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Pinnacle Falls Preserve

Originally on Anishinaabe land, this iconic falls on the Yellow Dog Plains is one of the highest on the river, a remote gem that rewards adventurers determined to find it. The approximately 1-mile trail from the parking area is steep and rugged, bordered by towering red pines and mixed hardwoods. The cascading waterfall within a deep picturesque gorge is bounded by high bluffs affording a view of the river as it pours over the edge. The exposed rock of the 25 to 30-foot falls is composed of Michigamme Formation bedrock granite, which also can be seen in the rock cliff that rises 150 feet to the wooded pinnacle giving the falls its name.  The pool at the base is about 7 feet deep, the cold water and force of the cascade making for a bracing swim in summer months.

Timbermen built a dam and chute at the top of the falls in the 1880s, of which remnants remain. Gathering logs on the bank and freeing the water during spring thaw to propel them downstream, they sent timber from the Yellow Dog Plains to Lake Independence for processing and shipping.

Remnant of the nineteenth-century dam at Pinnacle Falls. Photo by John Anderson.

YDWP purchased 40 acres surrounding the falls in 2003 through a successful fundraising campaign. James and Barb Kidder donated an additional 240 acres in 2017, increasing the Pinnacle Falls Preserve to 280 acres, which includes land on both sides of the river. It is protected through a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy.

Recreational Uses: Hiking, fishing, birding, swimming, and blueberry picking are all permitted. Camping is allowed more than 300 feet from waterways, trails, and parking area. Mountain biking is not permitted, except on roads. Motorized vehicles are not allowed, and there are no groomed ski trails.

Access: There is a small parking area at the end of the access road. A foot trail with an informational sign at its midpoint, enters from the north and leads to the falls.

Driving Directions: From County Road 550 coming from Marquette, turn left on County Road 510 before reaching Big Bay. After about 3 miles you will reach the intersection with County Road AAA. Continue straight on the AAA (CR-510 turns left). After roughly 6 miles, turn left on a small two-track with a sign for Pinnacle Falls. Stay on the well-used road and pass the M.J. VanDamme truck depot, after which the road narrows. There are wooden signs at intersections pointing to the falls parking area.