Canyon Falls


Just off the highway between Houghton and Marquette is Canyon Falls Roadside Park. This area has everything you'd expect from a typical roadside park (bathrooms, water, picnic tables) with one added bonus: a well maintained walking path along one of the UP's most striking canyon-waterfall systems. The path itself is just under a half mile in length from the parking lot to the viewing area, with wooden walkways and areas to access the Sturgeon River's northern banks. The viewing area offers some great vantage points to observe both the falls and the canyon to with it pours into.

Continuing southwest past the viewing area (where the Canyon Falls trail officially ends) will bring you onto a stretch of the North Country Trail. This trail has no wooden walkways or railings but is still obvious due to the high amount of traffic it sees. Continuing down this trail will take you past many more great views of the canyon until you reach the spot this location is most famous for: the cliff jumping spot. At the bottom of this particular cliff face is a deep hole where the river and lower falls have eroded a depression in the underlying bedrock. There are a few different areas that you can jump from, ranging from ~40 feet to 15 feet. I'm not exactly sure how high the highest jump is, but it's generally agreed that it's between 35-40 feet. There is also an area on the other south side of the river that can be climbed and jumped from. While I'm not sure how deep the hole actually is, you never come close to touching the bottom, even if pencil diving from 40 feet. On hot days in the fall, it's not unusual to see up to 50 people hanging around in hammocks and cliff jumping. Some people even slackline across the canyon to dive, though I do not recommend this. Continuing down the North Country Trail will eventually take you out of the canyon area and into a nice mature forest.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO JUMP HERE UNLESS YOU GO WITH SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY'RE DOING AND HAS JUMPED HERE BEFORE. Do not jump alone. Jumping in the wrong area, even if you think the water looks deep, could be a fatal mistake. People have fallen to their deaths here. Additionally, do not jump after a significantly heavy rainfall. The distance you have to cover to get back to the rope to climb back up the cliff is short and increased river flow can and will wash you downstream. Do not jump on cold days. I was involved in rescuing a guy from Ohio who watched some people jump, tried it himself, and got washed down the canyon because he missed the rope. By the time we found him and got him up the cliff, he was moderately hypothermic and pretty cut up from the rocks. We ended up having to make him a fire. So in conclusion... DO NOT JUMP HERE UNLESS YOU GO WITH SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY'RE DOING AND HAS JUMPED HERE BEFORE. The marker on the below map has been moved to an imprecise location so you don't try it out by yourself.

To get here from Houghton, head south out of town towards Marquette on US-41. Drive until you reach Alberta and continue for 1.3 miles. The parking area will be on your right. The pathway begins south of the bathrooms and water fountain.

Big thanks to Jacob Loss and Andrew Dubay for the pictures!

#Waterfall #CliffJumping #RockClimbing #Cliffs #Water #Hike

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