Waterfalls of the Black River

The Black River Scenic Byway is located in the western corner of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Dedicated in 1992 as a National Forest Scenic Byway, it starts just north of Bessemer Michigan and ends at the Black River Harbor in the Ottawa National Forest, following the Black River on its way towards Lake Superior.

Along the way it passes five main waterfalls, as well as some minor ones. The five main waterfalls are all located on the last three miles of the river before it reaches Lake Superior. There is a parking area for each of the falls. The first is Great Conglomerate Falls.

The next two, Gorge Falls and Potawatomi Falls can be reached from the same scenic site. These are the two most impressive of the falls, and are also the closest to the parking area. Each of the other falls requires a walk of at least 1/4 mile.

A half mile beyond Gorge Falls is Sandstone Falls, and another half mile beyond that is the lovely Rainbow Falls. Across from the Rainbow Falls scenic site is a very nice, lightly used campground. It is a nice place to set up base while exploring the area.

The North Country Trail also follows the Black River. Coming west from Porcupine Mountains State Park, it reaches the Black River at Sandstone Falls and heads north, passing Rainbow Falls. You get the best views of Rainbow Falls from the North Country Trail. Near the river mouth there is a suspension bridge that takes you over to the west side. The NCT then follows the river south, and in some places is actually located on the side of the road.

North of Ramsay about 15 miles upstream of Great Conglomerate Falls the Black River also tumbles over the very impressive Gabbro Falls.

There are other waterfalls and rapids in the area. Chippewa Falls and Algonquin Falls are two rapids upstream of Great Conglomerate Falls. Manakik (Maple Creek) Falls is west of Gorge Falls. Powderhorn Falls can be found near the south end of the byway.

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Last Modified: Sunday, 05-Jun-2011 20:57:58 MDT.