Take a hiking trip to O Kun-de-Kun Falls!
Okundekun Falls (O Kun-de-Kun Falls) are located within Ottawa National Forest, on the Baltimore River. Notably, the trail is also a part of the North Country Trail system that spans several states from New York to North Dakota. If you’re looking to find these beautiful falls, you will need to head to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and head to Bruce Crossing. The O Kun-de-Kun Falls trailhead is approximately 8 miles south from there. There is a small parking area right off US-45. It’s a relatively easy hike to enjoy one of the tallest “plunge” type waterfalls in Ontonagon County. Definitely well worth the almost 3 mile round trip hike there and back.
The Ottawa National Forest trail has been revamped by NPS.
Jess and I first visited this amazing spot in 2015. Since then, we have explored many spots in the Porcupine mountains. But, not until this year did we make the trip back to O Kun-de-Kun. We were met with quite a different trail than we remembered. A year back (or so), it seems the National Park Service has been busy here. The entire trail has been revamped! Our feelings on this are mixed. While, it was nice to enjoy an easy hike in the forest. The romanticized memories within us kinda felt that this newly routed groomed trail took away some of the sense of adventure we experienced on our first trek through these woods.
Regardless of our memories of the trail to the Baltimore River, the NPS did accomplish this… It is now much easier to navigate your way through the beautiful forested trail. This should allow more people to enjoy the scenery that this remote and somewhat wild waterfall offers.
Finding the O Kun-de-Kun Falls trail is easy!
Entering the parking area off of US-45 (at coordinates 46.647125,-89.175727), about 8 miles North of Bruce Crossing. You’ll find that there is rarely more than one or two cars there with you. Especially during the week. This is definitely one of the charms of hiking in the Western UP. Oftentimes, when you are in the wilderness… You can actually imagine what it was like to be alone in the woods in times past. Aside from the newly groomed trail, you will experience that here.
The North Country Trailhead to O Kun-de-Kun is well marked.
As you begin the trail, you will be greeted with a few signs. First is the North Country Trail sign which explains a bit about the very cool NCT and where it can take you. Next is the obligatory (and important) warning on how to help mitigate invasive plants from spreading. The other signs are purely information providing direction to the waterfalls and other notable locations nearby.
Enjoy the beauty of Ottawa National Forest, right from the beginning.
As you begin to head down the trail, you are immediately immersed within the forest. Really, there’s not much else in the area, except for forests. Which is why we love it so much! As you can see, the trail is flat and groomed with a bluish gray gravel raised a bit from the natural forest floor. The benefit being, it allowed both Duncan and Anoush to walk side by side with their mommy.
The ground can get saturated but, that “problem” should be fixed now.
Where the ground has the propensity to get a bit saturated with water in the wet season. As you meander toward the falls, you’ll find a wider boardwalk in the wettest sections, which will keep your feet dry and protect the forest’s delicate root systems. Here I will admit a comfortable improvement over the 2×4 plank system that they had in place here before.
Enjoy a variety of hardwood and Aspen on this beautiful terrain.
As you meander down the path heading toward the waterfall, you will be greeted with a variety of forest types. You’ll find the forest comprised mostly with Aspen and interspersed with mixed hardwoods. There is a slightly hilly terrain, which poses little challenge and offers a beautiful landscape. While admittedly, you’re not going to find virgin forest as found in the Porcupine Mountains (that I am aware of), this forest is worth enjoying every bit as much as the destination. We found the trails here surrounded by lush, green, thriving trees and dense undergrowth.
Last stop on our journey… The O Kun-de-Kun Falls!
Once you arrive at the Baltimore River, you’ll find a suspension bridge leading to the other side, and to the right, is the main attraction. The water wasn’t super high when we were here so, we were able to navigate the flat rocks to get a closer view of the plunge. When we were here last time, the water was much higher, and we would have had to drag our equipment into a risky proposition of getting wet… To obtain the shots we got this time around. Below, is a finished product, and a short video clip! The first “good” photos we’ve managed to take of this amazing scene.
We sincerely hope you enjoyed our tour of the Okundekun Falls trail! Be sure to keep scrolling to find other resources about this area, and the Upper Peninsula.
Get trail conditions at the National Park Service website for O Kun-de-Kun Falls.