The Harbor at the Black River Scenic Recreation Area - Michigan Upper Peninsula
Black River Harbor is the only Great Lakes harbor located administered by the USDA Forest Service. The harbor has services for day and transient boaters, including several dock-side picnic tables. The scenic hiking trails through an old growth hemlock and hardwood forest and five waterfalls make this one of our favorite scenic stops around Lake Superior. And as we discovered in 2005, the waterfalls can be as spectacular in the fall as they are in late spring.
Black River Harbor and Recreation Area is located 15 miles north of Bessemer, Michigan via County 513 - the Black River Scenic Byway. In 1904, this was a wagon road from Bessemer to Lake Superior. In 1924 Gogebic County began construction of the harbor park, later transferred to the USDA Forest Service. The park includes a vending machine kiosk, picnic area, playground, pavilion, campground and a sandy beach.
The National Forest Campground has 40 nicely maintained and spaced wooded campsites on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior. While no campsite electric service is available, there is a dump station and fresh water (note: in 2014 an advisory is out on the drinking water, so plan to bring your own until further notice). The bathrooms, while not offering showers, are nicely maintained and have flush toilets, running water, and electric service. Hiking trails lead to the harbor park and to a secluded beach (see picture) offering lots of picking for rock hounds and a secluded peaceful stroll along the lake for relaxing exercise.
Alert: While some damage was done from the July 12-13, 2016 storm and tornado, most Black River Harbor Rec Area facilities are open: the waterfall trails, picnic area, beach and campground. As of July 16th, the boat launch was temporarily closed but the forest service hopes to have debris cleaned up in the near future.
Hiking Trails & Waterfalls along the Black River National Scenic Byway
In the last two miles before the Black River empties into Lake Superior, it drops 200 feet. Along this stretch there are five waterfalls, each of which has a trailhead parking area and a trail leading to the falls.
The North Country Trail runs adjacent to the river and crosses the suspension bridge near the mouth of the river. The trail goes by the eastern side of Rainbow Falls before turning east towards Porcupine Mountains State Park.
Hans and Jo pause along the trail to one of the waterfalls. Notice the big old hemlock behind them. A beautiful old growth climax forest lines the river's gorge.
Two shots of Rainbow Falls late May . . . and early October (on right).
Stairways lead down to viewing platforms by each waterfall.
Potawatomi & Gorge Waterfalls
The trail to Potawatomi Falls is barrier free, providing an opportunity for people with disabilities to see the falls. Large, old growth hemlock, white pine, and climax forest hardwoods add to the area's beauty. (When these pictures were taken, the trail to Gorge Falls was closed for repair. Since has been re-opened)
Conglomerate Falls splits into two cascades. In the photo on the right you can clearly see the conglomerate rock that gives the falls its name.
The Ottawa National Forest campground is on a bluff overlooking the lake. It has 40 well spaced and nicely maintained campsites, some with Lake Superior Views. No reservations, camp sites are first come first serve.
Hiking Trails & Campground
Click on the map of the harbor camping, hiking trails, and recreational facilities. A quarter mile trail leads from the campground to the harbor park. (Right Picture)
< < < Also a section of the North Country Hiking Trail runs through the park linking all the waterfalls.
Ottawa National Forest Website - Info on Recreation & Camping
Camping and information on Black River Harbor Recreation Area
One of our favorite fall color drives runs from just north and west of Hurley from US Highway 2 towards the lake and Saxon Harbor, then crosses into Michigan to Little Girls Point. From Little Girls Point you can return through the wooded hills and hardwood forest away from the lake and eventually connect with the Black River Scenic Byway that will return you to the lake shore. Learn More about the Black River Scenic Byway and our this color tour drive here.
Stormy Kromer and his hat have a long history with Wisconsin (Stormy was born in Kaukauna, Wisconsin) and Yoopers. Originally hand made by Stormy's wife Ida beginning in 1903. Now continuing to be made in the USA, this practical winter hat is made in a variety of colors and patterns.
See our article and pictures on taking the Stormy Kromer Factory Tour.
SuperiorTrails.com - Reinhold Development - 2015
Eric Hansen's guide to UP hiking is well respected in hiking circles. This guide includes profiles on some terrific off-the-beaten path hiking trails. [More info]
Lake Superior Camping
& Campground Directory
Lake Superior Circle Tour Route