There’s an indescribable feeling that many know well and the rest don’t know they crave: hiking miles through thick forestry and finally hearing the sound of a waterfall as you approach it.
Whether you’re a hobby hiker or prefer short walks over steep climbs, there is a waterfall in northern Wisconsin that will fit your needs and fill your wanderlust. Here is everything you need to know about six of the best waterfalls in northern Wisconsin:
6. Potato River Falls
Location: Gurney, Wis.
Hike: Short walk, many stairs
Recreation: No swimming, no climbing
OVERALL RATING: 5/10
Coming in at number six, Potato River Falls offers a beautiful view at an interval energy hike. A short walk away from the forest’s trail head and parking lot, and down a lofty staircase, will bring you to a photo-op and fleeting view of the falls. This Hollywood-esque cascade, shadowed by tall greenery, clearly congests tourists as a popular destination.
Despite the busy foot traffic, however, the two upper-fall and one lower-fall viewing areas will seamlessly transport you to a family film from the early 2000s — picture Cheaper by the Dozen 2 or The Parent Trap.
5. Saxon Falls
Location: Saxon, Wis.
Hike: Five minutes
Bugs: Bring repellant (mosquitos)
Recreation: Swimming near hydro station
OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10
The heightened sight of the upper Saxon Falls is really no match to the powerhouse waterfall that it truly is. The rapids run from eyes’ east-to-west perception while the roaring river echos up the eroded cliffs. A tranquil hike bordering a wooded private property will leave you believing you’re on your way to a medieval cemetery in mountainous Ireland.
Don’t be fooled, though. Once you reach the metal fence, you’ve made it to the main viewing area — even though the trail seems to lead further.
Before your disappointment settles in, take the first left off of Saxon Falls Road on your drive out. Travel east up the river until you approach the Saxon Falls Hydro Generating Station (AKA the big man-made dam). Continue by foot past the orange signs that read: “DANGER. Waterfalls immediately ahead.” (Don’t worry, you won’t be trespassing nor in immediate danger.)
You’ll discover a completely empty and majestic riverbed. Without a trace of human visitation for miles, it feels as though you’ve just been plucked out of civilization and gently handed to forestry for care-taking. Bring your swimsuit and picnic basket for a secluded, romantic, unforgettable evening.
4. Lost Creek Falls
Location: Cornucopia, Wis.
Hike: 3 miles round trip (hiking/tennis shoes recommended)
Recreation: Swimming, hiking
OVERALL RATING: 8/10
Lost Creek Falls will have you feeling like a genuine explorer — khaki safari hat and all. Although the waterfall solicits the lengthiest, muddiest, and most unbalanced hike of the list, the stout gorge and inhabiting waterfall prove worthy of the journey.
At first glance, the water seems murky due to its bright rusty hue, but when you take a closer look, the water is clean and almost therapeutic. The stream rushes over 10 feet of caving red clay, which enables visitors to walk behind the falls and swim in nature’s spa. For the best swimming experience, explore after a heavy rainfall.
3. Morgan Falls
Location: Mellen, Wis.
Hike: 1.2 miles round trip
Bugs: Bring repellant (deer and horse flies)
Recreation: Swimming, climbing, hiking
Cost: $5 for parking
OVERALL RATING: 9/10
Morgan Falls’ smooth, flat trail-head details a picture-worthy walking bridge, a myriad of wildflowers and glittering streams. The sound of the waterfall peaks through the foliage about 0.5 miles into the hike, creating a fluttery excitement inside you.
The cascade falls into a freshwater lagoon, ideal for a quick dip-of-the-toes, while 20 feet of neighboring granite offer an entertaining climb. These remarkable features plus its pleasant vacancy names Morgan Falls the Neverland of the Midwest.
2. Big Manitou Falls
Location: Superior, Wis.
Recreation: Hiking (trails)
Cost: State park pass required
OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10
Big Manitou Falls rages a roaring 165-foot drop from a river-fed lake, making it the tallest waterfall in the state of Wisconsin.
This waterfall is a perfect road trip pit-stop, as it is easily accessible and minimal walking distance from the parking lot. Numerous overview spots give you the opportunity to see the falls from all upper angles, including a rare sighting of the waterfall’s crest.
The must-see Manitou ought to be seriously considered for your next casual family outing, date night or on-a-whim adventure with friends. Oh, and don’t forget to turn around and see Wisconsin from the waterfall’s point of view.
1. Wilke Glen & Cascade Falls
Location: Osceola, Wis.
Recreation: Perfect for swimming
OVERALL RATING: 10/10
Hidden beneath pleasant downtown Osceola, Cascade Falls — and its home glen — tower over their daily visitors. Greenery spreads upward against the burnt-orange clay canyon, leaving a perfect space for swim and recreation.
The waterfall pours 25 feet over the Earth’s ledge erosion into a large, shallow pool. Because the ledge caves under the falls, you can actually walk under it from the far left side to the far right side of the waterfall. Just be careful not to slip!
Obviously, the immense beauty and local convenience of Cascade Falls makes for a busy environment; however, the motionless transit from the USA’s midwest to a tropical Indonesia makes the capacity the most worthwhile.