Big Iron, Michigan, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||28 fpm|
|Max Gradient||52 fpm|
|Big Iron Approximation|
|virtual-130824||250 - 1000 cfs||II-III||00h32m||~ 50.64 cfs (too low)|
|Likely too low for reasonable whitewater run. Virtual gauge approximates flow based on relative drainage of Big Iron versus W.Br.Ontonagon. Correlation is not assured|
Location: White Pine to Silver City
Shuttle Length: 6.1 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: Innumerous small ledge drops in a fairly uniform-width channel.
Drainage area at put-in: approximately 97 square miles.
Put-in is approximately 760' elevation.
Take-out is approximately 600' elevation (Lake Superior, mean level).
Thus total elevation change is approximately 160'.
Reach consists of alternating sections of short bedrock ledges, rapids and moving water. Most of
this bedrock breaks diagonally (rather than perpendicular) to the flow, making for some
interesting running! One quite significantly bigger drop, Bonanza
Falls, comes at 4.5 miles into the run and may easily push into class
IV- territory at higher flows.
Good photos of the falls are available online at:
The resolution on Google Maps for this area is excellent. Therefore, we highly recommended going to the 'Map' tab, clicking 'Satellite', zooming in to the maximum resolution available (without losing image), and doing a 'virtual walk' of this reach!
Those seeking a longer run may wish to put-in about five miles upstream of White Pine (if the logging roads are passable for access).
The (rather smaller) Little Iron lies immediately to the West of this run, and may be a great
'companion-run' (if they prove both to be at runnable levels) or the Big and Little Iron
runs may be 'fall-back' runs for each other in the event one is too high (or low) and the
other may be runnable.
There are also runs nearby on the W.Br.Big Iron and Mineral River. Accessing these rivers (as with the aforementioned upper section of the Big Iron) may require navigating the maze of logging roads in the area, many of which are not seasonally maintained. This will likely stymie any early spring attempts at access, but should allow later spring or early summer runs.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|1.2||USGS sampling site||N/A|
Do not let the near total absence of marked/named features deter you from exploring this run. While it is not nearly as challenging as many U.P. runs, with the right flows, this should be a great change of pace and a lot of fun in its own right.
USGS lists a sampling site at this location with drainage area of 98.1 square miles.
Described as "60-foot-wide falls consisting of two separate drops spaced about 200 yards apart. The upper falls drops about ten feet; the lower about three feet."