The Black River Scenic Byway is a 14-mile stretch of road that follows the Black River. There are 5 major waterfalls along this route with ample hiking opportunities available.
Great Conglomerate Falls
The first waterfall is the Great Conglomerate Falls. Thirty feet in height, it surges over a wide conglomerate rock formation. From the parking area by the road, it’s about 3/4 of a mile hike down a very steep hill.
Approximately 130 feet in width, Potawatomi Falls spans the entire width of the Black River.
Unlike the other waterfalls, there is a scenic site available for parking both Potawatomi and Gorge Falls. There is a picnic area and vault toilets. The area is very developed.
Gorge Falls is a 20 foot tall, 7 foot wide waterfall that squeezes through a small opening in a gorge, hence the name.
Access to Gorge Falls can be reached from the same parking area as Potawatomi Falls. It’s very developed, an asphalt trail leading to the view platform, just like Potawatomi. They are about 1/8 of a mile apart.
Sandstone Falls is a multiple drop fall with a total height of about 25 feet. It flows over sandstone rock, which is pretty neat to explore but very slippery. The hike to the waterfall from the Byway is a short quarter of a mile but is very steep. There are posted signs that say “Pace Yourself. Avoid over Exertion” throughout the trail. The worse places have worn stairs to help assist in the climb.
Rainbow Falls is the last waterfall (and tallest) on the Black River Scenic Byway before Lake Superior. It is a 45 foot tall waterfall and falls down into a rocky gorge. On sunny days, the mist from the waterfall creates a constant rainbow. It was very hard to see the full view of the waterfall from the overlook. A side angle view is best or climbing down to the base. In September this is a good place to watch as cinook and coho salmon make their upstream runs.
The hike to the falls is a half mile and it is another very difficult and steep descent. There are about 200 stairs leading you down to the waterfall. Again, be careful to not over exert yourself!