Montreal River – MI/WI Border

Seize the day, but if God’s plan is for tomorrow you must wait for it with patience, and seize it again. – Yours Truly… NMS

This beach (more like a shoreline) is at the border between the great Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the state next to it… Wisconsin I think (no offense intended). When you look at the shoreline pics I’ve taken, you can immediately tell which way is Yooperland and which way is WI. And I’ve made a public album with many pictures from this place, which you can view here, or click on the photos.

Joking aside, this is a really neat spot. Not a great beach for swimming, but a highly recommended destination for anyone traveling through the area. This is the very first beach on the beautiful UP coastline of Lake Superior (from the West), and the Montreal River itself defines a portion of the Wisconsin – Michigan border. The river mouth is the UP’s (and Michigan’s) westernmost point. Some Wikipedia details of the Montreal River:

  • It is approximately 40 miles (64 km) long
  • Drains approximately 270 square miles (700 km²) in a forested region
  • The Ojibwe name for the river is Gaa-waasijiwaang, meaning “where there is whitewater”
  • Begins at Pine Lake in the town of Oma in eastern Iron County in northern Wisconsin
  • There are four named waterfalls on the Montreal River. Starting below U.S. Route 2 and going downstream, they are Peterson Falls, Interstate Falls, Saxon Falls, and Superior Falls.

As you enter Michigan from Wisconsin’s highway 122, the road becomes Lake Superior Road (or CR-505) – see more direction details at the bottom. Round a corner and a sign points the way to Superior Falls down a gravel road to the North. The first parking area is by the Superior Falls Hydro substation owned by EXCEL Energy (and previously owned by Northern States Power Co.) On a chain link fence hangs an obscure sign indicating where the viewing area for the falls is located. A short trail leads to a fenced-off cliff with spectacular view of the Superior Falls below. It looks like this.

Farther up the road (which heads downhill) is the second and final parking area – for the Montreal River Scenic Overlook & Access Trail. The trail heads downhill briefly before a fork in the path offers two good choices. The path to the right heads to a scenic overlook where Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands are visible, as well as the spectacular shoreline heading East along the UP – next picture.

The path to the left heads downhill at a very rapid descent and consists of roughly poured cement to help prevent erosion, however the trail is steep enough that it better not be the first exercise you’ve had in a while… The path leads out to the lake and a rocky beach near the base of the cliffs stretching down the shoreline. The expanse is a very beautiful sight well worth the walk down and impending trek back to the parking lot. It’s really neat, but for a beach – not so good… It’s not quite a beach for swimming. The rocks are somewhat slippery and difficult to walk on in the water. The water temperature is fairly good for Lake Superior though, due to the river water in the vicinity. Kayakers would have a splendid trip along the shoreline and up the river to the waterfall. A trail also follows the river up to the pool below the falls. The view isn’t as good as from above, but adventurous persons could take a swim out to the falls and enjoy the tumbling water firsthand. A hint for anyone debating use of the staircase near the powerhouse to get back up; it’s not a good idea. Near the base of the falls are the following views… This first one shows the cliff where the first pic of Superior Falls was taken from.

An interesting thing happened while taking these pictures, as a gust of wind swept my oh-so-important beach ball off the shore and out into the river where it quickly blew across to Wisconsin. I got it back though.

*** Updated: My friend Kristin came with me to this beach. I asked her to summarize the trip, and here is her account:

“The Montreal something or other. I remember thinking that Nils had made the name of this place up… because wasn’t Montreal in Canada? And I quickly dismissed the name from memory, as I commonly do with names of places. I like to name places myself; this place, to me, held too many characteristics to be stapled down by a name. There were waterfalls and rounded fences edging cliffs. There were sharp rocks and twitterpated frogs. There was a slight, ball-robbing wind and there were stairs, yes, many stairs behind a “No Trespassing” sign. Nils and I were quick to interpret that sign to mean what was truly intended: “Please Cross Over this Chain Only If You are NOT an Idiot.” And I thought, well, I’m probably not an idiot, and I know Nils is not an idiot. So we climbed the stairs and were greeted by a fence. Super, I thought. Super duper. But Nils climbed the fence. A side note here: I am a runner, and as such, I do not believe it is acceptable to climb fences. It is, however, acceptable to pull yourself under them like a sneaky little weasel. I did so. Proud of my digging and crouching and shimmying, I beamed at Nils with a proud stance. I found myself itchy and Nils later explained that I had crawled through a patch of poison ivy. Gold star. Maybe I was an idiot, after all. But at least I did not lose my beach ball to a quiet wind from… from… some direction. Ah, yes. It was a great day to be alive.”

For some extra bits of information, I shall provide a link to this map, and a link to the shoreline viewer. This stop is actually on the famed Lake Superior Circle Tour, as Co HW 505 / Lake Superior Drive is part of that route. Coming from WI, the road heads North from US-2, and is called HW-122 for the first 4 or so miles until the border. In any case, the road is well marked. The other end of this road is in Ironwood, MI where it connects again with US-2.

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