Eastern Region Viewing Area
Male fern, Dryopteris filix-mas, grows on rocky ground near the trail. Photo by M. Curran.
Maidenhair spleenwort, Asplenium trichomanes (left) and Back’s sedge, Carex backii, along Cascade Falls upper trail. Photo by Susan Trull, Ottawa National Forest.
Waterfall on Cascade Creek. Photo by I. Shackleford, Ottawa National Forest.
Cascade Falls Hiking Trail and Wildflower Viewing Site
Region: Eastern Region
Forest: Ottawa National Forest
District: Bergland Ranger District
Description: The Cascade Falls area is part of the Trap Hills, a volcanic-origin range with open rock balds and cliffs, scenic vistas, a history of copper mining, and documented rare plant populations. The trail system here features an upper segment, fairly steep, accessing open rock above the forest, and a lower segment through rich mesic forest. The two trails meet up and a third segment runs from the intersection to a cascading waterfall on Cascade Creek, just upstream of where it joins the West Branch Ontonagon River.
Wildflower viewing: On the lower trail in mesic hardwood forest, North Woods spring wildflowers may be seen, such as springbeauty (Claytonia caroliniana), trilliums (Trillium cernuum and T. grandiflorum), hepatica (Hepatica americana), dogtooth violet (Erythronium americanum), and hairy Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum pubescens).
On the upper trail, rock-associated species may be viewed, including Back’s sedge (Carex backii), maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes), red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), rock polypody (Polypodium virginianum), and northern spikemoss (Selaginella rupestris).
Flowering shrubs are also visible along the trails, such as thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), serviceberry (Amelanchier species), northern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), and downy arrowwood (Viburnum rafinesqueanum).
In the upper trail area, astute observers may be able to see two Michigan special concern ferns: fragrant woodfern (Dryopteris fragrans) and male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas). Note that collection of plant voucher specimens is not allowed unless a permit has been obtained from the Ottawa National Forest.
A plant checklist for the Trap Hills region is available from Ottawa National Forest offices.
Safety First: Sturdy footgear with good tread is recommended. The lower trail is frequently muddy and the upper trail is steep. A boardwalk stretch near the creek may be slippery. Insect repellent may be desirable, especially for mosquitoes and black flies in spring. Hikers should check themselves for wood and deer ticks (the latter may carry Lyme disease). There are no restrooms or water available at the trailhead. Cell phone reception may be poor.
Directions: From Bergland, Michigan, travel east on Michigan Highway 28 about 1.25 miles. Turn north on Forest Road 400. Follow this road to the northeast about 7.25 miles. Turn east on Forest Road 468, marked as the Cascade Creek turnoff. Travel about 0.3 mile to a parking lot and the trailhead. See map.
Ownership and Management: USDA Forest Service, Ottawa National Forest, Ontonagon Ranger District.
Nearest Town: Bergland, Michigan.