Douglass Houghton Falls on Hammell Creek

famous forbidden waterfall of the Keweenaw

Looking up at the tall waterfall
  • Sliding green drops
  • Culvert for the railroad crossing
  • Douglass Houghton Falls
  • Looking up at the tall waterfall
  • Side view of the impressive bowl
  • Down at Torch Lake
  • Upper drop on the creek
  • Big sign for trespassers

A wildly tall and impressive waterfall, Douglass Houghton Falls was once a popular destination for locals and Michigan Tech students alike. Crumbling cliff walls and numerous accidents, many of them fatal, pushed the land owner to cut off access. While the falls are still reachable by following Hammell Creek upstream from Lake Linden, the danger of a careless visit cannot be understated.

This waterfall is well over a hundred feet with several plunges bouncing off the sharp, volcanic rock. Steep walls make it difficult to reach the small drops in the meadow above, but a great view down towards Torch Lake can be made down the green creek valley. A small exploratory shaft is drilled into the side of the falls only a few feet above the creek. While it's hard to reach and dangerous to explore, this waterfall is one of the highlights of the Copper Country.

Directions

Right outside of Lake Linden, where Gregory Street turns into Cemetery Road before heading north up Trap Rock River Valley, park by Hammell Creek. There is an old drive-in theatre, now overgrown, on the east side of the road. Follow the creek upstream over a mile to the falls. Try to avoid climbing the cliff walls, as the crumbling walls have undergone serious erosion over the years.

Comments (16)

  • dcclark Apr 10, '09 You have a mine shaft located right by the falls on the map -- any clue what that is? Is that supposed to be there?
    • Jacob Emerick Apr 12, '09 I've heard rumors about it being an exploratory shaft, and it's shape and structure looks suspicious. I only crawled in a few feet, but it has a nice rounded top and goes pretty straight to be a cave.
    • elpeabod Jan 13, '11 A few friends and I explored this shaft with a flashlight. It is a dead end, although thoroughly creepy. If you plan on exploring it, bring a light and watch your head.
    • Scott Borkowski Feb 10, '18 That is a old copper mine.
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  • buddh May 6, '15 the tunnel goes back, not sure how far, to a point where you can stand. It then makes a 90 and continues behind the falls, where it stops.
    • Jacob Emerick May 16, '15 Behind the falls? Dang. That would be neat to crawl back to.
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  • Mark Piotrowski Aug 16, '15 Spoke with the property owner, this was an exploratory shaft that, luckily for the falls, was unsuccessful. He said it goes back about 60 feet.
    • Jacob Emerick Aug 21, '15 Ah, interesting. Exciting that you got to talk to the property owner! Did he give you permission to visit the falls?
    • Mark Piotrowski Dec 26, '15 Just saw this post...yes got permission and visited falls...will be going public in near future...
    • Rick Brown Aug 5, '18 Since the June 2018 flood this route is impassable. Tried to find highland on the ridge and was unsuccessful. My advice is to try to get permission for the short route or find some other falls. Dead River Falls in Marquette is a nice hike. And the Presque Isle River hike in the Porcupines is excellent!
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  • Alan johnson Dec 21, '15 Used to rappal down into the gorge and a little bit of rock climbing. Yes, explored all the way to the back of the tunnel.
    • Jacob Emerick Dec 24, '15 Oh wow, that's pretty neat. Must have been very exciting to rappel down the gorge, with the waterfall (depending on the time of year) thundering down nearby.
    • Doug Bomberg Jun 19, '17 I have in-laws from Lake Linden who said last week that the property had been acquired for public use. Unsure of its current accessibility, but look forward to its reopening. My fiance speeks highly of it from her access decades ago.PS If in the area, seek permission from the landowner and see the Natural Wall only a mile or so further northeast. The Wall, Houghton and Hungarian Falls, and Bare Bluff (up Bette Grise) are all fantastic exposures of the Keweenaw Rift Fault.
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  • Paul Goode Mar 22, '18 I went to MCMT 1946 to 1950, and had the pleasure of skiing that area for 4 years. Our skis were wood with no metal edges. The Good Old Days.Add to this discussion
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  • Scott Brewer Jul 6, '18 Went exploring a few days after the June 2018 flooding in the Keewenaw to see the falls in full force. We had planned on walking down the rail-trail from Normand Rd and following the creek, but the rail-trail was severely washed out and required climbing down, across and back up a steep and muddy 50ft section that was missing. Once we did that we found they have already cut a rough road back to the falls for improvement and are running electricity back there. This service road is also severely washed out (the missing part of the rail-trail is actually part of it as well,) but there are improvements happening. Hopefully it's not more than another year that this falls is made safer and more accessible. You can actually see the road taking shape on google maps, though it doesn't quite reach the falls yet. Either way, in addition to the danger they already presented, be on the lookout for construction crews pissed you're trespassing and in their way now. Add to this discussion
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