Paradise, MI

The Falls Aren't the Only Attraction at Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tracy Stengel

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The show-stopping Upper Falls.Attila Nagy/Upsplash

Tahquamenon Falls is one of my favorite places in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, with the Upper Falls being the largest waterfall in Michigan and the cluster of five waterfalls comprising the Lower Falls being some of the loveliest. Yet of the thousands of visitors viewing the falls throughout the year, most treat this area as a hit-and-run.

Sure, everyone snaps a few obligatory pictures, does a lot of oohing and aahing … and then they leave.

Hold up! Don’t be in such a hurry.

The Upper Peninsula is a wondrous place to explore, and Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a great place to start. The fact it’s located in Paradise, Michigan is no surprise. It is Michigan’s second largest state park, boasting 48,000 acres (the first is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park with about 60,000 acres.) The Tahquamenon Falls feed into the Tahquamenon River, but the park is home to 13 inland lakes and almost 40 miles of trails. Many people only think about the 4-mile trail between the Upper and Lower Falls, but there are many more.

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The tranquil Lower Falls.Attila Nagy/Upsplash

The famous North Country Trail, for instance, is part of a 4,600-mile train that goes through seven states and passes east to west through the Upper Peninsula. It winds 16 miles through the Tahquamenon Fall State Park and bicyclists are welcome to enjoy this moderate to difficult trail.

There are rowboat rentals available at the park concession and there is also a boat launch. You can take your vessel right up to the Lower Falls and reach out and touch them! Anglers should check out the area just about the Lower Falls. The DNR stock yearling brown trout every year at the Upper Falls. The DNR says fish are reported to be 12 to 15 inches in this oft-neglected spot!

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Rowboat rentals at TFSP.Photo via Tahquamenon Falls State Park Facebook page.

If you are viewing the falls from land, you can head down Clark Lake Road by foot, vehicle, or bicycle to the hiking trail to Clark Lake. This lake is tucked away and bordered by ancient sand dunes. It’s an ideal place to have a picnic, see some wildlife, and get away from the crowd.

While summer is a popular time to visit the park, every season has its own beauty and things to do. In the fall, people come as the foliage changes for a spectacular color tour and sportsmen are able to hunt the abundant wildlife. In the winter, the ice formations around the falls can be breathtaking. Snowmobilers, cross country skiers, and snowshoers enjoy the vast number of maintained trails available. Spring is a great time to see the protected state wildflower, trillium, and forage for morel mushrooms.

Tahquamenon State Park is an ideal place to hone your photography skills year-round.

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An amazing ice formation.Photo via Tahquamenon Falls State Park Facebook page.

If you’d like to visit Tahquamenon Falls in a unique and memorable way, consider taking the Train and Riverboat Tour provided by Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tours & the Famous Toonerville Trolley. Beginning at Soo Junction, Michigan, you can take a 35-minute train (trolley) ride, then board the Hiawatha, a two-hour riverboat cruise. 

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The Hiawatha riverboat.Photo via the Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tours Facebook page.

The captain will point out interesting plant and animal life and give the logging and Native American history of the area. There is a cash-bar and on-board grill where you can get a sandwich or snack. When the Hiawatha reaches the rapids above the falls, it will dock. Passengers will have an hour and fifteen minutes to hike 5/8 mile and view the Upper Falls from the Train and Riverboat Tour’s own private viewing area. Then, the riverboat and train retrace their route back to Soo Junction.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise, Michigan is truly a nature lover’s utopia. Some of the animals living in the park are wolves, otters, coyotes, deer, porcupine, beavers, bear, and mink. There are a multitude of ducks and birds including the Bald Eagle and Pileated Woodpecker.

Let me know your favorite thing to do in Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the comments!

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI
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