From crystal clear lakes to austere pine forests, Wisconsin’s state parks have a lot to offer the traveler seeking to escape the city. When planning your next Wisconsin vacation or road trip, don’t rule out one of Wisconsin’s best kept secrets: waterfalls.
With more than 40 major waterfalls across the state, it may be hard to decide where to start. In this article, we’ve featured five of the highest, most spectacular falls you can find in Wisconsin – take a look!
Big Manitou Falls
With an impressive 165 feet of vertical height, Big Manitou Falls is the tallest waterfall you can find in Wisconsin by about 65 feet. Oh, and if you’re wondering how Big Manitou’s 165 feet measures up to other waterfalls, then consider the fact that Niagara Falls is only two feet higher.
To experience this impressive waterfall, you’ll need to head to Pattison State Park in Superior. The trail leading to the falls is a relatively easy .5-mile hike that originates in the Pattison State Park’s main picnic area. While you’re there, check out the more strenuous Big Manitou Falls river trail, which is about 1.5 miles round trip and offers a striking view of the nearby Douglas Fault. If it’s warm enough, you can also enjoy a leisurely swim at Interfalls Lake, which is fed by Big Manitou Falls and the Black River.
Morgan Falls – Marengo
Located near Marengo in a Northern section of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Morgan Falls is the second tallest waterfall in Wisconsin, with a height between 70 and 100 feet, depending on how it’s measured.
To reach these falls, you’ll need to park in the nearby parking lot and hike a moderate 1.2 miles. You’ll be rewarded with scenic views of this playful, zig-zagging waterfall. You can also continue on the trail for few more miles to reach St. Peter’s Dome, but be prepared for a challenge as the hike is steep, rugged and can be quite muddy. Once you reach the rough granite outcrop of the dome, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view of the forest and the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior.
Copper Falls – Mellen
Copper Falls State Park is just north of Mellen and contains three different waterfalls: Copper Falls, Brownstone Falls, and Red Granite Falls. This state park is one of the most picturesque in Wisconsin, thanks in no small part to the unique geology that formed the waterfalls in the park. In the park, you’ll find black rock formed from ancient lava, sandstone, shale, and red granite that formed when giant glaciers passed through Wisconsin.
For the best views of the waterfalls in this park, you’ll want to hike the more popular Doughboys Nature Trail, which has numerous designated outlooks where you can take photos or admire the falls. For a more secluded and serene hike, the 2.5-mile Red Granite Falls trail starts at Loon Lake and offers intimate views of the smaller but still impressive Red Granite Falls.
Potato River Falls – Gurney
If you’re adventurous and ready for a more strenuous hike, then the lower and upper Potato River Falls in Gurney will not disappoint. These falls are located in a county park that you’ll find at the end of Potato River Falls road, a gravel road off Highway 169.
To get the best views of these falls, you’ll want to make sure you thoroughly, but carefully, hike the area. You’ll find an observation deck near the main parking lot with distant views of the lower falls, but for a better vantage point take the main trail down into the gorge. Once you’ve taken in the Lower Potato Falls, head back to the initial trail you started on and follow signs toward the Upper Potato Falls. This trail is challenging, but it provides excellent views of the cascades that flow between the Upper and Lower Falls.
With only a 20-foot drop, LaSalle Falls may not measure up to the height of some of the other falls in Wisconsin. Yet, what these falls lack in height they make up in distance, with about a half mile of rapids that run into the gorge at the bottom of the falls.
You can get a great view of these falls by hiking through a secluded forest trail for a mile and then proceeding down the steep rock formation along the falls. For the brave of heart, Lasalle Falls can also be viewed from canoe or kayak at the end of the gorge.