Bond Falls: Get your feet wet in the scenic Upper Peninsula


PAULDING, MI — Want to get up close to a waterfall?

There are many waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, including a scenic spot on the middle branch of the Ontonagon River called Bond Falls.

At Bond Falls, the river cascades over a large block of bedrock into a shallow pool accessed by a boardwalk with several viewing platforms.

Steps take visitors around the perimeter of the waterfall which, in high flow, tumbles over rocks and tree roots just inches from the footpath.

MLive reporters Garret Ellison and Sheri McWhirter, and photographer Cory Morse, visited Bond Falls via Western UP on Friday May 20 on a reporting trip. Morse and Ellison flew drones over the falls, capturing unique video of the state’s scenic spot.

The falls have upper and lower sections. The site was designed with concrete spreaders to widen the river as it flows over the impressive lower falls.

The falls are man-made; the result of the damming of the river in 1940 to create a 2,200-acre reservoir, or “flow,” in Yooper lingo, which empties into the falls via a weir.

The reservoir was built for the nearby Victoria Hydroelectric Generating Station, according to a Michigan DNR visitor sign. The reservoir covers the submerged remains of an old sawmill town named Calderwood, which “hindered” the growing reservoir and was purchased “buildings and all” in the 1930s.

The Upper Peninsula Power Company operates a small, basic, rustic-style free campground near the falls with sites available on a first-come basis.

The falls are near the town of Paulding along US 45, an unincorporated community in Ontonagon County famous for the mysterious nocturnal “Paulding Light,” which folklore attributes to paranormal causes. The mystery was solved in 2010, when students from Michigan Tech University demonstrated that the light was the result of a natural optical trick caused by automobile headlights on a specific stretch of US Highway 45.

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