The Dead River Falls is easily one of the best waterfall adventures that the Upper Peninsula has to offer. A set of sudden plunges in a rocky gorge about a half mile in length sits just outside of Marquette, dropping close to a hundred feet in total, making a destination that is accessible and incredibly scenic. Even with a large dam upstream diverting some of the water for power, there is plenty of flow over the falls throughout the year.
The lower drops are all small cascades surrounded by dramatic rock cuts and outcroppings. Dirt paths network along the path, providing plenty of vantage points for these drops before heading up a steep bank before the first main drop (also known as Stoney Mill), a split set of blocky cascades over well-worn volcanic rock. A tall, direct plunge is a short distance upstream, forcing the river into a narrow chute before emptying it into a deep canyon. There is one more drop, beyond deep, calm pools, a jagged cascade squeezed between two large mounds of rock.
Turn north onto County Road 492 (Wright Street) from US-41 on the west side of Marquette.Head left on Forestville Road (should be marked with some recreational signs) about .6 miles after leaving 41. Keep on Forestville Road, over the one-lane bridge, for about 2 miles. Stop at the parking area within view of the old power station, near the outhouse.
Head up the hill on the wide trail past the stump that says 'Dead River Falls'. Turn left at the trail marker and follow the footpath down to the riverside. Lower rapids are downstream a short distance. Head upstream to view the main waterfalls. The worst part of the trail is just past the tiny creek and up a steep hill. Also, if you want to view the uppermost waterfall, continue past the tall 'bridal veil' plunge, past the deep calm pools that bend the river sharply to the south. Total hike from parking area is less than a mile along well-traveled, but rugged, footpaths.