Tahquamenon Falls River + Lower Falls Loop Trail Run

River Trail + Lower Falls Loop Trail (North Country Trail segments)
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Trailhead Elevation: 645 ft.
Distance: 6.2 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 1179 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 7:05am
End Time: 8:30pm


Trip Report:
Went for another early morning on our trip across the U.P. of Michigan. It was relatively cool this morning and so I went with a long-sleeve running shirt and shorts. On the plus side I had clear skies and the sun was on its way up. I got out of the trailer and headed for the trails just after 7am.



I had numerous possibilities of trail runs here at Tahquamenon Falls, the easiest of which would be to run a segment of the North Country Trail. Not 100 feet from our camp site was an easy trailhead for the NCT heading east. I considered this but it was heading more into the unknown at an early hour. I could drive to one of the many other trails in the State Park. I opted for the other easy choice, hop the NCT heading west through the park. This involved picking up the NCT as it worked through the campground and then through the Lower Falls area. I only ran into a small handful of people at this early hour. I snagged some fantastic pictures along the way. The NCT then becomes the River Trail which travels from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls along the Tahquamenon River.


I didn't see a single person along the River Trail at this morning hour. As I left the boardwalks and headed onto the River Trail proper I immediately hit a muddy area and a heavily rooted area. These would be early indicators of the difficulty of this trail run. It doesn't take long and the trail also heads up and over a modest hill before leveling out along the river for most of the way. There were of course the occasional ups and downs along the river including several small staircases.



It was a beautiful trail and you could always see the river and hear it with a handful of sections having rapids. It was a technical enough trail I was forced into a walk at several points. As I could tell my progress was going slowly I decided that a smart turnaround point, rather than trying to make the entire way to the Upper Falls, would be the half-way point at mile 2 on the River Trail. The last half mile to this turn-around was through some fairly thick brush. I was saying my prayers none of it was poison ivy. I was about 45 minutes in at the turn-around.

Thick brush along the trail

On my way back I made it to the boardwalks again and then quickly found the cut-off for the Lower Falls Loop Trail that runs by Hemlock Camp. This was about 1.3 miles long but it bypasses 0.4 miles of the Lower Falls area. This trail ascended a hill and ran a ridge for awhile when it then hit Hemlock. It then wound its way back down to the Lower Falls. Great signage along all the trails today and easy to follow. No real views on the Loop Trail but it was, aside from the hill climb, a relatively easy and less rocky and rooted trail to run. I was back to camp by 8:30am.


Track:
I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk).

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