Feel Alive at Dead River Falls

The Dead River is a wild forty-three mile river in Marquette County that flows directly into Lake Superior. Although one can view this river from many different places, the most exciting place to visit it is a mile-long adventure hike just outside of Marquette.

Nothing is dead at Dead River

This segment of river has a number of waterfalls- each just as alive and amazing as the last one. There are ten total waterfalls you can reach within a mile. Many of the drops are pictured here, but I sadly I cannot portray the full effect of this beautiful area so you will just have to go there yourself!

The hardest thing about this area is there is no paved trail, hence why I called it an ‘adventure hike’. This is definitely not a stroller friendly hike, unfortunately. However it is not impossible to take children- just keep on eye on them.  There are many well-traveled footpaths that run along the embankment, some are low and are usually pretty muddy so it is better to stick to the higher routes.

This hike is also a different kind of beautiful in the winter. Once it is cold enough (in late January, early February most years) an ice sheet has formed over the river and you are able to hike or snowshoe right on the river. Some of the waterfalls freeze over, some still run underneath the ice sheet. If you are one for snowshoeing, I would not miss this hike! (Just remember to use caution and making sure the ice is thick enough to hold your weight).

My Experience at Dead River Falls

I love the Dead River Falls, plain and simple. It is an exciting experience and never fails to disappoint me. The first time I went to this area was actually during the winter when it had frozen over and I was in awe. Then when I returned in the early summer I was I even more awe as I realized all the falls I had hiked over and the beauty of the area.

The hike starts at the Forestville Powerhouse, where there is plenty of parking. You can see a steep gravel hill, which you have to climb in order to get to the trail. Once you scale that hill you will see a sign and a wooden stairwell that leads to the trail. And by ‘trail’ I mean whatever pathway you choose to follow! You must go to the right (upstream) in order to get to the falls. There are a couple of times you have to cross streams, but there are trees or wood pieces placed across the creeks so a person can cross without getting wet. The first crossing is right at the beginning, and one is near the end. The last waterfall is about a five minute hike past the second crossing. You can climb out on the rocks above and below most of the drops to get right up to the water, which is my favorite part.

Depending on how many drops you want to visit, how fast you hike, and how many photos you want to take (which you will want to take some, I’m sure!) the time for this hike will vary. Last time I went I kept a fairly decent pace, stopped for photos at a couple drops and completed the entire hike from start to finish in an hour. For your first time out to the falls I would plan on 1.5 to 2 hours so you can take your time and enjoy the scenery. One last tip: bring mosquito repellent in the summer!

Bottom Line: If you want a scenic, wild adventure hike- Dead River Falls is your place to go. It is not out of the way and you can see so much within a short amount of time.

How to get there?

Assuming you are coming from Marquette on US41, you will turn right at the last stoplight before leaving town (this stoplight is at the entrance of Wal-Mart). This road is ‘County Rd HQ’ which turns into Wright Street.  You will take your first left onto Forestville Rd (there are signs indicated hiking on this route). Drive a little less than two miles on this road and you should end up at the Forestville Powerhouse. Park anywhere here and you should see the gravel hill I previously mentioned.

– by Marquette resident Amanda Schreiber