Tahquamenon Falls State Park has a lot to offer— hiking trails, inland lakes for boating and fishing, five campgrounds, snow sports in the winter, a brew pub, interpretive programs, and 20,000 acres of natural beauty. The centerpiece of Michigan’s second largest state park, though, is the Tahquamenon River with its waterfalls. The Upper Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi has a drop of nearly 50 feet, is more than 200 feet across, and in the spring, the water flows at more than 50,000 gallons per second. The velocity is completely dependent on the amount of precipitation received within the 800-square-mile watershed.
Pronounced tuh-qwa-meh-non (rhymes with phenomenon), Tahquamenon Falls is also called “Rootbeer Falls” because of its amber color, caused by tannins from cedar swamps that drain into the river. The golden hue is most noticeable during the summer. A paved quarter-mile walkway leads from a very large parking lot to the Upper Falls. Then it’s 94 steps down (and back up again), but the view is worth it. The paved path meanders through a hardwood forest of sugar maple, beech, and hemlock trees. You’ll likely see chipmunks, red squirrels, and white-tailed deer, not to mention black-capped chickadees, owls, woodpeckers and many other birds. For a longer hike, continue four miles downstream to Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island.
Although most of the 500,000 annual visitors come here in the summer, Upper Falls is open year-round and can be just as pretty in the winter when frozen, or partially so. Depending on the light, it can be pretty shades of blue and green. If you’re in need of sustenance and souvenirs, enjoy the family-owned Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and gift shop after your hike.
IF YOU GO:
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
41382 West M-123
Paradise, Michigan 49768
Phone: (906) 492-3415
There are five campgrounds in the park with a total of 350 campsites. For a list of campgrounds, visit http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?type=SPRK&id=428
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com