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Directions - The best way to get there is go west out of L’Anse on Route 38 toward Ontonagon to Baraga Plains Rd. Go south and find Clear Creek Rd. Take that road for several miles through the forest to reach the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness and the trailhead. These roads are gravel much of the way.

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Sturgeon River Gorge

Here is another great destination in the upper peninsula where you will be off the grid. This is a difficult place, but the canyon and waterfalls at the bottom of the gorge are magnificent. It is no accident that some people refer to this spot as the “Grand Canyon” of Michigan.

 waterfall

This is an incredibly beautiful area but the trail down into the gorge is quite narrow and can be treacherous. In fact, the wall of the gorge is so steep that the trail uses a series of switchbacks to deal with the steep canyon walls. Switchback trails are unusual in Michigan. Switchbacks or not, sections of the trail are still quite steep and very slippery when the ground is wet and muddy. This is an unimproved trail with rocks and tree roots along the way. Make sure you have proper footwear, like no flip flops, and a walking stick might be come in handy. You have a long descent. It would be around 400 feet if you were going straight down. Still, it isn’t extreme. Our group was all people over 70 years of age and we had no problems.

The series of waterfalls at the bottom of the trail make it all worth it. You may even forget that you have to climb back out. You find yourself on a wide flat area of bedrock perhaps fifteen to twenty feet above the river facing a small waterfall. As you work your way along the trail both upstream and down, there are several falls and cataracts. One will be a fairly, gentle rapids and another will be a turbulent cataract crashing through steep canyon walls throwing clouds of mist into the air. Getting the really cool photographs involves some work. In one place you have to climb down a steep trail. In another you are down in the canyon with the water roaring through just a couple feet away. Everywhere you step you are on wet slippery rocks or slick ground with roots protruding. Taking your time and being careful will result in a wonderful experience at a spot that many people never locate.

There are no facilities, none. This is a genuine wilderness so be prepared. Take water and you might want a trail snack as well. It is a long way down to the river and it takes some effort to make it back up especially if you go in the summer and must contend with heat, mosquitoes and black flies. It is worth every bit of it.