I’ve been talking about waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a lot lately. It makes sense when covering a nature focused trip where 300+ waterfalls call this peninsula home. Narrowing it down, you can see an abundance of waterfalls in one park alone, the Porcupine Mountains. So far I’ve covered two hikes full of falls in the park: the Presque Isle River Waterfalls and the Union Mine Trail. If you want to see a bunch of falls in a short hike, then these two trails are for you.
The hike I’m covering today is the last of the waterfalls I saw on this trip. These falls fall (ha!) somewhere between the two other groups. They are larger than the Union Mine falls, and smaller than the Presque Isle falls. They are less visited than the Presque Isle Falls, and more visited than the Union Mine Falls. They hit a sweet spot of size and seclusion.
Where are we? This trail can be found on the southwest side of the park, off the main South Boundary Road. A short sideroad (Little Carp River Road) leads you to a parking area shared for some of the cabins and the several trails that can be accessed from this point. I’ve circled this area in red on the map below.
Zooming in, you can see the names of the two falls on this short hike, Overlooked Falls and Greenstone Falls. On this hike, we’re traveling from the P (parking area) to Greenstone Falls and back. On this route, Greenstone Falls the waterfall is before Greenstone Falls the cabin. Somewhat confusing but aptly named.
Overlooked Falls and Greenstone Falls
Distance: 2 miles (one mile out, one mile back)
Difficulty: Moderate – While this trail has little elevation, it does require some balance and surefootedness as part of the trail is made of skinny wooden planks which are sometimes surrounded by mud and water.
Description: This out and back trail travels through peaceful forest to two small waterfalls
I feel like this is as good a time as any to mention it; when we hiked this trail in June, it was buggy. Really, really buggy with ravenous mosquitoes. May and June are the worst months in the peninsula for mosquitos and biting flies, and most of the interior of the park was buggy while we were there. Once you get away from the stronger winds off the lake, the bugs start to feast. If you are planning a trip during the worst bug months and aren’t a fan of trail running, I highly recommend a bug net on this trail.
The trail starts wide and flat as it travels from the parking lot towards the Little Carp River.
Here the Little Carp River is narrow and calm. This 15-mile river winds through the park on its way to emptying in Lake Superior. Along its path are numerous waterfalls.
Near the river, a sign tells you where to turn to reach the first fall, Overlooked Falls. You can also cross the river and view the falls from the bank on the other side.
After a short 100 foot walk, you reach the falls.
Overlooked Falls is made of a few small drops, each falling 3-5 feet.
The falls can be seen from either side of the trail, and offers similarly nice views on both sides. The bank is a gentle slope which allows you to get close to the water if you like.
After enjoying Overlooked Falls, backtrack to the main part of the trail. From here, cross the footbridge over the Little Carp River to continue on. We turned west on the trail to head towards Greenstone Falls. This trail meets up with the longer Little Carp River Trail, a 12-mile trail that follows the river through the park.
Now that you’re on a more serious trail, the walkway becomes narrow and more rugged. At several points on the trail, the dirt path is aided by wooden planks to serve as both bridges and trail to keep you above the sometimes muddy ground.
While the water and mud were low when we were there, you can see how high the planks are built. I know from looking at the photos of others who hiked this trail when the water was higher, these planks are essential at times. This plank bridge was pretty narrow (2 planks wide) and required an amount of balance as to not fall off. It would have been fine if I fell off in the dry dirt, but that becomes a less pleasant experience when you’re surrounded by mud or high water.
Small bridges help hikers across some of the larger gaps.
After a short mile or so hike, you reach Greenstone Falls!
This coherent little falls is made of one 5-6 foot fall.
Like the other falls, you can get down close or in the water as the bank isn’t overly steep. Seeing the falls was a quick stop for us as the mosquitos were starting to break us.
After quickly enjoying the falls, we turned around and backtracked/trail ran to the parking lot. Oddly enough, our water loving black lab seemed to enjoy the return trip more than any of the river. We were moving quick, much quicker than we normally do, and this seemed to be her preferred pace. I guess I should always trail run every trail to please the dog.
If you’re looking for a pleasant, short, easy, secluded trail with waterfalls, then this could be the hike for you. Take care to consider the necessary precautions if you’re traveling in peak-bug season, but otherwise this trail is absolutely worth the small time investment.