Piers Gorge

Menominee River Michigan

Near Iron Mountain, in the western upper peninsula, the Menominee River defines the Michigan – Wisconsin border. From headwaters originating at Lac Vieux Desert, it flows through the wilderness to Lake Michigan. Between those two points is country that is wild and picturesque and, right smack in the middle of it all is Piers Gorge. In the gorge the river becomes a wild set of rapids with one cataract becoming a category 5 during the snow melt runoff. Along the impassable south bank of the river, the hills are steep even becoming cliffs at some points. The north side is wild and rugged as well with some towering cliffs, but there is also a trail on that side that gives access to the cataracts in the gorge. The trail is usable in all four seasons.

waterfall rapids

The pathway winds through the silent forest following the course of the river. The trail was first used by Native Americans to portage around the falls, that plunge and roar through the gorge. The pathway is not improved, but is quite smooth, and easy to follow even in the winter. As you walk, you are moving upstream, and will reach the first cataract in only a few minutes. The walk along the river brings you to different viewing spots, sometimes above white water rapids. When you reach the third cataract, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of a wild roaring waterfall in the near distance. There are four different falls or rapids along the pathway. It is easy to forget, that you are only about 8 miles from town, instead of in the middle of some vast unexplored wilderness.

A few miles south of Norway, Michigan is a large sign announcing the road to Piers Gorge. A short drive on that road brings you to a small gravel parking area. The pathway leads into the silent trees, and takes you to the gentle trail, that follows the course of the river. After just a few minutes of walking, the only sound you will hear will be the falling waters in the distance.


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