Tahquamenon Falls State Park is situated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, approximately 80 miles north of Mackinaw City. The park is just ten miles away from the shore of Lake Superior and boasts one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, the Upper Tahquamenon Falls, at a massive 200 feet wide. Hikers can enjoy 35 miles of trails that lead through dense forests, past gorgeous waterfalls, and stunning rivers and lakes. Here’s a three-day itinerary that’s perfect for any weekend getaway. Please reach out with ay questions!
A recreation passport is required.
Michigan residents: $13/year
A resident recreation pass can not be purchased online.
Non-resident: $39/year or $11/day
To purchase a non-resident recreation pass click here- Recreation Pass.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park has two campgrounds- Lower Falls and Rivermouth. Both have electric and primitive sites. The park also has a two-bedroom camper cabin and a three-bedroom lodge available to reserve. Backcountry and group camping are available as well. All reservations can be made here- Tahquamenon Falls State Park Camping. We have stayed at the Rivermouth campground and would absolutely recommend😊
Tahquamenon Falls Café is located next to the gift shop at Lower Falls. Menus and hours can be found here- Tahquamenon Falls Café. There is also a privately owned restaurant immediately next to the Upper Falls parking lot- Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub.
For more dining options, check out Paradise, MI. Personal recommendations- The Berry Patch Bakery & Restaurant and The Inn Gastropub & Smokehouse.
Must Know Before You Go:
- Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has so much wildlife, including bears, moose, and wolves. Please review bear safety before heading out. Remember to travel in groups, make noise, and carry bear spray on all hikes.
- A shuttle service runs between Upper and Lower Falls. More information on the shuttle service can be found here- Jordans Shuttle Service.
- Print or grab a map before heading out on any trail. Several trails have limited signs with several splits.
- Clark Lake Road is a mile-long dirt road with a small parking area at the end. It’s the most direct route to the Clark Lake Loop. However, the road is not ideal for low-clearance vehicles and is not plowed during the winter. If your car cannot make the trek, park at Lower Falls and hike the road in.
- As always, please follow the Leave No Trace principles.
Limited, even on the main roads and in the campgrounds.
3 Day Itinerary
Giant Pines Loop-
The Giant Pines Loop will take you past a stunning waterfall and two 185-year-old massive white pine trees over 120 feet tall. This 3.8-mile trail begins at the Upper Falls Parking Lot. There are many splits in the trail. To ensure you continue on the right path, follow the trail waypoints in this order: 1-2-9-10-11.
From the parking lot, take the main path towards Upper Falls. At the trail split, head towards the “Falls Brink Viewing Areas.” Just after you pass the steps down towards the falls, continue straight towards waypoint 2 to continue the Giant Pines Loop. When you come to the stables area, head across the main road. It is difficult to see the narrow path on the other side of the road but trust me; it’s there! It will widen quickly as you make your way through the trees. The path will drop you off on the other side of the Upper Falls lot.
Before you head out, be sure to check out the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub. It’s a great place to grab dinner and drinks😊 There is also a gift shop and often live music on the patio.
Lower Falls/ River Trail/Upper Falls-
To hike both Upper Falls, Lowers Falls, the Island Trail, and the River Trail is 10.7 miles roundtrip with approximately 600 ft of elevation gain. However, if you do not want to hike the entire 10.7 miles. There is a shuttle that runs between the Upper and Lower Falls lots. Taking the shuttle will shorten your trip by 4 miles, and either lot has a well-labeled pick-up spot. Shuttle times and fees can be found here- Jordans Shuttle Service.
For this trail, you can start at either falls area. I would recommend starting at Lower Falls because finding a spot in that lot was slightly more manageable.
Begin by hiking the 0.5 miles to Lower Falls from the parking lot and then the quick 0.5-mile Island Trail Loop before jumping on the River Trail. Don’t skip the Island Trail. It truly is one of the most beautiful areas in the park😊
After checking out the lovely Island Trail, take a left onto the River Trail just across the metal bridge. The River Trail is 4 miles, one way, with many gorgeous views- especially in the fall! The trail is easy to follow and moderate to strenuous in difficulty. There are many ups and downs, some rocky and uneven terrain, and almost always some muddy areas, so you will want proper footwear!
The River Trail will drop you off before the stairs to the Gorge View of Upper Falls. There are 181 stairs down to the gorge viewpoint. Be careful on the boardwalk at the bottom. It can get quite slick!
After checking out the gorge view, head back up the stairs and continue the path to the Falls Brink viewing area. Once you reach the next set of stairs, there are 94 steps down to the brink viewpoint, which is the very best view in the park. After enjoying the incredible falls, head back to the River Trail or go to the Upper Falls lot to catch the shuttle back to the Lower Falls lot.
Clark Lake Loop-
This is a peaceful trail that winds through tall forests and offers breathtaking views of the lake. You might even get a chance to spot a moose or bear. The Clark Lake Loop spans 5.1 miles in total and has an elevation gain of approximately 100 feet.
The loop begins at the lot at the end of Clark Lake Road. It is a small lot, but we only saw 2 or 3 groups of people for the entire 5 miles. As I said before, Clark Lake Road is a mile-long dirt road. It is the most direct route to the Clark Lake Loop. However, the road is not ideal for low-clearance vehicles and is not plowed during winter. If your car cannot make the trek, park at Lower Falls and hike the road to the trailhead. It will add just over 2 miles roundtrip to your hike.
Optional Add-on: If you want a longer hike, connect the Clark Lake Loop with the Wilderness Loop for an additional 6 miles and 400+ ft of elevation gain.
Whitefish Point/Shipwreck Museum-
The final destination in Paradise, MI, is Whitefish Point. The first thing to do at Whitefish Point is to explore the Shipwreck Museum, which has an entrance fee. You can explore the museum and all the surrounding buildings. Our kids absolutely loved this stop and enjoyed learning about how lighthouses work and the history of Lake Superior. Did you know that there are over 200 shipwrecks located just off the shore of Whitefish Point? I certainly did not. It was all very fascinating. You can find the hours of operation and prices here- Shipwreck Museum.
*I recommend allocating at least an hour to visit all the buildings on the premises. Although the tickets are expensive, they are worth it if you have enough time to explore. It’s important to note that no one is allowed inside any building 10 minutes before closing time – even if the building could be explored in less than 10 minutes. *
After checking out the museum, head down the walkway to the beautiful beach. It is an excellent way to end your trip to Paradise and Tahquamenon Falls State Park😊
Hope you have an incredible adventure!
Looking for another Midwest waterfall adventure? Check out our Hocking Hills State Park Itinerary!
Also, check out our hiking gear and apparel below!