Black/Hills Creek


Access to this area is made easy by the Michigan Nature Association’s Black Creek Nature Sanctuary.

A dynamic river system, the Black Creek and Hill Creek confluence is an opportunity to observe rapidly changing morphology of river channels.  The disequibrium of this system comes from the disturbance by mining materials, stamp sands which were funneled down the Hills Creek from mines in the Ahmeek area, within the Allouez Gap. This stamp sand represents substantial sediment input which creates extensive deposits that disrupt the flow of both Hills and Black Creeks and make the coastal confluence of the two rivers  very changable.  This is an interesting and instructive area to visit. It represents another example of mining waste disposal where the stamp sand deposits are unstable and get constantly redistributed. The stamp mill that produced the Hills Creek sand is near Ahmeek, more than 3 miles upstream. The stamp sands have been moving down Hills Creek for many decades and are still moving now. The area is an interesting contrast to the Owl Creek Sands, where the stamp sands are stable.

Hills Creek

Black Creek

Hills Creek


Hills Creek and its tributaries received voluminous stamp sands, milling waste from Allouez #3 and other nearby mines from 1869 until  1923 as a separate company, and then was absorbed by C&H. These sands filled the deep valleys of Hills Creek, which had been eroded into a glacial outwash fan which descends from the Allouez Gap to the shore 3 miles NW.

The largest and most northerly of several stamp sands in Hills Creek is near the earliest mill site.  The “Red Sands” here reflect the conglomeratic ore and contain a buried forest, from the mid-1800s.

Hills Creek has continued to flow since the end of stamp sand dumping for several decades and this has resulted in redistribution of the sands which can now be found in several residual deposits near the outside of meander loops in Hills Creek. The sands was carried all the way to the big lake, where it has been spread along the shoreline for miles in both directions.

Old Mill Site

Red Sands

Several post glacial lake shorleines may be traced along the coast near Black/Hills Creek Santuary.  The most prominent of these is the 9000 yr old Minong Lake remnant at ~690 ft.

The complexity and instability of the shoreline at the mouths of the Hills and Black Creeks in shown below. This spot can be readily visited via Sanctuary trails.