Dead River Falls #4, Michigan

There are some waterfalls that I’ve visited where I’ve had high expectations, and it’s not that I’m terribly disappointed, but not I’m not always sure what the attraction is. On the other hand, there are other waterfalls where my expectations are very low, and I am overwhelmed when I finally see the waterfall. There are two very impressive waterfalls on the Dead River right near Marquette.

I wasn’t expecting much because of the description I read in the book about Michigan waterfalls. I hadn’t seen any pictures, so I really didn’t know what to expect. The first waterfall is not that exciting, but wow, the 2nd waterfall is truly amazing. I wasn’t sure whether to keep walking along, but I did. The 3rd waterfall is small, but I decided to keep going. There was one turn along the trail where I suddenly realized that the 4th waterfall was going to be spectacular. It was early May, and the amount of snow melt created a great surprise. The waterfall is maybe 30′ tall or so, but the amount of water flowing over the falls was amazing. This group of waterfalls isn’t advertised that much, so you’ll likely be alone.

Also, I should mention, if I haven’t already, that the trail leading to the falls, while not terribly dangerous, would be best described as precarious at a few specific points. At one point, you’ll be hugging the dirt trail that is only feet from a river that is flowing VERY fast, at least in May. If you’re not careful, you’ll be carried away by the very swift current. As long as you’re paying close attention, I think you’ll be ok.

Directions:

  1. From US-41/M-28 in Marquette, you are going to turn at Wright Street near the Target and Taco Bell.
  2. Drive a short distance to Forestville Road, and take a left.
  3. Continue driving on that road for about 3 miles. You will curve left at one point and end up at a dam/power plant. (As a note, Reany River Falls is only a few yards from this parking lot.)
  4. From the parking area, head toward the bathrooms. You will see a trail leading up the side of a hill underneath power lines. Head up that trail.
  5. There is a sign pointing to the falls. You can follow the sign and it will get you to the first waterfall.
  6. From there, continue upstream. You will have to climb up a hill, which was moderately steep. It will help to follow the sound of the river. From the top of the hill, you should be able to find the trail leading to the other falls. The trail hugs the river.

When I visited in 2011, access to these falls was closed. After visiting in 2017, I can confirm that the trail has been reopened. I had hoped that maybe the trail had been re-routed to avoid some of the steeper parts of the trail, but that’s not the case. Please exercise caution when visiting these falls.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 1.1 miles round-trip

dead-4

Dead River Falls #4 in May 2009

Where in the World is Dead River Falls #4?

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