PELLSTON, Mich. (Michigan Back Roads) – The “100 Steps Gorge” offers natural splendor and a unique hiking experience.

The gorge is located on Route C-64 between Pellston and I-75 just a few miles south of the Mackinac Bridge. This is a beautiful drive through wooded hills during the color season, especially if you are rolling east from the Tunnel of Trees.

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If travelling west from I-75, you will go through a Biological Station established by the University of Michigan. Keep alert for a small turn off on the south side of the road marked by a sign and split rail fences. This is the parking area. The parking area serves as the trailhead for a trail that follows the edge of the canyon and a separate trail that leads down into the gorge.

Little known outside the immediate area and missed by most motorists, this is a great stop to see rare beauty and build an appetite for later. The name “100 Steps” is appropriate. At the edge of the parking area steps begin the descent into the canyon gorge. There really are 100 of them, and the way is very steep. No worries, because the effort is worth it.

At the bottom, you enter a pristine wilderness crisscrossed by clear running streams. The streams are formed by springs that bubble right out of the hillside. An interesting phenomenon occurs here. There is a 15-degree temperature change from the top of the steps to the bottom. Even in winter it is 15 degrees cooler down in the gorge than it is up in the parking area.