From gushing bursts of water to serene, multi-level cascades, Big Bay’s waterfalls are the sparkling reward after a beautiful hike among the trees. The rushing water washes away your stress and bathes you in nature’s beauty. With Lake Superior, Little Dog River, and several other bodies of water, it is no surprise that Big Bay offers several stunning hikes to waterfalls. Strap on your hiking boots and set out to these waterfalls, because these wild hikes just might be the highlight of your trip to Marquette County! 

"Falls" signage pointing the direction of Big Pup Creek Falls in Big Bay, MI

Little Garlic Falls 

A little known, but popular hiking spot among the locals, Little Garlic Falls are a series of small drops (less than 15 feet) along the Little Garlic River. The moderate hike offers switchbacks along the water and in some spots, you will be totally surrounded by trees. There are two ways to hike Little Garlic Falls, the short two-mile round-trip hike or the longer, eight-mile round-trip hike. For the shorter hike, start at the Little Garlic Road trailhead. If you are game for a longer hike, you can park at the Elliott Donnelley Wilderness Tract trailhead. You are headed in the right direction if you see a rugged campsite. The trailhead intersects with the North Country Trail, which begins in Vermont, so be sure to congratulate any long-haul hikers you see! 


From Big Bay, about halfway between Big Bay and Marquette, turn right on to Little Garlic Road (unpaved), before crossing the Little Garlic River. After about two miles, you will see the trailhead. Length: 1 mile long. Difficulty level: Medium. 


Alder Falls

Alder Falls is one of the tallest and steepest waterfalls in the area--at almost 30 feet high--but the hike is well worth the trek! Shaded by a dense hemlock forest, the wide and powerful waterfalls provide you with a peaceful retreat among mother nature. From the top of the trail, it’s a downward hike, which means you should be prepared for an uphill climb to get back. As the falls are on private property, make sure to respect the “No Motorized Vehicles or Litter” sign for the trail itself. It’s also a great site for brook trout fishing. 


From Big Bay, turn right on to Alder Creek Truck Trail before crossing Alder Creek. After about 50 yards, turn right on to the truck trail. After about half a mile, you will see parking and the “No Motorized Vehicles or Litter” sign on the right. Length: ¼ of a mile, 20-30 minutes. Difficulty level: Medium. 


Yellow Dog Falls

Nestled in the wilderness near Big Bay, Yellow Dog Falls is a 1.5 mile out- and-back hike that's well worth the effort. The falls cascade over rugged rock formations, creating a tranquil scene surrounded by the dense forest of the Upper Peninsula. The clear waters of the Yellow Dog River flow gently, inviting visitors to relax and appreciate the natural beauty of the area.


Head southwest on County Rd 510 toward Superior Ave. Continue on County Rd 510 for approximately 6.9 miles. Turn left onto AAA Road. After about 0.2 miles, turn left onto County Rd 510. Drive for about 0.5 miles until you reach the Yellow Dog River bridge. Look for a small parking area on the left side of the road near the bridge. This is the trailhead for Yellow Dog Falls. Park your vehicle and follow the trail downstream for approximately 3/4 of a mile to reach Yellow Dog Falls.


Hikers note: To keep these waterfalls pristine for others to enjoy, stay on marked paths to avoid erosion and damaging plant and animal life, and carry any waste out with you. While hikes to the falls range from easy to difficult, remember that Big Bay offers a rustic wilderness experience often without facilities or nearby restaurants so it is important to be prepared. Always be aware of your surroundings.