About Munising Falls
Munising Falls was one of the more convenient waterfalls that we had visited while staying in the town of Munising (pronounced “MEW-ni-sing”). 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 water. Access to the falls was only a few minutes drive from where we were staying (see directions below), and the hike to the main lookout of the falls (yielding the view you see in the photo at the top of this page) was only 800ft on a well-developed and flat trail (less than five minutes walk in each direction). On our visit, this waterfall had a tall plunge where the falls wasn’t even making contact with any surface for most of its overall drop until it struck a slope at its base to comprise rest of its overall height, which was said to be 50ft tall.
During the short walk, we had encountered a pair of spur trails branching off the main path and boardwalk. The first one 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 hinting at the geologic forces at play that gave rise to the 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.
The second spur trail was just before the main overlook at the end of 800ft from the trailhead. This one 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 led 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. That said, I’d imagine that before it was verboten (i.e. forbidden) to go behind the falls, the ideal route for visiting this falls would have been to take the upper trail on the right, then go behind the falls, and finally enjoy the front of the falls from the main lookout before completing the lollipop loop by hiking back to the car park. We spent about 40 minutes away from the car to take it all in legally.
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 was still pretty nice as you can see from the photos here.
Munising Falls was pretty much within the town of Munising, Michigan on the South-Central shores of Lake Superior. From downtown Munising, we east 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. Shortly after turning right onto Sand Point Rd, the Munising Falls car park 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.
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