When we first moved to Duluth, I bought a book called True North: Alternate and Off-Beat Destinations in and Around Duluth Superior and Shores of Lake Superior by Tony Dierckins. We paged through the book and built little family adventures in our new neighborhood. The North Shore was filled with star attractions, so we took a lot of trips northeast of Duluth. After a few years, we came up with our own ideas. The book disappeared on a shelf.
One sunny weekend, I scrambled through the house looking for that book. I was out of ideas and the beautiful day was slipping away. Weren’t there some waterfalls on the South Shore? Little low-key ones not too far away? I was so desperate for adventure I was thinking about going over the bridge into Wisconsin. Madness, I know. I found the book and we salvaged the day. Wisconsin waterfalls to the rescue.
Sometimes, you just want to jump in your car with sneakers on and go for an easy walk. Not a giant expedition. Just a one-hour drive to the east from Duluth, there are three easily accessible waterfalls. This triad exists in a 15-mile stretch of road between Port Wing and Cornucopia, Wisconsin.
First, we stopped in Port Wing at Twin Falls Park. More correctly, I drove right by the entrance and had to backtrack. We parked and walked up the short path to the falls. When we were there, the Larson Creek flow was just a trickle. We got a look from the platform above the falls. We ended up walking behind the falls and observing the curves and potholes in the rock carved by higher waters. Our dog, Leo, dunked himself in the creek. We need to visit again when the water is rushing.
After this brief stop, we drove farther east on Highway 13. Once again, I blew past the Klemik Road that we needed to follow south for one mile. (I think lots of U-turns are a symptom of a healthy road trip.) We found the yellow gate to the ATV trail we planned to hike to the east. It was a two-mile walk into Lost Creek Falls. We crossed Lost Creek #2 and Lost Creek #1. Then we found a path to the right that led down through towering pines to a really magical spot. We thought we were close when the kids saw several little cairns along the creek. We were the only ones there.
The Lost Creek Falls themselves were quite scenic. The added bonus was that the kids could walk behind the 15-foot sheet of falling water. It took some effort, but I kept myself from jumping through the falls like Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans. It was such a pretty spot that we hung out for quite a while. My son built a small cairn while my daughter found a little frog. We found our way back to the car and headed off in search of waterfall number three.
Siskiwit Falls was completely different than the first two narrow cascades. We found Siskiwit Falls Road. The only bridge on this short road crosses the Siskiwit River. Once again, we were the only car and parked next to the bridge. We found a barely visible path on the east side of the bridge and walked downstream. There was a long and wide riffle of water that was surprisingly loud, yet gentle. We bushwhacked back to the road. We went upstream and found a much smaller, more heavily visited set of falls. Clearly, most people visit the smaller upstream falls since they’re visible from the bridge. Don’t miss the bigger falls downstream.
By now, we just wanted snacks and some gas from the local filling station. We drove into the setting sun back toward Duluth. I thought about the three waterfalls we saw. Only one of them even had a sign. Each was unique. It was a small adventure, but a fun one just the same. Part of the excitement for me is comparing the guidebook description to real life. The books and websites talk about more Wisconsin waterfalls. I wonder what they look like?
Find other Wisconsin waterfalls in Waterfalls of Minnesota’s North Shore and More by Eve & Gary Wallinga, available here.
By Eric Chandler