September 26, 2017
McCormick Wilderness Area & the West Branch Yellow Dog Falls
Upon approach, the McCormick Wilderness trailhead looks like any other. However, before embarking on your hike, you must leave detailed information about where you are going, how long you will be there, and your emergency contact information.
Why? Because the trails are unmarked and it is easy to get lost.
The isolated area known as McCormick Wilderness provides hikers with challenging hikes, alluring scenery, and best of all, no to few people. It is a place where a person who really appreciates nature can hike, undisturbed, on trails that barely trails at all. With rough terrain, stunning views, flooded trails, and old growth forest, this place is a hikers paradise.
And that’s not even mentioning the waterfalls.
The Yellow Dog River winds its way through a portion of this area. We followed the Yellow Dog Trail to the West Branch Yellow Dog River. Here one must ford the river. When we were here in August, the river was quite high and the current was very swift. We did not find any easy way to cross it and decided we would come back later and try again. Instead, we followed the West Branch River upstream to the roaring West Branch Yellow Dog Falls.
Measuring roughly 30 feet in height, this waterfall is quite the sight to see. At the bottom, water shoots out of a small carving between two rock faces. At the top, water races down over multi-level surfaces, and above that more drops in a small canyon cut out.
What could be better?
While this area is unbelievably beautiful, remember this is deep wilderness. Moose and bear are common. So along with a GPS system and/or a compass, a good first aid kit, and extra food and water, make sure you are prepared for any encounters with wildlife.
More details of the McCormick Wilderness can be found on the USDA Ottawa National Forest website.