20 Best Waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin
A guide to the most beautiful and best waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin
There’s nothing quite so humbling and exhilarating as standing near the foot of a waterfall, deafened by the roar of the water and overwhelmed by the raw force of nature.
Altogether, there are dozens of waterfalls to visit in Northern Wisconsin. Marinette County, in particular, is known as the waterfall capital of Wisconsin, with a total of fourteen waterfalls!
Wild or made accessible by state parks, small rapids or 165 feet tall, they are all impressive and worth a visit.
A memorable experience for hikers, nature enthusiasts, or families on a day out, many state parks containing waterfalls also offer camping opportunities.
This article is a compilation of some of the best waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin, complete with a handy map to help you find your way.
Whether you’re planning a tour of a series of waterfalls, or just looking for new things to do in Northern Wisconsin, you won’t be disappointed!
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Useful Travel Information for Wisconsin
1. Copper Falls, Mellen
Near the town of Mellen in north-western Wisconsin lies Copper Falls State Park, named after one of the best waterfalls in Wisconsin. About 30 ft in height, the Copper Falls get their name from the reddish hue of the water, caused by its high iron content.
While in the Park, you can explore the Bad River gorge where the walls reach even 100 ft in places.
These walls are made of ancient lava flows, hardened into dark rock. It’s best to visit the Park a day or two after rainfall, in order to see the river and the waterfalls at their most impressive.
Hiking the 1.7-mile Doughboy’s Trail is the best way to see the Copper Falls. This looped trail will also give you a great view of the Brownstone Falls, as well as the Tyler Cascades and the Devil’s Gate making it one of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin.
Easily one of the best vacation ideas in Wisconsin is to hike the trail with beautiful waterfall experience side by side.
Camping is available in Copper Falls State Park, including one backpack campsite and an accessible log cabin. It’s definitely one of the most uniquely positioned Northern Wisconsin cabin rentals!
It’s worth knowing that only 20 minutes north of Copper Falls State Park there is another waterfall, the Potato River Falls, n°8 on this list.
Where to stay: Best Western The Hotel Chequamegon *** – Ashland, WI
2. Brownstone Falls, Mellen
Brownstone is the other large waterfall in Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin, accessible via the Doughboy’s Trail and also measuring around 30 ft.
If you’re planning on hiking the trail, keep in mind that there is a spur off the Doughboy’s near the Brownstone Falls; the CCC 692 Trail.
It’s worth taking a detour there as the CCC 692 will take you to a 65-foot observation tower with incredible views of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands!
The breathtaking view of the falls here will leave you awestruck! No wonder that the area was a film location for some of the best movies set in Wisconsin.
Copper Falls is one of the largest state parks in Wisconsin. There’s plenty to see and to do, especially for hikers and nature lovers.
Where to stay: Quality Inn Ashland – Lake Superior *** – Ashland, WI 54806
3. Big Manitou Falls, Pattison State Park, South Range
Located within the Pattison State Park in Douglas County, the Big Manitou Falls are the highest waterfalls in all Wisconsin. Pattison itself is one of the most popular Wisconsin state parks with waterfalls.
The waterfall is on the Black River, a tributary of the Nemadji River, and has a height of 165 ft. This makes it the fourth highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.
Interestingly, the Native Americans settled nearby believed that the roar of the water concealed a voice of the Great Spirit Gitche Manitou. This is how the waterfall got the name it holds until today.
The waterfall is best viewed from the Big Manitou Falls Trail, one of the most scenic hiking trails in Wisconsin. To reach the start of the trail, head to the Pattison State Park Entrance (6294 WI-35, Superior, WI 54880).
The waterfall is direct across the highway from the park and is accessible by a tunnel. Even if you’re not up for a hike, you can still experience the magnificent beauty of the Big Manitou Falls.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Superior *** – Superior, WI 54880
4. Little Manitou Falls, Pattison State Park
The Little Manitou Falls are only a few miles upstream from the Big Manitou Falls, described above. The name of this waterfall is somewhat misleading as it has a not-so-small height of 30 ft. It’s only little in comparison to its 165 ft neighbour!
The 1.5-mile out and back hiking trail that leads to the Big Manitou Falls will also take you to the Little Manitou Falls.
Alternatively, you can see this waterfall by driving to the parking lot at Camp Pattison and taking the short walk to a designated viewpoint.
There are plenty of hiking trails nearby, thus make sure to bring your vegan hiking boots too!
Where to stay: Hampton Inn Superior Duluth, Wi ** – Superior, WI 54880
5. Superior Falls, Saxon
The border between Wisconsin and Michigan is partially formed by the Montreal River. That’s where you’ll find the Superior Falls, just a stone’s throw away from Lake Superior, one of the best lakes in Wisconsin.
There is a convenient viewing area from which you can see the final and highest (60 ft) drop of the Superior Falls, as it empties into Lake Superior.
Further up the river, there are several smaller drops, though they are difficult to access as there is no official trail leading to them.
To see the Superior Falls at their most impressive, visit in the early spring. From US-2 in Wisconsin, turn north onto WI-122.
Approximately half a mile after crossing into Michigan, a gravel road on the left will take you to a parking lot for the viewing point.
While you’re in the area, it would be a shame not to spend some time on Lake Superior, especially the nearby Oronto Bay, with a 1km-long sandy beach and great spots for swimming.
It’s one of the best beaches in Wisconsin to enjoy your vacation.
It’s also worth noting that thanks to being so close to the Apostle Islands, this area offers some of the best resorts in Northern Wisconsin.
If you want to enjoy an offbeat vacation, Wisconsin should definitely be on your bucket list, since there are countless places to vacation in Wisconsin.
Where to stay: Barkers Island Inn Resort & Conference Center ** – Superior, WI 54880
6. Cascade Falls, Osceola
Described by the locals as ‘the best small town you never meant to visit’, Osceola is located in north-western Wisconsin, right on the border with Minnesota and about 50 miles from Minneapolis.
Not many people know that this little, unassuming town conceals a true natural gem: the Cascade Falls, in the Wilke Glen gorge.
The gorge and waterfall are easily accessible by a set of stairs directly from one of Osceola’s streets, and make for a unique and gorgeous natural refuge.
Hikers will be glad to hear that there are two trails nearby; the Eagle Bluff Trail and the Simenstad Trail, totaling about a mile, and making for some of the most unique experiences while hiking in Wisconsin, thanks to the unusual proximity of the town.
There are also kayaking opportunities in the area, complete with a kayak rental service in Osceola.
Where to stay: Summers of Your Youth – Saint Croix Falls, WI 54024
7. Amnicon Falls State Park, South Range
If you prefer swimming to hiking, the Amnicon Falls State Park is the perfect place for you. Located around 14 miles southeast of Superior, Wisconsin, the Park contains a series of small waterfalls and rapids on the Amnicon River.
These are divided into the Upper and Lower Amnicon Falls, and swimming is allowed in both! It’s thus perfect to bring your sustainable swimwear!
Unlike with most waterfalls, visitors can get right up close to the water and experience the torrent of the river. The Amnicon River splits at one point, creating a large island which contains a quarter-mile, flat trail with viewpoints for the falls.
The historic, picturesque covered bridge spanning the river at the Lower Falls is also a great viewing point.
Camping is available in the Park, as well as a playground and a large field which makes it the perfect place for a picnic and a family day out.
For winter visitors, the Park offers a scenic 1.5-mile snowshoe trail.
Where to stay: Rustic Retreat Cabin – South Range, WI
8. Potato River Falls, Gurney
One of the lesser-known waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin, the Potato River Falls are often described as a ‘hidden gem’ of Iron County. It’s located near the town of Gurney, about a mile from Highway 169.
The waterfall is split into two sections, known as the Upper and the Lower Potato River Falls, measuring 20 and 30 ft, respectively, around 400 ft apart. In the middle, the water levels out for a stretch where visitors can wade in the river between the two waterfalls.
There is no designated trail leading down to the water, so only nimble climbers will be able to reach this part of the river!
The most popular trail begins at the parking lot, following the rim of the gorge in the upstream direction. The path contains a series of wooden steps, so it’s more of a walk than a hike.
Alternatively, it’s also possible to partially see the falls from an observation deck next to the parking lot.
There is a picnic area near the parking lot, and if you want to turn your day-trip into an overnight experience, five free rustic campsites are available near the falls.
For visitors planning to stay for longer, there are plenty of holiday rentals and romantic cabins in Wisconsin to choose from.
Where to stay: Whitecap Mtn Village Chalet – Upson, WI
9. Interstate Falls, Hurley
The Michigan River, forming part of the border between Wisconsin and Michigan, is rich in waterfalls. Just outside of Hurley on the Wisconsin side of the river, you’ll find the Interstate Falls.
A short, relatively easy hike will be necessary to reach the 20-ft waterfall. Completing the 0.5-mile loop trail is well worth it!
The trailhead is located on 5457 Center Dr, Hurley, WI 54534, and will take you to the crest of the waterfall. To see the base, a slightly more challenging hike will be needed.
Less than half a mile to the south-east from the Interstate Falls, there is another, slightly smaller waterfall, the Peterson Falls. So, don’t forget to check it out while you’re here!
Where to stay: Days Inn by Wyndham Hurley *** – Hurley, WI 54534
10. Upson Falls, Upson
Located on the Potato River, just outside the small town of Upson, Wisconsin, the Upson Falls are about 18 ft in height. The waterfall is in a well-maintained park, so it is easy to reach and view.
From the WIS 122, turn west into Upson Park Road. In less than a quarter-mile, you’ll see the Upson Falls campground on the left.
The Upson Falls Park offers camping and a picnic area close to the falls. It’s a great place to stop for a quick lunch on your way to see the rest of Wisconsin’s waterfalls!
Where to stay: Beautiful Riverside Home – Upson, WI
11. Lost Creek Falls, Cornucopia
This incredibly scenic waterfall lies south-west of the small town of Cornucopia, on the western side of the Bayfield peninsula.
It may not belong to the highest waterfalls in Wisconsin, measuring less than 10 ft, but it has other qualities that make it unique.
Reaching the waterfall is an adventure in itself. It lies deep in the woods, accessible via a moderately difficult 2.2-mile trail that numbers among the best hiking trails in Wisconsin.
The trail is perfect for hiking during warmer months, and for snowshoe experiences in the winter.
The waterfall itself is unusual, for this part of the States, at least, in the way that you can walk behind it. The water falls form a protruding rock ledge, emptying into a shallow pool.
The nearby town of Cornucopia lies on the shore of Lake Superior, in Siskiwit Bay. It features a small marina and a stretch of grassy beach with shaded areas, great for swimming and fishing.
There is also a kayak tour and rental shop in town where you can book your place to take part in unforgettable kayaking adventures, including exploring the Apostle Islands’ sea caves. – Check best cabins in Apostle islands
All of this makes Cornucopia a great destination for an outdoor weekend excursion.
Where to stay: Cabins near Apostle Islands – Bayfield, WI 54814
12. Long Slide Falls, Pembine
At an impressive 50 ft, the Long Slide Falls are the highest waterfalls in north-eastern Wisconsin. They are generally considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the area, with the water cascading down a long, steep rock formation.
To make this an even more enticing destination, both the parking lot and the waterfall itself are easy to reach: just take Morgan Park east of Highway 141.
The path to the falls is signposted from there, so the parking lot is not difficult to find. The short, scenic hike to the falls starts here, and the looped trail measures just under half a mile.
Although there are no amenities near Long Slide Falls, you can reach Morgan Park by traveling two miles east. Morgan Park offers lots of activities, including camping, swimming, and a picnic area.
If you’re more interested in seeing natural wonders than in camping, you can hike (or drive) to the Smalley Falls, half a mile north-west.
Where to stay: Romantic Wood Cabin – Pembine, WI
13. Dave’s Falls, Amberg
Also located close to Pembine, the Dave’s Falls are split into two drops; a wider upper fall of around 6 ft and a narrow, lower drop of 10 ft. It lies in a gorgeous, thick forest, and the surroundings are said to be just as beautiful as the waterfall.
To reach the waterfall, head in the direction of the town of Amberg, just off the US 141. Taking County Park Rd west from the US 141 will take you to the park, and a short walk leading to the waterfall.
While Dave’s Falls may not be a destination in itself, it’s a popular stop for visitors on a tour of the Marinette County waterfalls, which include the Long Slide Falls and the Eighteen Foot Falls, among others.
Where to stay: Americas Best Value Inn & Suites – Norway ** – Norway, MI
14. Eighteen Foot Falls, Pembine
Just like the Dave’s Falls, the Eighteen Foot Falls are on the Pike River, not far from the town of Pembine.
This is a great choice for the most adventurous visitors, as there are no well-maintained paths or stairs to reach the waterfall. It’s thus perfect when looking for cool things to do in Wisconsin in winter.
Seeing the Eighteen Foot Falls up close requires only a short hike, but the terrain is rather wild and unkempt, which makes it somewhat difficult but all the more rewarding excursion. The trail itself is a good candidate for the best hike in Wisconsin.
However, no viewing platforms or artificial vantage points are available, so it may be challenging to get a good view of the waterfall. Bear in mind that there are no fences or railings here, so this trip may not be suitable for kids!
Where to stay: Romantic Wood Cabin – Pembine, WI
15. Foster Falls, Gurney
Another wild waterfall with no railings or platforms, the Foster Falls drop 25 ft into the Potato River. It’s not the easiest waterfall to reach, but it’s definitely worth the effort, especially if you’re on a larger tour of waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin.
The lack of active maintenance means that you can clamber onto the rocks and explore the area as much as you like.
The Foster Falls are located 5 miles north of Upson in Iron County. To reach it from the WIS 122, head west onto Sullivan Fire Lane.
Where to stay: Whitecap Mtn Village Chalet – Upson, WI
16. Saxon Falls, Saxon
We’re back on the Montreal River, on the border between Wisconsin and Michigan. The Saxon Falls are located 5 miles north-east of the town of Saxon, Wisconsin.
This waterfall measures an impressive 90 ft, although rather than forming a dramatic vertical drop, it’s split into several smaller falls.
Compared to the other waterfalls on this list, The Saxon Falls are some of the most difficult to reach. It’s definitely best suited for adventurous hikers who enjoy a challenge!
It’s located over one of the deepest gorges in the Midwest, and there are no platforms or stairs to help visitors reach the waterfall.
There is a dam and power plant on the Montreal River close to the falls. To start your hike towards the Saxon Falls, head to the dam. You’ll find a trail here that will lead you to the waterfall.
Keep in mind that in difficult weather conditions or at high water, it may be impossible to hike the trail!
Where to stay: Whitecap Mtn Village Chalet – Upson, WI
17. Houghton Falls, Washburn
Located inside a state Natural Area, the Houghton Falls are north of the town of Washburn, right near the shore of Lake Superior.
Rather than being part of a river, this is a small waterfall formed of rainwater or melting snow, depending on the season.
Because of the low volume of water here, the falls are best visited in spring, after rainfall.
Even if the water isn’t flowing though, the area is still definitely worth a visit. The surrounding forest and the glen above the falls are enough to make for a great day out.
There are no steep or difficult climbs here, so it’s perfect when planning weekend trips in Wisconsin with kids especially.
There are several other cool things to do in Northern Wisconsin as well in order to make your trip more memorable, like visiting the Houghton Falls State Natural Area, the Thompson’s West End Park, and the Memorial Park.
To get to the glen and the falls, take Houghton Falls Rd east from Highway 13. While you’re in the area, make sure you stop by the Houghton Point Cliffs!
Where to stay: The Washburn Inn – Washburn, WI 54891
18. Willow Falls, Hudson
Highly accessible and incredibly impressive, the Willow Falls are around 10 miles north-east of Hudson, Wisconsin, in the Willow River State Park.
The waterfall is split into several drops, the highest of which measures about 15 ft. The combined height of 45 feet is made all the more impressive by the overall size of the waterfall. The Willow River is about 100 ft wide here!
The shortest trail leads down into the gorge. Even though it’s only about a quarter-mile in length, it’s very steep and can be challenging!
Longer trails are available (just over 1 mile one way), as well as an easy path suitable for kids and beginner hikers.
Where to stay: Historic Downtown Mansion – Hudson, WI
19. Morgan Falls, Marengo
Though the Morgan Falls are some of the highest falls in Northern Wisconsin at 70 ft, they are also one of the narrowest, measuring only 2 ft across.
The narrow stream of water makes its way down a near-vertical rock face, creating a truly memorable view.
The Morgan Falls are located in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and requires a 1.2-mile hike (round trip) to reach.
Because the stream is so narrow here, it’s best to visit this waterfall in Spring. Although it’s worth noting that the trail is a popular snowshoe destination in winter as well.
While you are in Mellen for a vacation, you can even plan a trip to the Apostle Islands. The things you can do on the Apostle Islands include cruising, sailing, and hiking.
Where to stay: Check cabins near Apostle Islands
20. LaSalle Falls, Florence
The LaSalle Falls on Pine River measure 22ft in height, all in one spectacular drop. A series of rapids downstream add to the roar of the water and make the experience all the more memorable.
The waterfall is located south of Florence, Wisconsin. To reach the parking area for the falls, take LaSalle Falls Rd north from County Highway C. From here, you can get started on your way towards the falls on foot.
The trail is fairly long (1.9-mile out and back) but it’s not a difficult hike, suitable for all skill levels. Directly accessing the waterfall is much more challenging, involving a steep climb over slippery rocks.
Where to stay: Log cabin on beautiful Keyes Lake – Florence, WI
Other waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin that are not mentioned in this post but that are equally spectacular are:
- Twelve Foot Falls, Dunbar
- Brown County, WI, Fonferek’s Glen, Green Bay
- Grandfather Falls, Merrill, 2h drive from Wisconsin Dells
Wisconsin Waterfalls Map
Short FAQ about the best Waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin
There are several beautiful waterfalls in Wisconsin and to name a few are Amnicon Falls, Potato River Falls, Upson Falls, etc.
Located within the Pattison State Park in Douglas County, Big Manitou Falls is the highest waterfall in Wisconsin.
Upson Falls, Long Slide Falls, Willow Falls, etc are the best Wisconsin waterfalls with easy access.