Ocqueoc Falls in winter

winter_falls_lowresWe have a dainty-sized gem very close to Long Lake: Ocqueoc Falls. The entrance is off M-68, between Onaway and Rogers City, not far from Millersberg. It’s actually the largest waterfall in the entire lower peninsula. OK. OK. My son says that Somerset Mall has a larger waterfall, but he’s enjoyed this spot so much more than any mall’s falls. In summer, the spot at the base of the falls is much more tame and very good swimmers can have a very good time. But this is winter.

On December 23rd, we trudged through about 10 inches of new snow, wishing we’d brought our snowshoes. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the falls. There are pit toilets at the lot. I rate pit toilets on a hospitality scale and in winter most of their marks go way up. But, in addition to being clean and not smelling like you needed to hold your breath through the duration of your visit, the women’s toilet was: (a) unlocked, and (b) had toilet paper. So, that’s an A+. But I digress. It’s a short walk to the falls. In the winter you are spared noticing that the state of Michigan decided to spruce up the path a few years ago and you don’t have to be distracted by the fact that you’re on a man-made walkway. The changes did make the park ADA compliant, though–so that’s a big plus.

No one was here but us. It looked like one person, and several deer, had walked through the snow before us.

Pure Michigan. For real. Here’s a taste of the sounds of the falls:




Ocqueoc Falls

ocqueoc_fallsOcqueoc Falls is just about the only honest-to-goodness, rootin’ tootin’ waterfall in Michigan’s lower peninsula.  The total descent is about five feet.  Downstream from the main part of the falls, the rock walls are about 20 feet high.  And it is only about 35 miles from Hillman.  We’re not talking Tahquamenon here,  but this mini-waterfall is beautiful in a quiet non-Upper Peninsular way.  In the fall, salmon make their way upstream for spawning.  Haven’t seen that yet.   Children who are good swimmers with about 8 years of height on them love to play in the pool at the base of the falls.  I’m (probably) too  much of a grown-up to enjoy that.  I might slip on the slick rocks and skin my knee.  I might trip on the boulders getting to the base of the falls and end up needing stitches on my noggin.  I might…I might try it some time.  When no kids are around to laugh at my timidity.