Imagine trekking through a majestic Wisconsin trail or taking a stroll alongside a glistening river, when you and your partner hear an intensifying sound of rushing water – and follow your way to the surprise of a waterfall. It’s no secret Wisconsin is teeming with natural beauty across every corner of the state, but these hidden natural Wisconsin attractions are true gems, ready to be explored.
These 10 waterfalls range from big to small, rocky to forested, and vary in accessibility, but all are worthy of adding to your Wisconsin bucket list.
Big Manitou Falls
Find yourself canvassing the beauty below the edge of Wisconsin’s highest waterfall – Big Manitou Falls. With an incredible view of the Black River from 165 feet above, these awe-inspiring falls can be found in Pattison State Park and are easily accessible for any hiking skill level. Carved out of both sandstone and basalt, these cascading falls hold a rich history of the Wisconsin landscape. Plan to stay awhile with family and friends to explore the 1,400 acre park, complete with a beach, additional hiking trails and a camping center. Snap a picture and make some memories at the edge of the fourth largest waterfall east of the Rockies.
Little Manitou Falls
Don’t let the name fool you – Little Manitou Falls is still 30 feet high and very picturesque. A mere three miles upstream from Big Manitou Falls, this two-stream waterfall pours over a unique formation of igneous rocks, making it the perfect spot for a family photo. Enjoy the hike up from Big Manitou Falls or reach the twin falls through a red pine and cedar forest – just a short walk from the main road into Pattison State Park, making it easy to access and the perfect spot to spend the day with kids. Little Manitou Falls is a scenic spot you won’t want to miss, so plan to spend a day taking in these captivating surroundings with the whole family.
Access the beauty of Copper Falls from multiple trails through Copper Falls State Park, a scenic adventure near Mellen, Wisconsin. Catch glimpses of the stunning rocky terrain and ancient lava flows from multiple vantage points through the towering pine trees. Revel in the beauty of the forested canopy as you absorb the roaring of the Bad River cascading from nearly 40 feet high. The falls are multi-tiered, making for a beautiful sight once you’ve had the chance to take in the full effect from a railed family-friendly viewing spot. Your crew will love to show off their selfie skills on the Doughboy Trail viewpoint and stop for a charming photo with the deep gorge as the perfect backdrop.
Venture downstream from Copper Falls and you’ll encounter Brownstone Falls, where two river branches meet in a 40-foot plunge. Surrounded by rocky cliffs that may appear slightly red in appearance, Brownstone Falls is easy to access and can be viewed from a fairly flat and level trail. On either side of the swift-flowing water, the walls of the gorge rise up to 100 feet and stack up to a breathtaking scenic experience.
Please note: The Cascade Falls Trail Head is currently closed, but there are other posted routes around the closure to enjoy the falls.
In the quaint downtown of Osceola, Wisconsin, explore the hidden gem that is Cascade Falls. You’ll find the access point for a short 0.3-mile hike to the falls from Cascade Street. Enjoy the views from a scenic bluff that overlooks the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and an impressive gorge below. Cascade Falls has a 25-foot drop into the Wilkie Glen, and at night the falls light up with LED lights to set a unique vibe for your waterfall adventure.
Long Slide Falls
Once you reach Long Slide County Park in Pembine, don’t be surprised if you can hear the roar of the falls from the parking lot. The impressive view of Long Slide Falls is matched only by the sense of adventure it provides. With 50 feet of falling water cascading over the top of magnificent rock formations, Long Slide Falls is the perfect place to stop and venture – just keep an eye out for some slippery rocks and steep drops. While you’re in the area, be sure to hike over to Smalley Falls, just a half mile northwest and worth the diversion.
Amnicon Falls State Park has a series of waterfalls and rapids along the Amnicon River that are sure to make for a memorable view! You can access these falls by a covered bridge or a 2-mile trail that wraps around the river. Amnicon Falls State Park has plenty of areas to set up an afternoon picnic after an exciting adventure, so don’t forget to pack a picnic basket full of your family’s favorite snacks.
Plunging into the Potato River from 18 feet above, Upson Falls is a unique waterfall that can be found just north of Upson Campground in northern Wisconsin. Though not as tall as some other Wisconsin waterfalls, the width of this impressive fall is foamy and magical, as if right out of a fairytale. The short hike to reach the falls has a bit of an incline, so make sure to wear your favorite hiking shoes. And if you want to keep the magic going, you’re in the right place! Iron County has the most waterfalls in the state – so visit Upson Falls and make a day of it while visiting some of the other enchanted falls in the area.
Saxon Falls spans a nearly 90-foot drop with multiple levels and is located right on the Michigan-Wisconsin border. The hike along the wooded trail is worth the view of the gorge below – one of the deepest in the Midwest. Looking to see Saxon Falls at its prime? You may want to plan your visit in the spring months or after a heavy summer rainfall so the lower level falls are running fully and water levels are high.
Willow Falls, located in the lush forest of Willow River State Park, is nearly 100 feet in width and teeming with cascading water over multiple drops of intricate rock formations. The falls are located on the Willow River and fairly easy to access, with the water eventually feeding the larger St. Croix River. Consider taking a trip to Willow Falls in the winter, as well. You and your family will be amazed by the ethereal drifts of ice and snow that cover the area!
Looking to narrow your search for waterfalls in Wisconsin even further? Check out this roundup of five top spots for Wisconsin waterfalls.