Apparently I chose to punish myself today with difficult and uncertain hikes along the North Branch Pike River. At least for this trip I know a waterfall exists. From my last stop at Road 517 I went north to the next easternly road with no name and parked in the pullout area.
Be aware this unmarked two track road ultimately leads to private property which is clearly posted. DO NOT TRESPASS! Immediately to the left of this sign there is a large parking area so stop here and go no further.
From here I headed south across the road and into the woods along the river. If you are going to attempt this, be aware there is no formal trail and you have to bushwhack your way through the Marinette County Forest land. Density of the forest is highly variable including high stem count thickets, dense cedar groves, grassy marshes that are taller than I am, and highly biodiverse deciduous forest. This is DIFFICULT.
Even though your trek will be hard, that does not mean it won’t be rewarding. Leaves are changing to spectacular hues of red and orange in some spots. And if you are interested in natural sciences like silviculture and ecology there is a trove of diversity here in a very small area.
Regardless which route you take, as long as you follow the river south and listen for moving water it’s hard to miss. Look for a bridge that crosses above the falls and onto private property (but don’t cross it, remember no trespassing!).
On the bridge there are some wooden boxes halfway across. This is a case where I can’t find the laws surrounding a situation like this, however to me the common sense approach is that 1/2 belongs to the public side and 1/2 belongs to private. I only kept on the public side to take a couple quick photos. You can see there are some large shelf-type rapids above the main falls which are all covered in algae. From a distance you can see the falls but better views await downstream.
Welcome to Bull Falls (Blanchette Road). We are referring to it by road name because there are several Bull Falls in our state so it helps keep them identified easily. Probably the best view you can get from the ground is where the river bends 90 degrees just below the top of the falls. Any closer than this and you’re going for a dangerous swim so be careful!
Photo above is with my phone to show the wide angle. Here’s a more detailed shot with my main camera that can capture better resolution. I’m sad to say photos were rough due to lighting and the general area/terrain itself so this is about as clear as it gets.
The entire section of the falls below that 90 degree turn are difficult/impossible to photograph from land due to the rocky shoreline dropping precipitously. There is nowhere to stand and the thick brush obscures everything. Here’s a view from much further downstream where a large flat rock sticks out just far enough for me to use my “selfie stick” type device over the edge.
At the very bottom of the long slide section is one last small shelf type drop. I can’t even estimate the overall drop to this point – definitely 10 feet, maybe 20…could it even be 30? Hard to say for sure.
From The Sky
Everything I have read indicates drones are allowed at this location (or at least there is no ordinances I can find preventing it; UAV Info & Disclaimer – follow the rules!). That flat rock up above and the 1/2 accessible bridge area gave pretty good launching points so I took to the skies and had a closer look. Further downstream I did find one final shelf-type drop that concludes this overall section. Could this be the “Three Foot Falls” I was previously looking for? Heck, I don’t know anymore…
Upstream a couple hundred yards is a small rocky island which the river splits around resulting in multiple drops and rapids. The area to the left of the photo looks much depeer than the right side, possibly caused by some dead trees blocking it to the same effect as a beaver dam (though I don’t think this is the action of beavers here).
And just 100 yards or so upstream from the island is the bottom of Bull Falls. You can see how it is a combination of a long slide and several individual drops as it rambles down. Again this one is very hard for me to estimate the size – from the sky things look deceiving, but if you use the trees on the shore like measuring sticks (and remember to include the top section) it’s probably at least 20 feet.
Here’s the view further up the falls to show more detail on the individual rocks underneath. Some spots are shelves, some are a slide where the river carved through, and some are just large rocks where the water crashes over. Very cool.
One final look towards the top of that bottom section to show a more close-up detail. I’m dissapointed that I didn’t take more/better photos (and in fact the last several are video screenshots which tend to lose some clarity. That’s OK – I guess I’ll have to come back some other day and get better images while I search for easier paths.
Here’s a video of the area and the falls. Admittedly this isn’t my best video work with the drone but you still get the overall idea. Sunlight and shadows were harsh, someday I’d like to return when it’s overcast for better results.
My route for this adventure isn’t what I would call efficient, nor would I call it the “correct” route to copy. It worked and that’s all. If there are better routes leave me a note in the comments so I can get there easier next time. The journey on this one is no fun.
Distance is only about 0.6 miles each way depending on your route. Elevation change is minimal. Note my speed on the charts – this tells most of the story. It’s a slow trip so plan accordingly.Lat = 45.5960503 , Long = -88.1213989 -- Show at Google Maps