Upper Penn Falls on East Branch Firesteel River

gentle slide over conglomerate rock

Looking down on the dome
  • Sprawling slide over the dome of rock
  • Sideways skew to the river
  • Looking down on the dome
  • River calming downstream

The Firesteel River is known to be one of the Upper Peninsula's more sluggish rivers, carving a deep and meandering valley through the dirt and conglomerate around Lake Mine and Rockland. There are two hidden drops on one of its branches, though, sitting a few dozen yards from each other. The upper falls is a long slide over bumpy rocks that froths down to a calm, shallow pool.


From the Lake Mine corner of M-26/M-38, head north about four miles. There will be a track leading to the right that connects with the Bill-Nichols ATV trail. It's a bit hard to pick the correct track, but it is in good shape and will wind for about a half mile through a decent forest before coming out on the well-maintained Bill-Nichols. Either park or drive to the left for 1.5 miles down Bill-Nichols (driving is discouraged, unless you have the proper stickers/vehicle) to an unmarked two-track that heads to the right. Follow this track for a few hundred yards and take the first main fork to the right. It will run straight into East Branch Firesteel below the lower falls. Continue upstream past the lower drop to see Upper Penn Falls.

Comments (2)

  • Mark Piotrowski Jul 18, '15 Please forgive the comment, but this photo is of Lower Penn Falls, is it not?
    • Jacob Emerick Jul 19, '15 Ah, thanks Mark. I've switched them to the correct drop.
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