Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
190.00 ft (57.91 m)
Trail type
1.10 mi (1.77 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Big Manitou Falls River Trail is a half mile long trail that leads to towering cliffs next to the Black River in Wisconsin’s Pattison State Park, Wisconsin. The end of the trail is a quarter mile downstream from Big Manitou Falls which is the tallest waterfall in the state of Wisconsin at 165 feet. It is also the fourth highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.

Parking for the Big Manitou Falls River Trail is located at a lot that is just south of the entrance to Pattison State Park off County Road B. To begin this hike across County Road B and head to the first viewing area for Big Manitou Falls. Continue following the fence line to the left; this leads to another viewing spot for the falls. The wide trail then moves away from the gorge of the Back River and makes its way through a forest of balsam fir, spruce, aspen, maples, and other hardwoods. That last portion of the trail is somewhat steep and has a set of stairs. The trail loses almost 200 feet of elevation in total.

The trail ends by the Black River with tall cliffs of sandstone and basalt on the other side of the river. This scenic section of the river can be explored downstream for another third of a mile or so. After taking in the beauty of the river, return the way you came.

Dogs are allowed on the Big Manitou Falls River Trail but must be kept on a leash that is no longer than 8 feet in length. Since the Big Manitou Falls River Trail is located in a state park, a fee must be paid to enter the park. A day use or annual permit can be purchased at the park office.

A map of all the hiking trails at Pattison State Park can be found here.


Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

State Park Day-Use Fee

Open Year-round



Scenic cliffs.


Bugs can be annoying.

Trailhead Elevation

977.00 ft (297.79 m)

Highest point

977.00 ft (297.79 m)


Near lake or river
Geologically significant
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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