Encompassing close to 50,000 acres and stretching over thirteen miles, the majestic Tahquamenon Falls State Park is home to the Upper and Lower Tahquamenon Falls. Special in many ways, the Upper Tahquamenon Falls is the second-largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, with Niagara Falls being the largest. The beauty of this area is a must-see when you are making your Upper Peninsula travel plans.
Within the State Park, you can fill your day birding, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing, camping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, depending on what season it is. Wildlife abounds throughout the Tahquamenon Falls, and, by chance, you may see black bear, whitetail deer or moose.
Experience one of the United States’ most breathtaking waterfalls! Set within a pristine wilderness, the Upper Tahquamenon Falls is over 200 feet wide and 48 feet high. Over 50,000 gallons of water rush over this incredible waterfall per second. Seasonal precipitation can increase or decrease this amount significantly with springtime being a great time to see it at its peak. A magnificent walking path will direct your way through the forest within the Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
As you get closer to the viewing decks, you can hear the growing sound of water flowing and falling. It is truly an awe-inspiring experience for all ages. Please note that there are 94 steps down to the main viewing deck at the end of the walkway. On the platform below, there is a bench to sit and rest on while taking in the beauty of the falls.
Located four miles downstream from the Upper Falls, the Lower Tahquamenon Falls consist of many small waterfalls that cascade around an island. There are rowboat rentals available at the Lower Tahquamenon Falls along with a seasonal concession stand, ice cream shop and souvenir shop. Many visitors come here to wade in the water and photograph the small falls. Tahquamenon Falls State Park has installed a Lower Falls bridge and boardwalk which will open to the public in Spring 2022. This will help visitors with mobility challenges and people pushing strollers to access the Lower Falls up close without going into the water.
The park is not only a popular destination for sightseeing waterfalls, but to get in some recreation too! Make time for the following activities during your visit:
Hiking is the most popular activity in the park. Closed-toe shoes, water and snacks are recommended. Some trails are long, so please bring adequate supplies. Leashed dogs are welcome on these State Park hiking trails, too. Call (906) 492-3415 for trail maps and additional information. Here are some of the trails you can explore!
The River Trail parallels the Tahquamenon River between the Upper and Lower Falls, traversing through old-growth forest, giant cedars and hemlocks, and beautiful wild flowers. Exposed roots, hilly terrain and several staircases make this trail difficult. The River Trail travels along the Tahquamenon River and is considered the most scenic trail in the park. Hikers can park their vehicle at the Lower Falls and take a shuttle to the trailhead at the Upper Falls. Shuttles run seasonally, so please call in advance or visit their website before your visit.
This trail is accessed from Clark Lake road, 11 miles southwest of Paradise. Complete the hike to Clark Lake, a nice spot for a picnic or snack on the bordering ancient sand dunes.
Located near the Rivermouth Campground on the Tahquamenon River, the last 200-foot section of the trail leading to Whitefish Bay remains incomplete, and is difficult, but possible to navigate. For birding enthusiasts, the trailhead presents opportunities to hear songbirds.
This loop offers hikers the sights and sounds of ancient hemlocks, bubbling streams, and the occasional active woodpecker. The highlights of the trail are two giant white pine trees left over from the late 1800s logging era.
Carpeted with ferns during the summer months, this trail offers hikers an alternative route on their journey from the Upper Tahquamenon Falls to the parking lot. Birding enthusiasts have reported many sightings on this trail during the spring. Strollers and wheelchairs are welcome.
Hikers are led through the most remote areas of the park among old hemlock forests and peatland areas. The trail features a beaver pond and dam on the loop’s eastern portion. As ferns grow taller in mid-summer, the trail becomes increasingly difficult to follow. It is recommended for advanced hikers only.
Each spring and fall, migrating birds fly through Whitefish Point on their way to and from Canada. On their journey, they pass through Tahquamenon Falls State Park, making it a unique birding location. Here is what you can expect when birding at the Upper and Lower Falls.
The Upper Tahquamenon Falls area offers a glimpse of Michigan's pre-settlement forests. This American beech, sugar maple, eastern hemlock and yellow birch old-growth forest encompasses 1,500 acres. In summer, songs of the winter wren, black-throated blue warbler, black-throated green warbler, blackburnian warbler, least flycatcher, rose-breasted grosbeak, red-eyed vireo, wood thrush, and veery fill the dense forest. This forest is also home to barred and Saw-whet owls, northern goshawk, yellow-bellied sapsicker, pileated woodpecker, brown creeper, red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches, chimney swift, scarlet tanager and Swainson's thrush, just to name a few.
The Lower Falls area offers a variety of birding opportunities. Along the Mainland Trail, a ¾-mile boardwalk through a narrow conifer lowland, river's edge songbirds mingle with hardwood dwellers. Summer residents include American redstart, northern waterthrush, mourning warbler, red-eyed vireo and scarlet tanager. Bald eagles fish the rapids below the falls early in the morning. In the evenings, common nighthawks swoop up emerging insects in mid-air. Other species common in and around the pool below the Lower Falls include the red-breasted and common mergansers, great blue heron, spotted sandpiper, belted kingfisher, osprey and northern rough-winged swallow.
Visit the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Camp 33 Gift Shop located within the State Park at the Upper Falls. Enjoy fine dining and micro-brewed beers from the north. Try their famous fresh Whitefish dinners, buffalo burgers, wild rice soup, mushroom pesto, pork tenderloin medallions, homemade pasties and more! Try one of their handcrafted beers: Falls Tannin, Porcupine Pale Ale or Lumberjack Lager. Camp 33 unique offerings include fine art, jewelry, clothing and souvenirs.
Any mobility-challenged visitors can rent a track chair to explore the park. These electric, off-road chairs are available on a first-come, first-reserved basis at no cost and can drive through snow, sand and up to 8 inches of water. To reserve a track chair, contact @TQFalls through Facebook Messenger or call the park office at (906) 492-3415.
The Tahquamenon River was made famous in the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, "The Song of Hiawatha." According to Indian lore, the origin of the name Tahquamenon is attributed to the water's amber color, which is the result of the leaching of tannic acid from the cedar and hemlock swamps that feed into the river. The water’s color has also lent itself to visitors referring to the landmark as the “Rootbeer Falls.”
Surrounded in old-growth forest, this special place was rich in Ojibwa Indian culture and fur trading and, later, played a major part in the days of Lumberjacks. The River was used in the logging industry to transport logs down to their destination.
The Tahquamenon Falls State Park has many year-round events to check out that all ages will enjoy including bird-watching groups, interpretive programs and their seasonal boat rental, just to name a few. These special events are both educational and exciting — perfect for memory-making. Plan your trip today!
The Upper Tahquamenon Falls are located at 46°34′29″N 85°15′23″W and the Lower Tahquamenon Falls are at 46°36′12″N 85°12′25″W.