On one of our first dates in the summer of 2006 Katie and I visited Hungarian Falls. She was vaguely familiar with the area so we only found one or two dry waterfalls on our date. It was a nice trip but a short one, and I left thinking little of the area.
With its close proximity to Houghton and armed with more detailed information I decided to try it again. We headed north to Lake Linden with Logan on a weekday evening after work. There had been a lot of rain this summer so far so I had high hopes to see some decent water flowing.. We parked off of Golf Course Road, at the north gated road, and headed in towards Dover Creek.
We turned left at the dam. The research I had done had given me spotty directions at best, though I suspected that there was a waterfall upstream of the reservoir here. The dam's retaining pond isn't very large so it didn't take long to reach the far side.
There was an upper drop. It's fairly tall and sudden, an eight foot drop over volcanic rock, it just didn't have a lot of water flowing. A few streams pour over, some barely wetting the rock, others slightly splashing on their way down. I checked upstream just to make sure this was the uppermost drop and saw a flat, even creek stretching away, so we turned and backtracked to the dam.
The dam has two outflows: a cement plunge and a cement chute. The plunge is closest to the paths and was bone dry today. We passed it and headed over to the chute, which held a trickle of water emptying out over a small stone face. Apparently the reservoir swallowed up almost all of Dover's Creek flow, leaving little for the downstream drops.
Downstream and over a wooden bridge brought us to the next waterfall, a stepping drop over flat slabs of sandstone. There were railroad ties laid across the creek at the top of these falls, providing us an easy way across. Barely any water trickled down here, enough to give the moss and rock a faint sheen of wetness and cause some bubbles in the stagnant pool below. We continued on, disheartened.
The next waterfall was more impressive, at least in height. A bowl-shaped gorge opens up in the creek's path with the water plunging down around 15 feet down. It was hard to get down into the bowl but worth it, the narrow flow of water chuting down and splashing into the pool underneath. A tiny crack of a cave opens up near the base, letting you almost crawl behind the curtain. While the flow may not have been much the rock formations were cool to check out.
Oddly, the trees were starting to let more light in further down the creek. I wasn't sure what to expect until we stepped out onto the edge of an incredible sight. Like a blown up version of the last waterfall, a huge, deep valley opened up in front of us, hundreds of feet in size. Torch Lake was plainly visible in the distance, as was the lands around Bootjack beyond. The last, largest drop of Hungarian Falls poured down the steep sandstone wall, emptying onto huge boulders far below us. This was way more than I had expected.
Black flies were starting to annoy Katie and Logan. I wasn't about to turn around yet, not with this new discovery at my feet. They headed back to the vehicle along the trails while I headed downstream, following the edge of this deep gorge. When the grade started to lessen I started down, using the trees and undergrowth for handholds along the way. It was a tricky walk, the soil baked rock-hard on the valley sides. When I reached the bottom I immediately headed to the base of the falls, climbing over and around the huge boulders. The wall soared high up above me, a glimmer of water shimmering on the sandstone.
After a time I turned and headed downstream. lI wasn't sure what I looking for. There were a few rapids down here that hid the water under piles of rock, plus a dry wall on the south wall that promised another impressive site under wetter conditions, but there were no more waterfalls. After spending too much time in the thick woods I headed back up the gorge wall. Black flies and mosquitoes must have been attracted to my thrashing through the green below because they came out in larger numbers now, following me all the way back to the vehicle. By the time I returned to Katie and Logan I was just as ready as they were to head back home and turn in for the evening.