bond falls winterThis quick and easy getaway is a day trip to three different waterfalls. Bond falls is the largest and most famous. The other two are Agate Falls and Canyon Falls.  Bond Falls is one of the most popular and beautiful waterfalls in the upper peninsula of Michigan, also happens to be one of the easiest to visit. It is on the middle branch of the Ontonagon River, a few miles east of Route 45 on Bond Falls Road. The entrance is a gravel road that winds downhill to the parking area, immediately adjacent to the trails and walks along the waterfall. The waterfall drops about 50 feet and there is a boardwalk that extends across the river, below the base of the falls, where one can get a perfect view. There are trails on both sides of the waterfall that afford different points of view and photo opportunities. The old trail, with some steep rocky climbs on the east side of the falls, is still accessible for hikers and there are other trails through the woods.  Bond Falls is beautiful and popular in all seasons, summer and fall being the busiest. In winter, snowmobile riders can drive right down to the parking area, but cars are best left at the top near the gate. It is just a short walk down to the falls. The river continues its drop of nearly 900 feet en route to Lake Superior. To the north the river drops again, at Agate Falls.

Located on Route 28, Agate Falls is an entirely different experience, and can be reached by continuing on Bond Falls Road. There is good parking at the park near the falls with walking trails leading along the river. In the warm months this is a favorite spot to stop, picnic, and enjoy the roaring river. The trail along the river makes it possible to hike down below the waterfall for great picture taking opportunities.  A unique feature of this waterfall is the old rail road bridge that crosses the river. That bridge is now part of a rail to trails project and is a popular snowmobile route in winter. It may not be easy to get up there, but I can tell you that the view is worth it, especially in the winter time. The views from the old railroad trestle are breathtaking.

Canyon Falls is a short drive away. Continue east on Route 28 to the intersection with Route 41. Head north toward L'Anse and Alberta. Just south of Alberta is the park entrance to reach Canyon Falls. Canyon Falls, is a box canyon waterfall and sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the Upper Peninsula. In the summer months the hike along the boardwalk follows the course of the Sturgeon River to the waterfall. There are actually several drops that comprise the falls. At the far end is the payoff. The waterfall at the end roars and plunges through a canyon and is a contender for best waterfall in the upper peninsula. In the winter months the parking area is closed, but you can park at the pull off, then snowshoe into the falls. If you go in winter, you may well have the whole wilderness to yourself. The silence of the forest is broken only by the sound of the river rushing down the canyon and the occasional bird song. Parts of the river may be frozen and the water will come ripping out of the ice dam on the downstream side. This is a winter hike that can be cold and wet, but the scenery makes it worth every bit of it. It is so beautiful, we wondered why we were the only people there.

There are a lot of other destinations to discover in the forests around Paulding. If you feel like another hike, O Kun De Kun Falls is just to the north of Paulding. It does involve a hike along a fairly rough trail. That trail will intersect with the North Country Trail at the falls. O Kun De Kun is a plunge falls and when it is in full flow, you can actually walk behind the waterfall.

If you want to go out at night, Paulding is the place where the Paulding Ghost Light has been spotted for a couple of generations now. The best place to see the “ghost light” is just south of Paulding. These days it is usually reported from the dead end on Robbins Rd. If you plan to stay in the area, the Running Bear Resort has excellent cabins and they know the entire area very well.