After taking the scenic route around WIS-13 and getting lost once or twice, I arrived at Pattison State Park where I camped for two nights. The park was fairly empty due to recent strong storms that caused great damage in this area a few weeks prior, but the campgrounds themselves were in excellent shape. Most trails were closed as well, but viewpoints of two key features were still somewhat accessible…
Little Manitou Falls
Located in the southern half of the park, Little Manitou Falls is one of the most photogenic falls I have visited yet. Even though main trails are closed you can still park nearby and walk right up on a short (but very wet & slippery) pathway. Quick sneak peek at the trail sign:
Walking up above the falls, there is a small ledge/drop that is likely larger than some other full waterfalls I have visited around the state. For this location, it can easily go unnoticed.
If you are careful, you can even climb very near the edge of the falls. From here you can really feel the volume of moving water in your chest cavity. With a 30 foot drop, these falls are anything but “little”.
Back on the main path you can climb down near the shore via large rocks – again I don’t recommend this, but if you go here be very careful as it is extremely slippery (but exciting)!
Best views in my opinion are back on the main trail just several yards away from the signpost. Normally the falls split around a center rock but water levels were so high it became one large flow.
The trail is closed and blocked by fallen trees not far from here, but you can still briefly catch a glimpse of rapids downstream on the Black River.
Big Manitou Falls
With an overall drop of 165 feet, Big Manitou Falls is the largest waterfall in the state of Wisconsin. I was able to see it from a nearby parking/picnic area, but the main trail and viewing platforms were completely blocked off due to storm damage. (Click any photos for a larger full-screen view – it’s extremely hard to see anything in these particular thumbnails)
The falls are so tall it becomes hard to photograph all in one frame. None of the photos really do it justice, but here is a more detailed view of the top section. For scale notice the fence/railings on the left portion and realize these are about 4 feet high.
Nature In Motion
Here’s a short video of both falls. Enjoy!
I would definitely like to return and hike all the trails in the park, but for now all I could do was walk from parking areas to main viewpoints. Little Manitou Falls stats below, not super exciting. Most people that can walk a set of stairs can access this area but it does become very slippery due to mist from the falls. Take caution as falling could hurt.
Big Manitou Falls is much easier to reach from the small picnic area. This viewpoint is (I believe) wheelchair accessible and very easy to find.Lat = 46.5349388 , Long = -92.1218567 -- Show at Google Maps