McClure Dam Falls on Dead River

roaring chute below a large Dead River dam

Downstream plunges
  • Steep outcropping on the south bank
  • Downstream plunges
  • Gated dam
  • Looking down at the plunge
  • Across the curtain of water

McClure Dam and reservoir is the middle impoundment on the Dead River and easily the most dramatic. Tall hills swoop up around artficial lake and sharp rock outcropping shoot up from the water, creating a rugged landscape not usually found in the midwest. When the dam is overflowing water slides down evenly along the cement dam, forming a smooth curving curtain. Even without the overflow a black pipe shoots a heavy stream of water over cement near the bottom of dam, rewatering the rocky riverbed below.

Near the bottom of the dam the Dead River flows over jagged rocks and deeply carved chutes to form a narrow little plunging waterfall. McClure Dam Falls is difficult to view directly, being closed in such a narrow chute, but the deep roar and spraying water can be seen from the rocky sides. More rapids are located downstream of this drop.


Take County Road 502 from US-41, a right turn about 2.5 miles west of Marquette, up to County Road 510. Stay on 510 for 2.5 miles before turning right on Neejee Road. Neejee Road is a winding dirt road on the north side of McClure Basin with a lot of sidetracks leading off to various housing areas. Stick to the main road for 1.2 miles before turning right on McClure Storage Basin Road which will take you to the dam in .9 miles.

The dam is gated off with chain link fence. Head down the steep hill below the dam, veering towards the water, following any of the multiple footpaths that take you down to the bottom of the dam and the Dead River. McClure Dam Falls is located within a stone's throw from the dam. Upper Dead River Falls and Trestle Falls are located downstream from here and are well worth the hike.

Comments (2)

  • Mark Piotrowski Jul 8, '14 The road to the Dam is now marked private, access, though strenous, may be available going upstream from Trestle Falls.
    • Jacob Emerick Jul 9, '14 Oh no! That was a nice spot, right next to the reservoir. Like you mentioned on the other page, the other access point would be on the end of Neejee Road where it hits the tracks. That'll take you right to Trestle Falls (the most impressive drop along this stretch).
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