Huron, W.Br., Michigan, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-IV(V) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||100 fpm|
|Max Gradient||141 fpm|
Put-in is from a logging road on river-right 0.4 mile upriver of Black Creek Road bridge. (Or, if
that is impassible, right at Black Creek Road bridge, skipping that warm-up drops up there.)
Take-out is at a logging road 1.5 miles upstream (south) from Skanee Road.
Both accesses may be sketchy in early season (late-winter/early-spring).
This run is characterized by many short ledgey-drops, and a couple fine falls.
A fine photo-essay of West Branch Falls is available at Waterfalls of the Keweenaw.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.7||Black Creek Road / USGS sampling site||N/A|
|1.7||Confluence, Robarge Creek||N/A|
|3.6||West Branch Falls||N/A|
|6.7||Big Ericks Bridge||N/A|
A fair part of this stream is obscured from view of the online aerial mapping, which limits identifying all the features down this run. Therefore, do not rely on the following to be anywhere near complete or accurate description of this run.
About 1/3rd of a mile of paddling (starting with just current, building to low-grade rapids) brings you to what appears to be (on aerial maps) a falls. Immediately downstream, it appears you encounter a brief series of ledges which are typical for rivers in this area.
A second falls/ledge-sequence quickly follows.
If the logging road to our marked put-in is inaccessible, there is great parking and access at this bridge, and action starts pretty immediately with a brief series of (perhaps three) typical Huron River ledges.
Not far downstream (on the aerial maps), "Lower Leatherby Falls" is (mis-)marked at an area which appears to be nothing but light riffles.
USGS lists a sampling site here noting drainage area as 10.8 square miles.
A home on river-right signals another ledge/falls.
From river-right, a pretty fair-sized tributary enters as the Huron zigs and zags. Just downstream, a fine ledge sequence is encountered.
Good low-grade rapids continue to a ford (stream crossing) which signals a couple more significant ledges just downstream. About a quarter-mile beyond, as the river hooks sharply right, one more short ledge/drop awaits.
Just a couple slightly larger ledges -- no biggie. Action quickly subsides to easy tripping water.
A brief lull after the prior combo leads to some fine tripping action.
A series of slightly more significant ledges as the river sweeps to the left signal the approach to West Branch Falls, which occurs as the river hooks back to the right. A few more good (lesser) ledge-drops occur shortly downstream.
Only a brief paddle brings you to a tighter constriction (might bear a scout!) which is followed by great action leading down past another house on river-right just as the river does a zig-zag left then right before the action eases up for a bit, passing a house on the left. Keep an eye out as you proceed downstream, as you are nearing our listed take-out.
From our listed take-out, it is an additional 2.4 miles to Erick Road. While there are some riffles and rips, there are no significant rapids or drops. So, while Big Erick's Falls could be a fun finish for your run, it's hardly worth the extra distance.