On Not Seeing O Kun de Kun Falls

Yesterday afternoon I decided I’d reward myself for the work I got done on Saturday by taking a hike somewhere in the area that I hadn’t explored yet. I settled on O Kun De Kun Falls, a waterfall about an hour north of here in the Upper Peninsula. (The odd name apparently comes from an Ojibwe chief.) The information I could find on it described a level 1.3-mile hike each way to see the falls, and although it was hot outside (mid-eighties, hot for here!) walking a couple miles on a shady, easy forest path seemed doable enough.

Unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be a shady forest path.

When I got to the trail head and started out, I found myself walking through an open, brushy, recently-logged stand of trees. It was sunny. It was hot. I got sweatier and sweatier without seeing any signs of entering a more intact forest. That’s not to say there wasn’t wildlife around – I got great looks at a Broad-winged Hawk and a Blackburnian Warbler and heard several other warbler species singing despite the afternoon heat, I found old wolf scat in the trail, and there was a lot of insect activity in the daisies, clover, and other flowers blooming along the trail.

Orange Sulphur
Aphrodite Fritillary

But when the trail entered what was basically a clear cut, I gave up and turned back. It was just too hot to be worth it when my walk was taking me through such disturbed, ugly-looking terrain. Maybe sometime when the weather is nicer I’ll go back and actually make it to the waterfall. Until then, O Kun De Kun Falls remains a mystery.

5 thoughts on “On Not Seeing O Kun de Kun Falls”

  1. I believe that the logging trail you show cuts across the footpath that really is mostly through thick forest. I’ve been to the falls twice. The first time I thought I was at O-Kun-De-Kun Falls only to later discover it was an upper drop on the river. The second time I made it to both of the falls and the smaller drops down river from the “main falls”. You need to go back again. It really is worth the hike! I’m just posting one of my shots of the “main falls” on Facebook at my “Waterfalls of Michigan” page. You may enjoy seeing many of the wonderful U.P. waterfalls there!

  2. We had a most incredible experience showshoeing into O Kun de Kun falls last Wednesday. There is a well used logging road that starts at the falls parking lot. With a closer look, you will also find a short path that connects to the North Country Trail hiking trail which takes you 1.4 miles to the falls. In the winter the falls is ice covered. We carefully stepped down the snowy slope passing iciclces clinging to the rock ledges of the gorge below the falls. We found that we could enter into a hole in the ice surrounded by icicles at one side of the falls. The entrance to the passage led us behind the falls. The ceiling of this ice cave behind the falls was covered with the most beautiful delicate frost stalactites we have ever seen. We were careful not to disturb them for the next visitors to see and marvel at. The back side of the falls was also ice covered. We could see and hear the rushing water flow down between the inner and outer layers of ice. It really was a magical place to marvel at nature’s winter beauty. In a way, I do not want to tell too any people about the winter falls, for but it was just to beautiful to keep to myself.

  3. We were going to the falls and walked and walked. I guess we missed the trail not well marked. Ended up in the forest on a logging road. Turned back and made it to the car.

  4. Do not take the logging road. Instead, walk across the logging road from the parking lot and find a short path that leads to a North Country Trail sign. Follow the North Country Trail about a mile and a quarter to the falls. At one point you will cross the logging road. Here are a few pictures that I posted on Flickr.

    O Kun de Kun falls.

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