Alder Falls, Michigan

It can definitely be an adventure trying to find waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Upper Peninsula is a complicated, interconnected set of roads, many unpaved and often very narrow. This can lead to a lot of confusion, as was the case with Alder Falls. While the directions were entirely correct, there are just so many dirt roads that it was hard to be sure that we were even on the right road, which we had gotten to only after already turning around twice.

But once you get to the falls, you will be pleasantly surprised. As with many other waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula, the walk to the falls is surprisingly short but steep. You have to have very good hiking shoes to go and visit Alder Falls. The beautiful falls, which is larger than I thought, can be viewed from both sides of the river, though viewing from the right side (based on the picture) does require crossing the river. I crossed on a log above the falls and luckily did not get wet.

Directions:

  1. From Marquette, head north on Co. Rd. 515, aka Big Bay Rd. You’ll be heading toward Big Bay.
  2. After heading north for more than 20 miles, you’ll come upon the village of Alder, which is hidden. There is a road on your right, County Road KS, that you will pass.
  3. DIRECTLY after passing that road, there will be a road on your left, the Alder Creek Truck Trail. Turn left here.
  4. The road forks. Take the left fork.
  5. Go for about 0.7 miles down the single-lane dirt road. On your right, you’ll come to a “parking area”, and you’ll notice a trail heading downhill.
  6. Head down the trail and explore for the best view of the falls.

Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Alder Falls in October 2009

Where in the World is Alder Falls?

Dead River Falls #1, Michigan

I’ve already posted about Dead River Falls #2, so this is a check that post out to read more about the second falls. The first waterfall, at least the first major one you’ll happen upon, is pretty. #2 and #4 on the river are even better, though. You’ll still end up passing falls #1, so enjoy the scenery. (Falls #3 isn’t as exciting.)

While I say the others are cooler, I still was pleasantly surprised by the first falls. I had read about the falls elsewhere, and the people seemed less than enthusiastic about the falls. From certain viewpoints, the view is not that great. From other vantage points, it’s much better. Follow the directions I’ve given here to see the better viewpoint, where you’re much closer to the falls.

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: ~6′
Length of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip (you could see this one without going to the other falls)

dead-1

Dead River Falls #1 in May 2009

Where in the World is Dead River Falls #1?

Dead River Falls #2, Michigan

I was totally and completely surprised to find such amazing waterfalls on the Dead River. The Dead River is in Marquette County, and the waterfalls are only about 3 or 4 miles from downtown Marquette. I found out about Dead River Falls from the book “199 Michigan Waterfalls.” In the book, the authors didn’t seem too enthusiastic about the waterfalls. In later editions, they noted that there were more waterfalls beyond, though they still didn’t seem to enthusiastically recommend visiting them.

When I showed up, I was at first disappointed because the first waterfall you see is nice, but not the most exciting. It’s the second and fourth falls that are the main attractions. When I stumbled on the 2nd falls, the one shown below, I was really taken back. It is a very wide waterfall, and it had a lot of water flowing over in early May. This falls is the easiest of the falls to view up close. I was standing directly in front of the falls on an island in the middle of the river. It was so beautiful! (Falls #1#3, and #4 are available at these links.)

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
Height: ~15′
Length of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip

dead-2

Dead River Falls #2 in May 2009

Where in the World is Dead River Falls #2?