The Humble Waterfall of Houghton

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Jacob learns about a waterfall within the city limits of Houghton along Huron Creek and drags a few friends for a disappointing urban adventure published on by

Half-melted Chutes and Ladders

While the waterfall plan had evolved over the last year my location had not. Whether the goal was to find all the waterfalls in the Keweenaw or pinpoint the coordinates of every drop on every river, I was still driving from Houghton. Distance was a big factor in my adventures. Even though I was living in the heart of the western Upper Peninsula there was still a lot time invested in just driving around. And gas money. So when I bumped into an online thread describing a waterfall by Wal-mart, within Houghton city limits, I was shocked.

The moment I found out about Huron Creek and its drops I made plans that afternoon to explore them. Calling up Faith and Cory, the usual hiking partners, Katie and I headed out to pick them up and make the short drive to Chutes and Ladders. The creek empties into the Portage here, pooling first in a small reservoir, so we made an obligatory stop here to take some pictures.

Half-melted Chutes and Ladders

Half-melted Chutes and Ladders

Dead grass was already starting to show through the melting snow. I was surprised to see that the small reservoir at Chutes and Ladders was not covered by snow and ice, leaving the small dark pool open to the sky. With the end of the creek visited it was time to head upstream. Our next stop was a short distance up the hill at Hillside Restuarant. Katie had already written off this expedition as ridiculous and stayed in the car as Faith, Cory and I jumped over the railguards and went down to the creek.

We found plenty of small drops over loose rocks between Hillside Restuarant and Canal Road, though none worth the stop. Running next to the M-26, there was a lot of litter along the sides of the creek. Combining that with the busy highway above and the meager drops Cory and Faith were also starting to lose interest in today's expedition. This was nothing like our usual forest hikes miles from civilization.

Rapids below the highway

Rapids below the highway

I convinced the two to give this creek one more chance. We circled back to the car and Katie and drove all the way up to Wal-Mart. I parked us by a then-closed Asian restuarant and we got out. Well, Faith and Cory did. The three of us looked over the parking guard and saw a solid wall of white snow surrounded by thick trees and loose rock. They had no desire to hike down there. I headed down alone, taking a few forlorn pictures of the covered waterfall (or at least what I hoped was a waterfall).

There was one more spot to check out. Below Wal-Mart the creek is contained in a deep man-made ditch past numerous little restuarants and shops before entering a little wooded section. After this section was the bottom leg that we had already checked out near Hillside Restuarant, meaning that we were basically covering every inch of this creek. I drove us over to a little health complex and parked at the edge of the plowed parking lot.

It took a bit of talking, but I got Faith and Cory to give this last spot a shot. We headed over to the piles of snow and hopped over and down to the creek. And we finally saw some decent drops. Maybe ten feet tall in all, over a mix of blocky volcanic rock and some old rock walls, but it was a waterfall. This was also in a more residential area and the proximity of some of the backyards made us uneasy. We quickly turned around and went back to the car.

Snowy, rocky creek

Snowy, rocky creek

The fact that there was a waterfall, or series of falls, right in Houghton had been too much for me to ignore. Even if the afternoon had been a bit of a disappointment, at least I could hold on to that. We had visited the city falls of Houghton. The four of us went to Gemignani's in Hancock for dinner that evening, trying to forget about the 'adventure' of Huron Creek Falls,

Trip Photos

  • Dam on Huron Creek
  • Half-melted Chutes and Ladders
  • Rapids below the highway
  • Snow-covered drop
  • Wide pond below the falls
  • Snowy, rocky creek
  • Icicles hanging off the rocks near the falls
  • A small, even drop
  • Huge rocky crag above the creek

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