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Explore the scenic Presque Isle River on this hike

At the western edge of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, you’ll find the picturesque Presque Isle River, home to three wide, scenic waterfalls—Nawadaha Falls, Manido and Manbezho Falls. It’s easy to walk along the river and explore this wonderful waterway—here’s where to go and what to see.

Where is the Presque Isle River located?

The Presque Isle River is located on the far western edge of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It’s the largest river flowing through the Porcupine Mountains and passes over three impressive cascades—dropping nearly 100 feet in the process—as it approaches Lake Superior.

How do I get to the Presque Isle River?

If you’re already in the state park, simply take the South Boundary Road west until you reach Presque Isle Road. Turn right on Presque Isle Road, where you’ll find access to a parking area for overnight hikers, a day-use picnic area and the Presque Isle Campground as you approach Lake Superior.

To get to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, follow M-64 from Ontonagon west and stay straight on M-107 to head into the park. South Boundary Road intersects with M-107 just past the Union River Big Bear Campground.

Presque Isle Road also connects with County Highway 519, which goes all the way south to Wakefield.

What is a good hiking route along the Presque Isle River?

There are actually two trails along the river—the West River Trail (1.1 miles) and the East River Trail (1.2 miles). Both offer outstanding views of the river, but the West River Trail features overlook platforms and long stretches of boardwalk and is considered the easier hike. You can access the trails from several spots (in fact, the trails also connect to the iconic North Country Trail in the park), but most users start their hike in the day-use picnic area.

From the parking area, hike toward the river and head right (south) along the river to follow the boardwalk and reach viewing platforms for Manabezho and Manido Falls. Nawadaha Falls can be found about a quarter-mile further south, with a viewing deck located near the ranger station. If you keep following the trail, you’ll reach South Boundary Road.

If you hike from the parking area and veer left (north toward Lake Superior), you’ll cross over an impressive suspension bridge that offers amazing upstream views of the river and downstream views of Lake Superior. The bridge connects to an island at the mouth of the river; keep following the trail, and you’ll reach the driftwood-strewn shores of Lake Superior. If you take the East River Trail south (turn right after the suspension bridge), you’ll be treated to more wonderful views as you explore the Presque Isle River gorge. Hiking on the East River Trail is slightly more challenging (there are no boardwalks here), but it offers similarly outstanding views, and you’ll pass through an impressive stand of old-growth pine if you take the trail all the way to South Boundary Road.

You can find a map and descriptions of trails in the state park here.

Where can I stay in the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County?

If you’re looking for a home base for your western U.P. adventures, the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County have several lodging properties that are ready to welcome you.

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Note: Please travel safely and responsibly when you are visiting the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County. Some businesses and facilities may have modified hours or procedures; please contact them directly for information. See Michigan’s latest coronavirus orders here.

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