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The Black River in Michigan


An idyllic wilderness river flowing through lush hemlock and hardwood forests, known for its spectacular waterfalls, rapids, and gorge-like terrain, has long been recognized as an invaluable natural resource.

Black River is one of Michigan’s premier brook trout fisheries. With its lowland tag, alders serve as ideal homes for more extensive, older brook trout.


Gogebic County in western Upper Peninsula boasts one of the finest waterfall scenes anywhere, featuring five cascades on a short stretch. The Black River winds its way through Ottawa National Forest, where old-growth pine, hemlock, and hardwood trees grace its banks. Tannin from hemlock trees gives this river its signature hue, and this region’s breathtaking beauty has attracted writers such as Ernest Hemingway as well as industrialists-turned-conservationists alike.

Great Conglomerate Falls are the highest waterfall on the river, consisting of several individual falls that flow together over a massive mound of rock. Unfortunately, their trail leads over stairs, which can make this trip strenuous for younger or less fit hikers.

Potawatomi Falls is another popular attraction, featuring two separate waterfalls connected by an accessible viewing platform. Additionally, their trail is shorter and less steep, making it suitable for families traveling with small children.

Black River Harbor recreation area is another must-visit, featuring ample parking and a spacious picnic area with river access across Lake Superior to Lake Superior Beach for relaxing or picnicking – or both! Relax after touring all of its stunning waterfalls by relaxing at this peaceful, relaxing beach secluded by trees.


No matter your method, the Black River provides ample opportunity for fishing enthusiasts of any stripe to bring home some big ones. Not only can you fish for trout here, but also Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, and Perch populations, as well as Lake Sturgeon populations, which support themselves without external help, not to mention being home to an endangered species such as Lake Sturgeons! Black River Harbor recreation area also boasts peaceful camping spots, picturesque hiking trails, and stunning waterfalls!

Be mindful that when traveling to the Black River, all anglers aged 17 or over require a valid fishing license. Regardless of whether you go alone or with a charter, all anglers 17 years old or older must possess such an authorization.

Fishing on the Black River is best during spring and summer when its waters are warmer, and it is easier to find trout. Fall can be challenging due to brook trout beginning their spawning cycle.

The Black River is famous for its abundance of muskellunge, northern pike, and yellow perch fish species; however, it should be noted that they contain high concentrations of mercury, which could pose health risks to consumers if consumed. To address these levels of contamination, the UBRC has made efforts to remove culverts and improve water quality; additionally, it works to restore riparian and wetland areas surrounding the river. Those wanting to avoid mercury contamination should only consume fish caught within state regulations for mercury concentration limits.


Black River Harbor Recreation Area is known for its stunning waterfalls, idyllic beaches, and scenic hiking trails that make for a fantastic year-round destination. There is also a day-use picnic area, a campground with 40 single-family campsites, and a suspension bridge crossing over Black River to Lake Superior beach sand beach; Tannin from Hemlock trees gives this river its distinctive color!

The North Country National Scenic Trail covers this recreation area and provides access to five waterfalls, as well as an enjoyable walk into Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Boating, fishing, swimming, and hiking are popular activities within its boundaries.

Fall Hall Glen offers an idyllic rustic campground just south of Black River Falls. Here, rustic cabins overlook a trickling stream, and acres of peaceful prairie can be pitched as tent sites. Relaxing to the trickling water flowing over the cliffs of Fall Hall Glen or fishing or hunting on nearby public lands is sure to ensure an unforgettable experience!

Michigan Recreation Passports are required for entry to state parks and forest campgrounds, boat launches, swimming areas, and some other facilities in Michigan. You can buy one online or at one of the Department of Natural Resources offices.


Black River Harbor Recreation Area is an idyllic summertime escape featuring a scenic marina, Great Lakes beach, day-use area, tranquil campground, and five separate waterfall-viewing canyons with trails leading through them. Additionally, this recreation area features scenic hiking trails, historic bridges, and picnic shelters – not to mention an array of outdoor activities and amenities!

Gogebic County in Gogebic River offers breathtaking waterfalls along its western section, which are lined with ancient hemlocks and northern hardwood trees, creating astonishing rocky banks adorned with impressive waterfalls. Hikers come year-round to witness their natural beauty.

For those not drawn to whitewater paddling, this stretch of the Upper Black River provides an unplugged acoustic set from their favorite folk singer. Its vast stretches of meandering are broken up by small(ish) riffles and mild rapids punctuated with spectacular rock outcrops – and with no development along its bank! At 1600 cubic feet per second (cfs), this trip can be delightful; at lower water levels, however, it could become challenging as some sections could become dangerously shallow.