Documenting all love stories near or far

Shelby Jane

September 29, 2022

Guide to Waterfall Elopements in the Midwest

FILED IN: Elopement, Travel

If you & your partner are more on the adventurous side & looking to possibly elope by a waterfall in the Midwest, you’re in the right place.  There are so many beautiful waterfalls throughout the Midwest that make for the perfect spaces for your elopement day.  As you plan your waterfall elopement though, there are a number of things that you will want to think through.  In this blog we will go over some of my favorite locations in the Midwest with waterfalls, discuss things to think about when planning your waterfall elopement & much much more.

Planning Your Adventure Elopement

Though there typically is less planning for an elopement than a traditional wedding, there is still a lot that goes into planning one!  When planning an adventure elopement it is important to make a game plan so that you are completely aware of the logistics that go into your elopement day.  The more you plan the more likely your day is to go off without a hitch & create an overall great experience for you & your partner on your wedding day.  Here are some things to think about when you begin planning your waterfall elopement.

What Kind of Experience Do You Want for Your Waterfall Elopement?

This is a super broad question but an extremely important one as you begin to plan your waterfall elopement.  There are so many different locations throughout the Midwest with waterfalls, & the experience of being near them & getting to them is completely different depending on which location you decide on.  When choosing a location in the Midwest for your waterfall elopement, you will want to ask the following questions:   How challenging of a hike do I want to have on my elopement day?  Who do I want to come with? How much time do you want to spend hiking on your elopement day? You will also want to go over marriage ceremony logistics.

Marriage Logistics

When you begin the planning process you will want to first start by looking into the marriage laws in the state you plan to elope in. Do you need an officiant?  How far in advance do you need to apply for your permit? How many witnesses are needed?  I can act as an officiant or witness, but in most Midwest states I cannot act as both.  If you plan to elope in a state that you will need both you will want to either plan to bring a family member or a friend as a witness. If you do end up needing a family member to come along as an additional witness keep in mind their hiking ability & what they’re able to do as well.

Do you want to have your legal marriage at the waterfall or are you flexible with where you make things official? Having your legal marriage done before your waterfall elopement can be a great option & alleviate a fair bit of stress when planning your adventure. That way we can focus on the hike & just the two of you rather than making sure all the pieces are in place for your marriage to be official.

Who Do You Want to Come With?

When choosing a waterfall in the Midwest for your elopement location, you will want to make sure that you think about who you want with you when you say I do.  If you want some family with you, you will want to take into account accessibility & what each of your family members are capable of hiking. Keep in mind that the more people you want to bring along typically the easier the hike will have to be unless your family & friends are all avid hikers. If you want to keep things simple keep the guest list low if you decide on having guests attend at all. Remember you can always celebrate your marriage at a later date with a family get together, so going as just the three of us is a great option!

What Season Do You Want to Have Your Elopement?

You will also want to make sure you think through your trail’s accessibility in different seasons & their weather conditions. Use alltrails to do research on when popular trails are open & what kind of hiking tools you might need in different seasons. Keep in mind that the weather in the Midwest varies a ton & can change in the blink of an eye. Plan your elopement day accordingly so that you know what you are getting into when it comes to the weather & typical trail conditions. One last thing to look out for is whether or not your chosen trail is only open at specific times of year, & if so plan your elopement for that season!

What to Bring to Your Waterfall Elopement

Now that you know what kind of weather & trail conditions you’ll be dealing with for your Midwest waterfall elopement, it’s time to pack for your adventure. Pack your hiking boots & some appropriate clothing for the weather. Keep an eye on the forecast leading up to your elopement day & pack accordingly. Depending on how long your hike is you may want to hike in your normal hiking gear & change into your wedding attire once we reach the waterfall. Where there is water there are also unfortunately bugs, which is why you will want to make sure you pack bug spray for your hike. Water & some food are musts as well to keep you fueled for our adventure.

Midwest Waterfall Locations for an Elopement


Hocking Hills State Park

Upper Falls to Lower Falls, & Old Man’s Cave are both located in Hocking Hills State Park near South Bloomingville Ohio.  The Upper Falls to Lower Falls Trail is a moderate trail, & also a fairly popular trail!  The trail takes most hikers around 30 minutes to complete & this is also a dog friendly trail, which makes it such a fun trail for your elopement!  With the popularity of these trails, I highly recommend going on a weekday during the school year or hiking earlier in the morning so you can have the space to yourselves. Old Man’s Cave Trail is an easier trail & is only about a half mile.  This trail is perfect if you want to bring family members that cannot easily travel long distances, if you want to elope surrounded by a larger group, or if you want less of the focus on the hike itself. 

Brandywine State Park

The Brandywine Gorge Trail in Brandywine State Park is a moderately challenging 1.4 mile loop trail in Northfield Ohio.  Brandywine Gorge Trail is a popular waterfall trail known for its easily accessible path & beautiful waterfall.  The Brandywine Gorge trail is a great option for couples who plan to elope just the two of them on their elopement day or if they plan to bring along some guests that are more hiking savvy & down for the adventure. 

Beach City Wildlife Area

Near Dundee Ohio, the Dundee Falls Trail is a moderately challenging two mile out & back hike.  This beautiful trail is filled with SO much nature & trail A actually has three waterfalls throughout the route that are all just as breathtaking as the next. With its longer distance & more challenging terrain this trail is definitely best done with as few guests as possible unless they are avid hikers as well. Opt for getting the legalities of your marriage out of the way beforehand so we can hike the trail & focus on the adventure & your photos.


Matthiessen State Park

Located near Oglesby Illinois has a beautiful waterfall & stream.  This trail is moderate in terms of difficulty & is a fairly popular hike.  The canyon where the waterfall is located does take a large number of steps to get down so you will want to make sure any witnesses or guests you bring along will be able to handle the hike. It’s also best to plan your elopement around a weekday or early in the morning if you’re looking for a more intimate & personal elopement experience.

Starved Rock State Park 

Though these waterfalls have been fairly dry the past couple of years, the trails are still made up of beautiful canyons that do still occasionally have a trickle of water running through them in the spring. While Starved Rock state park is an extremely popular state park, you can still have an intimate experience by going in the morning for a sunrise elopement.  The French Canyon Trail & the Lasalle Canyon Trail are two of your best bets for true waterfalls in Starved Rock State Park & are 2.5 miles & 2.3 miles out & back respectively.


Turkey Run State Park

Trail 3 at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana is one of the coolest & most peaceful trails for a Midwest waterfall elopement.  Though a very popular trail, this moderately rated two mile loop trail has you fully immersed in nature & soaking up everything you could possibly want for your intimate elopement. It’s moderate difficulty & the slightly longer loop can be a bit challenging if you’re not used to hiking so plan accordingly when deciding on if you plan to have guests attend.

Williamsport Falls

Near Williamsport Indiana is a beautiful fall on an easier 1.6 mile loop trail.  The waterfall itself is just a short walk from where you park, so to get to the waterfall you only have to go out less than half a mile.  In terms of accessibility, this is one of the most accessible waterfalls in the Midwest for an elopement & is a perfect option if you’re hoping to have some guests present during your elopement. The hike itself is beautiful as well after the waterfall so you can continue on while your guests head back after the waterfall if you’d like.

France Park Falls

This very small waterfall in Indiana is the perfect place for you & your honey to slip into nature & tie the knot just the three of us.  Located in Logansport Indiana, this moderately challenging route takes about a half hour to complete, & is a fairly popular trail. You can still enjoy the 1.4 mile loop with a more intimate feel though if you plan your hike around the morning or a weekday & avoid some of the other hikers.


Tettegouche State Park

The Baptism River Trail, the Kennedy Cliff, & Sawmill Dome trails are some of the coolest trails in the Midwest for waterfall views & elopements. Located up near Silver Bay Minnesota, the trails are well maintained & for the most part considered moderate trails. Plan your adventure accordingly though as northern Minnesota can get impressively cold in the fall & early spring. If you plan to go during these seasons, pack some layers!

Gooseberry Falls

The Fifth Falls & Silver Creek Township Loop trails are easier routes & are very accessible for hikers of all levels.  The massive falls consist of upper & lower fall trails, & the park makes for a relaxing elopement experience. They are some of the more popular trails in Minnesota though so plan to either go during off days or know that there will likely be other hikers around while you’re eloping. If you do go during off times of the day though during the week having the falls all to yourselves is truly amazing!


Munising Falls Trail

Located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore the Munising Falls Trail is a 0.4 mile out & back trail is considered an easy route.  This route does not let you get up close & personal with the falls, but it is still a pretty route & an easier waterfall to reach for your elopement. This is a great option for those that plan to have some guests attend their elopement, especially if hiking really isn’t their thing!

Wagner Falls Lookout

Also considered an easy route, the Wagner Falls Lookout route lines beautiful paths & canyons to reach it.  Located in Munising Michigan these falls also do not allow you to get up close & personal but you can still see them from the trail. Another great option if you plan to have guests attend your elopement & be there when you say I do.

The Great Conglomerate Falls Trail

Near Ironwood Michigan, & located in the Ottawa National Forest, the Great Conglomerate Falls Trail is just one of MANY beautiful waterfall trails throughout the Ottawa National Forest.  The Great Conglomerate Falls Trail is an easy rated 2.5 mile out & back trail filled with endless nature & beauty.  You are able to get down to the falls weather permitting, but you will want to make sure you have proper shoes when making your way down to the falls.


Willow Falls Trail

Willow Falls State Park located just outside of Hudson Wisconsin is an extremely popular & easy rated out & back trail.  The just over two mile trail is the perfect low key hike for your elopement.  This trail is EXTREMELY popular though so I do suggest if you plan to elope on the falls at Willow that you plan to have a sunrise elopement to avoid the crowds.

As you can see there’s a ton to think about when planning your waterfall elopement in the Midwest, & SO many options for the falls themselves! If you’ve got your heart set on a waterfall elopement but & you need a photographer I’d love to be a part of your day. Head to my contact page here so we can start planning your adventure together!