Explore Florence County’s Waterfalls and Wild Rivers

By Sam Kislia
Staff Writer

Deep in the heart of Florence County lie two of Wisconsin’s most pristine rivers, the Pine and Popple. Wisconsin's Wild Rivers program, established in 1965 with these two waterways, preserves these free flowing streams and protects them from development. The heavily wooded shorelines are lined with sugar maples, white pines and aspen trees that block out noise from the outside world and surround you with untouched natural beauty.

Aside from being designated as Wild Rivers, the Pine and Popple are home to a number gorgeous waterfalls. If you aren’t planning on using a canoe or kayak, most of the falls are also accessible by land.

Trails leading up to the falls range from quarter-mile to just over a mile in length and are generally on ungraded terrain. This shouldn’t discourage you from exploring these rustic trails, but it’s important to know that they do require a bit more physical effort.

Take a look at a few of our favorites below, and subscribe for the inside scoop on Wisconsin's natural attractions!

Popple River

Big Bull Falls

Big Bull Falls are some of the most stunning and accessible falls in Florence County. In fact, from the parking lot on West River Road, the falls are only about a quarter-mile down the primitive trail.

When you arrive, you’ll notice a small island in the middle of the river which separates it into two distinct channels. The northern channel of the river makes up the bulk of Big Bull Falls, while the southern channel is composed of a set of smaller falls. Head downstream for the best view, and you’ll be able to see the entire sequence of cascades in all its glory!

Washburn Falls

It may be a bit trickier to get there than some of the other falls, but the journey to this scenic and tranquil spots is certainly a rewarding one.

Starting at the parking lot on Sunrise Road, follow the trail for about a quarter mile to reach the falls. For the best view, you’ll have to tackle a bit of a steep hill and small stream crossing. From there, you’ll see a peninsula that juts out ahead of the six-foot, cascading waterfall.

If you’re brave enough to tackle this trek, be sure to bring a picnic! The view is so perfect, you won’t want to leave.

Pine River

LaSalle Falls

LaSalle Falls is the crown jewel of Florence County. The residents will agree that if you only visit one waterfall in the area, it should absolutely be LaSalle. The rushing, 22-foot plummet is so gorgeous it’ll leave you mesmerized!

From the parking lot on the north side of LaSalle Falls Road, you can follow the trail for about a mile until it ends at the 35-foot rock outcrop next to the falls.

After you’ve taken some time to marvel at the most impressive falls in the area, head downstream to the gorge, which features a half mile of rapids. For the best vantage point, you’ll need to paddle your canoe or kayak to the bottom of the gorge. When we tell you the view is spectacular, we really mean it.

Pine River Falls

Located just below the Pine River Flowage Dam, the picture-perfect Breakwater Falls is made up of three tiers of falls and rushing rapids. Aside from the falls themselves, this area is home to massive rock formations that demonstrate the impressive power of the river over hundreds of years.

To get there, start at the Pine River Flowage Dam and follow the foot path leading straight to the falls. Although the falls are an incredible sight to see, we don’t recommend this trek for young children or those who aren’t prepared to climb up and down a few boulders to get the best views.

The Pike and Popple are truly deserving of their designations as Wild Rivers. With so many waterfalls and untouched natural beauty in the area, there are infinite adventures to be had – just remember to come prepared and be safe! Tell us about your favorite waterfall experiences in the comments below!


Ready to chase more waterfalls? Check out these easy-access options, four you can dip your feet into, and the waterfalls of Marinette and Iron counties!