It has been my goal for quite some time to do the waterfalls tour in Marinette County. When I got some time off work and decided to do 7 Wisconsin road trips in 7 days, the waterfalls tour was on my list.
There are 14 waterfalls total on this self guided tour. Maps are available at most gas stations in Marinette County, I had been up at Pembine, Wisconsin the week before ATVing with my family, so I picked up the free map and Marinette County visitors guide. You can also visit their website for maps, a visitors guide, and all sorts of information relating to Marinette County. This is a fabulous area of northern Wisconsin that I urge you to visit. If you have not spent time in northern Wisconsin, You have not really experienced what Wisconsin is all about!
For those that do not know, Marinette County is the Waterfall Capitol of Wisconsin. Because of the terrain and the 3 main rivers that run through the county (Pestigo, Pike, and Menominee) the area is rich in outdoor activities, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming make for some great outdoor activities along with miles of ATV and snowmobile trails, camping, and lots of other accommodations make this area a great spot for vacationers.
So armed with sunscreen, bug spray, umbrellas, water, and snacks, my longtime friend Becky and I set out early in the morning for the 2 hour drive north. We had already studied the map and decided to start at Daves Falls right off of highway 141 between the Village of Wausaukee and Pembine. Daves Falls is located in a nice county park with a picnic area. We decided to stop here first because it was right off of 141 and we figured we’d then head northwest to Dunbar and take in waterfalls #4-9, since they were within a short distance from each other. From there we would head northeast to Pembine and Niagara to catch #12-14, then loop our way back south to Goodman for #2 and 3, then finish in Crivitz with #1. It was an ambitious plan and rain was in the forecast for the whole day, so we figured we would try and get in the bulk of them and see what happens and if time would run out.
Note-To get to many of the waterfalls, you will need a county day pass for parking in the Marinette County Parks. The $3.00 (for a day sticker) price tag is well worth it for all the cool things you will see. You purchase a sticker at the park, put your money in an envelope with your vehicle information and the date and you are ready to go.
Note #2-Some of the hiking you need to do to get to some of the waterfalls involves rough terrain. This is not the time to wear flip flops! Good sturdy hiking shoes are essential to some of these waterfalls. Since it was raining the day we went, I was happy for my waterproof hikers! You do need to do some navigating over hills and rocks, so not every waterfall may be for those that have mobility issues. We were fine, both healthy and in our 50’s, but we took our time at each one.
We first stopped at Green Bay for a hearty brunch at Julie’s Cafe on Velp Avenue to fuel up our bodies for the long day. We arrived at Daves Falls around 10:00, bought our parking pass for the day and began our adventure.
We took the short hike to Daves Falls and since the walk was nice and this was our first waterfall, we spent quite a bit of time here snapping pictures and just being in awe of the nature of it all. Because of all the rainfall we have had, the water level is high which makes for a rush of water over the falls like I have never seem before. On our hike to the falls we could tell as we approached that we were close just by the sound of the rushing water. Even at this first stop, I couldn’t help but question why it took me so long to do this!
The next stop was Bull Falls located just a very short distance by car from Dave’s Falls just across the highway. This one was interesting because there was just a little place to park and a small path along the power lines to reach this falls. The ground was saturated with water from all the rain, but we made it through and were rewarded with a great waterfall. Also nice was the secluded spot. I could just see returning on a hot sunny day with a good book and blanket and just read away the hours! Actually I would say that about every falls we visited that day!
Then it was time to drive to our next area with the most concentration of waterfalls for the day. We found Horseshoe Falls when we followed the signs (all the falls that we visited were clearly marked with the bright blue signs). I’ll admit some of the falls are not the easiest to find and cell service in this area is dicey to say the least, so make sure you are armed with the map! It doesn’t hurt to have a navigator with you either. Originally I was going to take this trip solo. In the end, I was thankful Becky came with me. Not only was it fun to view the waterfalls with someone, but I was so happy that she could steer me in the right direction.
We quickly decided Horseshoe Falls was our favorite so far. The way it was shaped like an actual horseshoe was so cool. Something about the shape and the water cascading over the different levels of rock, just made it a unique sight.
Twelve and Eight Foot Falls are located in the same park. Twelve Foot Falls County Park is a nice park with self serve camping and a picnic area. We were able to view Twelve Foot Falls, but the path to Eight Foot Falls was very wet, so we ended up missing that one. If only we had brought out rain boots along…
Anyway, by this time the rain persisted and thank goodness we had those umbrellas. At times the rain came down hard, but we kept going. In a way it was nice, because there were no crowds, only a couple of groups that we kept running into along the way.
Next up, we drove about a mile farther to Eighteen Foot Falls. Each waterfall had something interesting about it. The path to get to this one was fairly rocky. In fact at one point we thought we were mountain climbing! (maybe I am exaggerating just a bit!) Like all the places we had been to, there was no end to the photo ops. It is nearly impossible to capture the beauty of each one, but we certainly tried! I even took some amateur video to post on Facebook.
Then it was onto Carney and Four Foot Falls. Carney was viewable from the bridge on Old County Highway A and Four Foot Falls was just north of there with those blue signs right off the road.
With 7 waterfalls under our belt and now being mid-afternoon, I needed gas and we both needed a bit of caffeine to keep us going. The rain still kept coming down only with brief reprieves in between. Plus it was just in the sixties as far as temps, so at this point we were happy to just call it a day. So we stopped in Pembine at a gas station, got our hot coffee, and decided that since we were so close, we would at least go to Long Slide Falls.
We took the first turn off highway 141 onto Morgan Park Road and got confused as to where we were going. We had no cell service again so we just kept going. About ready to give up, we stopped to ask a gentleman who was fishing where the falls was. He pointed us in the right direction and before long we found Long Slide Falls. Boy were we glad we didn’t miss this one! After the hike, we found ourselves standing at the top of the falls and absolutely in awe of the sight!! The map said it was a magnificent scene and true that!! This falls has a drop of about 50 feet. After taking our pictures, we made the trek to the bottom of the falls. Wow! what a view. We both proclaimed that this was our new favorite falls. We were both so happy we didn’t give up.
After that sight we decided it was getting late, we were hungry and a little wet, we were just going to find Smalley Falls since we were right there and call it a day. We found our turnoff and took the steep trail to the falls. What a perfect way to end our tour! Even though we did not conquer all 14, we were pretty satisfied with what we accomplished in one day. I’d say we spent a fair amount of time at each one although we could have packed a picnic lunch and would have had a great spot to picnic at any one of the falls. (weather permitting of course) I made a mental note to return later in summer when the water levels are not as high to see what a difference that makes in the power of the water over each falls.
Was it worth it? A definite yes!! I would highly recommend doing this. I loved being able to hear the falls as we got closer to each one. The sound was incredible. With the rock formations, the trails, and nature at it’s finest, this was a perfect day. If you don’t want to try a self guided tour, there is a guided tour you can take called Waterfalls Caravan that has 3 different ability levels. So no matter your physical level, you can see the waterfalls. Also these tours offer more than just the sights, you are with an experienced guide, so you get more of a backstory and more about the surroundings with this tour. I plan on taking a Waterfalls Caravan Tour in the future, when I am able to plan a little bit in advance.
So tired, hungry, cold, and a little wet, we decided to drive all the way to Marinette to stop at iconic Mickey-Lu BBQ for a quick supper before home. More about Mickey-Lu’s in an upcoming post.
Thanks for reading! Please comment if you have or want to try the waterfalls tour. Wisconsin is filled with so many things to do and see. I’d love to hear from you.