Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Black River National Scenic Byway: Potawatomi and Gorge Falls

This is a continuation of a travel series of a camping trip I took with my family back in July.  If you missed previous posts, you can catch up HERE and HERE.

On the third day of our camping trip we drove to the Upper Peninsula to see waterfalls in the Ottawa National Forest. On this day, we drove The Black River National Scenic Byway to see five waterfalls plus Lake Superior.  To keep my posts from getting too long and photo heavy, yet also to cover each fall thoroughly, I am going to cover each stop along the byway separately.

The Ottawa National Forest is a National Forest that covers 993,010 acres in the Upper Peninsula of the U.S. State of Michigan.  That's a lot of land, and a whole lot of trees!  When we first got to the forest and parked our car in the parking lot for the Potawatomi and Gorge Falls we were facing the woods and as I looked at the deep density of the forest I said to my family "That looks like mosquito hell".  Everyone laughed, because all week we had been experiencing mosquitos from hell, and now it looked like we were headed right into a thicket filled with them.

So after lathering and bathing in "Deep Woods Off",  we headed onto the trail and hiked deep into the woods.  Even though it was the week of the 4th of July, there were hardly any people here.  We felt we had all 993,010 acres all to ourselves.  Which made me nervous. I feel safer with people around.  These woods looked like something out of "Lord of the Rings" movie.  They were so filled with....trees!  In fact, I saw nothing but trees, everywhere I looked.  The thickness of the trees was nothing I had ever experienced before in all my travels.  And everything was so lush and green because of the mammoth amount of rainfall we received this year.  And yes, the mosquitoes were terrible as expected.  Even though they wouldn't land on us because of the "Deep Woods Off", they were still constantly buzzing around our heads and bodies desperately trying to find a place to land.

I was so nervous we would encounter a black bear hiking in these deep woods, that I insisted we hike as a group and talk constantly to keep the bears at bay.  This irritated my husband to no end, for he really enjoys the peace and solitude of the woods and actually was hoping to see a black bear;  so he slowed his pace, and backed off from the rest of the party.  And in case your wondering, no, we never saw a black bear or any other animal for that matter, just a lot of mosquitoes.

Now after two days of hiking in the woods, my family was getting a little sore from walking, so the real beauty of this day was that just about every water fall was only a short hike from our car.  There is basically a road called "Black River Road" (also called The Black River National Scenic Byway) and you drive on this road and pull off and park in designated parking lots of waterfall trails.  All the trails are super short and easy (though there are a few with strenuous steps).  There are five falls to see on this road and you can easily see them all in one day.  The road ends at the shores of Lake Superior where you can cross a beautiful suspension bridge and enjoy the beach and have a picnic lunch!

Potawatomi Falls is one of the areas most beautiful waterfalls.  It has a twenty foot drop and an eight foot span.  It consists of a spit drop over a dome of conglomerate rock that creates two curving waterfalls.

All the trails in this area are extremely well-maintained, easy to follow, and several have nice viewing areas so you can get really close to the falls.

 There is even a nice asphalt path that connects Potawatomi Falls to the Gorge Falls, and also on this path is the cutest little restroom I have ever seen!

Although Potawatomi Falls and Gorge Falls are only an 1/8 mile apart, the hike down (and back up) can be strenuous for some.  There are very nice stairs with rails to aid you to the viewing deck, plus a few benches to stop and rest along the way.

Gorge Falls is named for the deep and narrow gorge above and below the falls.  It's height is twenty five feet and it's crest is ten feet.

This was one of my favorite falls.  I loved the deep dark color of the rock and seeing all the lush green foliage on the sides of the gorge.

I loved the rich brown color of the water.

After visiting these two falls, we all agreed we were hungry for lunch before we wanted to start hiking more trails to see the last three falls.  So since Black River Road is actually a dead end road that ends at Lake Superior, we decided to drive there next to have our picnic lunch, see the beach, and then hit the rest of the falls on the way out of the forest.  But that is for next week's travel post!  See you then!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE and Travel Tuesday!


  1. Superb shots Amy ! fabulous landscapes ! xx

  2. Wow the shots are amazing!!!

    I’m pretty excited with this outfit I am wearing from my favorite Los Angeles brand TOBI – come on over at the blog & find out why! #shopTobi

    Happy Wednesday!!


  3. I love that thick forest, can't believe there weren't more people hiking! Really nice photos!

    1. Thanks Elli, I was surprised there weren't more people myself. But it is way up the middle of nowhere!

  4. Thanks for sharing this amazing trip! My family and I love scouting out places like this. This is now on the list. :)

    1. Thanks Kathrine, I'm sure you and your family will love it. We certainly did.

  5. Looks like a really pretty trip! Gorgeous scenery!

  6. Another great series of photos from this lovely place, Amy!
    Thanks for joining us at the Travel Tuesday meme, I look forward to your next contribution.

    1. Thanks Nick! I will be linking up a new post tomorrow!

  7. I love camping! All of these pictures are so gorgeous! I love the waterfall!



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