Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Photo of State Natural Area Photo: Thomas Meyer

Houghton Falls State Natural Area
Thomas Meyer

June 2012

Wisconsin, naturally

Houghton Falls

Notable: A scenic gorge cut deeply into reddish-brown Precambrian sandstone along the Lake Superior coast at Houghton Point is the highlight of this 76-acre nature preserve. An intermittent stream meanders through the site, cascading over exposed bedrock before descending 60 feet into a sandy cove flanked by dramatic lakeshore bluffs. Upstream is Echo Dells, a series of water-carved cliffs and caves interspersed with small waterfalls. Hemlock, yellow birch, white cedar, mountain maple, balsam fir, red pine and white pine provide a cool, shady environment. Canada yew, a shrub decimated elsewhere by browsing deer, finds refuge here on the mossy, inaccessible cliff walls. The understory harbors blue-bead lily, bunchberry, long beech fern, thimbleberry, wood sorrel and small enchanter's nightshade. This stretch of unfragmented Lake Superior shoreline supports many resident and migratory birds including merlin, least flycatcher, black-throated green warbler, winter wren, wood thrush and Canada warbler. The natural area is owned by the Town of Bayview and was acquired with funding provided, in part, by a grant from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

How to get there: From the intersection of Highway 13 and County Highway C in Washburn, go north on Highway 13 2.9 miles, then east on Houghton Falls Road 0.5 miles to a parking area. A trail leads through the site to the lake. Visit Department of Natural Resources and search "Houghton Falls" for information and a map of the site.