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Black River Water Falls
Black River Harbor Scenic Parkway & Campground

Black River Harbor
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 some fall visits, 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.

stairway to Rainbow FallsThe National Forest Campground has 40 nicely maintained and spaced wooded campsites on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior. However, no campsite electric service is available. [2018 update. Unfortunately the dump station and running water bathrooms that used to serve the area have been removed. There are now 2 "modern" vault toilets at each of the campground. [During our recent visit we found them clean and free of odors.] Although the bathrooms were removed, there are potable water hydrants available for campers. Hiking trails lead to the harbor park and to an extensive sand beach (see picture) offering lots of picking for rock hounds and a secluded peaceful stroll along the lake for relaxing exercise.

Black River Harbor National Scenic Byway Waterfalls

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.

suspension bridge

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.

black river harbor hiking

Jo and the Andrews family pause along the trail to Rainbow Falls by a huge old hemlock tree. A beautiful old growth climax forest lines the river's gorge.


Rainbow Falls

stairway to Rainbow Falls

Two shots of Rainbow Falls late May . . . and early October (on right).

rainbow fallsrainbow falls

Stairways lead down to viewing platforms by each waterfall.

Sandstone Fallssandstone falls

Sandstone Falls

The next falls upstream from Rainbow Falls is Sandstone Falls.

potawatomi falls
gorge falls
Gorge Falls

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

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.

conglomerate falls black river conglomerate falls

Black River Harbor Campground

lake superior view black river harborblack river harbor campgroundblack river campground

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. Seventeen camp sites are no reservation, first come first serve; but 23 of the 40 sites can now be reserved through

Update. There is no longer a running-water bathroom facility at the campground and the dump station has been removed. Nor is potable water available. Two "new style" vault toilets at either end.

2019 Opening Date: May 9th.

black river harbor maphiking trail to black river harbor

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)

North Country Trail Map


< < < Also a section of the North Country Hiking Trail runs through the park linking all the waterfalls.


agate hunting on the beach

Agate Hunting & Rock Picking

Black River Harbors sand beach is one of our favorite rock picking and agate hunting beaches. See our article on BRH Beach Rock Picking/Agate Collecting.

  Scenic Fall Color Drive - Black River Harbor & Little Girls Pointcolor tour upper peninsula

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 HatThe Original Stormy Kromer Wool Cap in Red & Black

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 in Ironwood, Michigan, 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. - Reinhold Development - 2021


Mobile-Friendly Lake Superior Circle Tour Travel Planner

upper peninsula camping and campgrounds
Best Upper Peninsula Campgrounds

fall color porcupine mountainsSee fantastic Fall Color in the Porkies

Michigan UP Scenic Fall Color
- Black River Harbor & Water Falls
- Presque Isle Water Falls
- Porcupine Mountains Fall Foliage
- Keweenaw Copper Harbor Color
- Old Victoria Color
- Tahquamenon Falls Color
- Central UP Fall Color Tour

Brockaway Mountain Fall Color By Ziming Zheng
Copper Harbor and Brockaway Mountain

Manabezho Falls
Presque Isle River Waterfalls

Wisconsin Outdoor Treasures Hiking Michigan's Upper Peninsula
See Eric Hansen's guide to hiking the Upper Peninsula and other guides for best hiking in the Upper Peninsula [More info]

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Pictured Rocks Cruises

Upper Tahquamenon Falls
Michigan Upper Peninsula Waterfalls

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Travel Information

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Lake Superior Circle Tour Road Map & Guide to Travel Attractions around Lake Superior.

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Best Scenic Fall Color Drives around Lake Superior

Identifying Lake Superior Agates and Beach Rocks.Lake Superior Agate?

Upper Tahquamenon FallsTahquamenon Falls State Park and Waterfalls.

- Michigan UP Scenic Color Tour Map
michigan up color tour road map

Best Rock Picking and Agate Hunting Beaches in the Upper Peninsula. grand marais beach and grand sable dunes

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Upper Peninsula Fall Color Tour Map

Big Sand Bay Eagle Harbor, MI
Copper Harbor & Keweenaw Scenic Drive

Upper Tahquamenon Falls
Upper Tahquamenon Falls

rainbow falls fall color black river harborBlack River Harbor
Scenic Byway - Fall Color.

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Fall Color at Porcupine Mountains State Park

Weather Reports
Snow and Weather Reports around Lake Superior

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Lake Superior Camping
& Campground Directory

Lake Superior Circle Tour Route.

Lake Superior Golf Course Reviews
Reviews of Michigan Upper Peninsula Golf Courses around Lake Superior