The other side of the Upper Falls can be reached by taking the Toonerville Trolley.  This involves catching a narrow gauge railroad at Soo Junction.  At the end of the rail line, you catch a boat that takes you down the Tahquamenon River where it docks upstream from the falls.  A short hike through the woods brings you to the vantage point here as well as one near the edge of the falls.  The entire trip takes about five and a half to six hours.

Because a large part of the park was inaccessible, without hiking through the snow, I will link pictures to the Lower Falls here.  They are a series of smaller cataracts.  You can get a nice view of them from the mainland, but the best way to get a look at them is to rent a rowboat and row to the island that splits the falls.  There, a path around the perimeter of the island gives you closeup views of the falls.  I'm not sure of the total drop of the Lower Falls, but if you find yourself in the area, you owe it to yourself to take some time to visit there. 

The River Mouth area was not plowed out.  The area here is some distance from the Falls and is pretty flat.  The campgrounds are to the west of M-123.  Upon entry, the modern campground is to the north and the rustic campground is to the south and is spread along the length of the river.  The river curves around a bit, before passing under M-123 where it empties into Whitefish Bay.  There is a small boat launch right at the mouth of the river and it is not uncommon to see boats from the campground. 

The NCT passes through this part of the park, along the road just north of the river until it moves away from the river and enters the woods.  You can pick it up at the Lower or Upper Falls.

I hope you enjoyed this look at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool write up about Tahquamenon Falls. I like your picture from the brink. shame that the gorge was closed because that is one of my favorite views of the Falls.