Finding Gooseneck Falls

travel log from

A suspect waterfall sits only a few miles east of Hancock, a hiking opportunity to good for Jacob and Logan to pass up. published on by

Trickling upper drops

While I had visited most of the waterfalls north of the Portage there was one I missed that gnawed at me, one drop that was mere minutes from Hancock. Gooseneck Falls is not located on waterfall lists or marked on topographic maps. The only hint I saw was a single, blurry photo of a woodland drop I found on a single web page. Guessing that it would be located on Gooseneck Creek from the context of the website I headed north to Dollar Bay with Logan on a weekday afternoon.

Gooseneck Creek flows down from the Houghton County Memorial Airport south to the Portage and just touches the eastern edge of Dollar Bay. There are several houses where it flows under M-28, complicating access from the south, so I drove north to where the creek flows under Forsman/Mason Cross Road. Parking near the bridge Logan and I went straight down to the creek and started downstream.

Old wooden dam

Old wooden dam

A small creek is hard to get excited about, especially near the end of a hot, dry summer. The water was just enough to wet the creek bed and trickle a bit over an old wooden dam. It was easy for us to walk in the creek and jump up on the grassy banks to skip over the stagnant pools. There are a few houses on Forsman/Mason Cross to our east, when the road takes a quick bend south, but we were far enough away on the creek to not worry too much about trespassing. The creek widened out about a half mile from the bridge, creating a large swampy area that forced us to make a wide detour through the woods.

Nasty swamp along the creek

Nasty swamp along the creek

Between respecting the houses and a wide circle around the swamp it took us about an hour to reach the upper drops, less than a mile into the hike. They were surprisingly tall, a smooth angle down worn sandstone, and the water just barely slicked up the surface. It was tough to get around them and not slip on the wet mossy slope.

Trickling upper drops

Trickling upper drops

A short distance downstream was a railroad grade, forcing us up and over to continue our hike. The top was rather used, probably for a snowmobile trail, and had a lot of trailers and junks nearby. I was a bit worried that this area was private land so Logan and I hurried back down to the creek on the other side. Another series of slopes lay below the grade, which probably made for an impressive, long waterfall, but was barely wet by the meager flow today.

Hoping to find a drop that narrowed enough for a single flowing waterfall we pushed south through thickening undergrowth. There were smaller drops downstream but none with an active waterfall. It wasn't until a house suddenly appeared a few dozen yards away that I realized we had walked all the way to Dollar Bay.

Smooth streambed downstream

Smooth streambed downstream

It was getting dark in the thick woods when we turned around and headed upstream. It was much easier to tackle the wet, mossy sandstone heading up the slopes, and we made good time back to the railroad grade. The upper drops and swamp did not sound like an appealing route in the failing light. We turned west at the railroad grade, hoping it would lead towards Arcadian Road. Unfortunately, this grade passed right past a large house with a 'no trespassing' sign posted facing away from us. The grade was on private property, but at least we were off it now.

Heading north on Arcadian Road, then east on Forsman/Mason Cross Road, we made it back to my car after nine. Moonlight lit the last half hour of the walk, not exactly ideal roadside walking conditions for a man and his dog. One highlight of this last segment was a horse pasture along the road, an animal that Logan had not met before. He was very curious, not the least bit scared, and I let him enjoy the unique smells for a long time before pushing on. It was a long hike with disappointing waterflow, but at least both Logan and I got to experience new today.

Trip Photos

  • Old wooden dam
  • Nasty swamp along the creek
  • Trickling upper drops
  • Trickling lower drops
  • Smooth streambed downstream
  • Calm, damp, mossy creek

Comments (0)

  • Add a comment
    • Basic HTML tags allowed (a, b, i, pre). Comments may be removed if they are deemed inappropriate.

    • or

Activity Stream

  • Created tag 0.4.1 at jacobemerick/comment-service-client.
  • Pushed some code at jacobemerick/comment-service-client.
  • Tweeted | Surprising how little time I spend coding as a software engineer - got a solid 30 mins of programming today and it felt downright luxurious.
  • Ran 3.04 miles and felt great.
  • Hiked 14.60 miles and felt great.
View more activities…