Bayfield Waterfall

Strong overnight storms gave way to a colder, windy, and drizzling morning. This was a welcome change compared to the previous unseasonably warm temperatures. First stop of the morning was at a trail just east of the Bayfield Elementary School. There are no signs at this point but I think this is part of the Gil Larsen Nature Trail which leads down into a ravine via a well-constructed trail.

After a few switchbacks on the steep cliff, it’s easy to both see & hear the moving water below.

Looking top-down doesn’t give a very good perspective, however looking up from the bottom shows the elevation change much better. Overall this isn’t a difficult or very long hike to where I am going (but you can make it longer via a series of trails leading along the ravine both north and south).

Some sections of trail are hard-packed gravel and dirt, some are boardwalks, some are exposed rocks. You won’t be lacking variety!

About 3/4 of the way to where the trail crosses the unnamed stream is where you can best view the “main” falls, a series of rocky drops that bends around like a horseshoe. It’s hard to estimate total height because it could be measured different ways, but it’s clear to see the elevation dropping rapidly and I’d call it something like 10-15 feet.

The trail continues just a tiny bit downstream along the boardwalk and a set of stairs.

The second most pronounced drop is a smaller 5 foot descent that cuts through the rock in the very center.

Looking downstream, the elevation levels off and the already scarce water calms. Side note: I’m actually surprised how little water is flowing, given the overnight torrential rains; I figured this would be churning more than ever. You’ll have to time this one right to see any falls.

Here’s a look back up the trail to better show the stairs and wooden railings found in some spots.

As the stairs end you are dropped right into the stream, which at this spot is only inches deep. I had initially intended to walk upstream for better direct views, however…

On the other shoreline there is a small sign saying “FRAGILE AREA, PLEASE STAY OFF!” Photography is fun, but respecting the ecosystem is always top priority. Leave no trace if you venture here so the next generation can enjoy it as well!

And as the stream all but disappeared on the smooth rocks, it was time to head back up the hillside and move on. The day was still early and some difficult destinations lay ahead…what will I find next?


Here’s a short video of the scenery today. Overall this is a great place to come wander through nature and enjoy the peaceful scenery.

Hiking Data

Here’s the path to this area. Fastest access is by parking right next to the elementary school, though be careful to do this during non-school hours. There is more trails to the north as part of the Big Ravine Nature Preserve, and to the south is the Iron Bridge and Gil Larsen Nature Trail. I believe both run for several miles but I wasn’t aware during my visit.

As shown in the metrics, elevation changes over 100 feet in a very short distance. Overall distance down & up was only about 1/3 mile. It really isn’t difficult though due to the switchbacks and most people of relatively good health can do it. Take your time and enjoy the fantastic forest views.

Lat = 46.8151512 , Long = -90.8179092 -- Show at Google Maps

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