Trestle Falls on Dead River

dramatic waterfall below a giant railroad trestle

Gushing upper drop
  • The dark downstream swamp
  • Gushing upper drop
  • Trestle against the blue skies
  • Trestle Falls
  • Lake Superior in the far distance
  • Across the train tracks
  • Steep cliffs to the south
  • Snow covered rocks around the falls
  • Lattice work of the trestle
  • Green, murky water of Dead River

Trestle Falls is among Marquette County's most impressive sights and is also one of the least known waterfalls. The LS&SI railroad crosses an steep river gorge here, reaching over to a sheer rock cliff that rises up impossibly high above the water. Below the towering steel trestle the water pours over a two-tiered drop, the first a narrowing slide into a deep gouge in hard, exposed rock and the lower a tumbled slide tortured by giant blocks of rock. Below these falls the river calms down, entering a sluggish swamp for several miles before entering a more famous set of falls in Marquette.


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 after .9 miles.

The easiest approach is to head directly to Trestle Falls, passing by the dam. Walk down the hill until you bump into the penstock from the dam (it was buried last time I visited and made an odd, straight mound through the woods). Follow the penstock east, away from the dam, until it starts a lazy turn left around a swampy little valley. Turn right with the ATV trail here.

Follow the ATV trail into the woods, avoiding the hunting blind on the way, for a short time. At some point you may be able to see the railroad through the woods (depending on the time of year), which should be before the trail curves back towards the penstock. Head down the hill to the tracks, following it to the right until you bump into the river (maybe a hundred yards along the tracks), before heading down to the river. There is a sign posted warning to stay off the trestle.

From Trestle Falls you can head upstream along the river to Upper Dead River Falls and McClure Dam Falls. The banks are steep and difficult, though not impossible, and a few trials began to crop up near the upper falls.

Comments (12)

  • Mark Piotrowski Jul 8, '14 Alternate route-park at the end of Neejay roar just before the railroad tracks. Follow tracks south to the trestle, can access Trestle, Upper Dead River, and McClure Dam Falls from here, though the path upstream is not an easy one at times. From the same spot, can head along the tracks North, then east to Upper Reany and Holyoke Falls as well.
    • Jacob Emerick Jul 9, '14 Good to know. That route is more friendly for a nice long waterfall adventure, I suppose, cos the Dead River Falls are right there too. Looks like there may be some ATV tracks that connect the uppermost of the main Dead River Falls, the ones under the power lines, back with the penstock.
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  • Amie Oct 20, '15 Does this one have a different name as well as Trestle? Not that I'm complaining about information being lacking on it, less people, but I can't even find it listed in the Waterfall World Database.
    • Jacob Emerick Oct 26, '15 Ah, no other name that I've heard. In fact, I've found very few references of this waterfall at all. Trestle Falls was something I picked up from another website (that has since been taken down). It's a shame - definitely tall and scenic enough to warrant more attention.
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  • Steve Hanzek May 17, '18 Back in the mid 70's this was a popular destination for NMU students who wanted an adventure. There was no sign warning to stay off the trestle...In fact, I watched college wrestlers climb up the trestle from the bottom to the top... i was a bit smarter... but it was freakin' scary to walk across the trestle, because to climb down to the falls, you needed to cross the trestle if you came in off the highway. The NMU ROTC used the other side to practice rapelling...When school would get out in early June, there was still snow down at the bottom of the gorge, because it was so narrow that sunlight only hit it for maybe an hour a day... An awesome experience... If I had better knees I'd love to revisit it...Add to this discussion
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  • Connie Samohovetz Jun 27, '21 We tried to find this. No access to the dam. Even though the sign said public access the drive said private drive and we were redirected by the homeowner. We tried the railroad too and were turned around by the no trespassing and cameras. No luck.
    • Patrick Aug 4, '21 Cameras? Really? Installed by the railroad or another entity, as far as you could tell?
    • Miliano m Sep 2, '21 The cameras are trail cams placed by CNR the property owners of the trestle they are on trees beside bridge /bridge is very dangerous with pebble rocks leading up to it , and train still travels frequently ,to see would require walking to edge and simply to dangerous,hence the reason for cameras
    • Maddie Sep 4, '21 I was there recently as well, to me seemed homeowner installed. I'd be curious the actual ownership back there.
    • Linda Jan 14, '22 If you're talking about walking in from Neejee Road or the McClure Dam, that is all private property. I'm a property owner on the McClure Basin and our association owns alot of riverfront property south of the dam. I've never even ventured down there...
    • Kurt Fosburg May 10, '22 I am the landowner at the end of Neejee Road. The LS&I Railroad installed the cameras, not me (although with my permission and blessing). The parking lot at the end of Neejee Road is PRIVATE PROPERTY; it was never enforced until the idiots started trashing the area. The railroad does not like foot traffic to the trestle; it is an active industrial bridge. If people would respect the area, my privacy, and stop using the parking lot for a toilet, garbage can, etc, there wouldn't be an issue. However, in this day and age of entitlement, that seems to be too much to ask. A few bad apples have definitely ruined this opportunity.
    • Todd Jul 1, '22 The McClure Dam Road is a private road and is maintained by the homeowners with properties off the road; thus, access is restricted to the owners and their guests. While there is a sign for the McClure Storage Project at the start of the private drive at the old Dam Caretakers property (the residence is also privately owned and a part of the home owners association), one needs to drive down the aforementioned private McClure Dam Rd. The land behind the dam is almost all privately owned and posted with no trespassing. Please respect peoples property and privacy.
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