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Dead River Falls: The Best Hidden Hike in Marquette, MI

Only the locals know about this one! And now you do too.

waterfalls at Dead River Falls in Marquette

Ok adventurers! Are you ready to learn about a true hidden gem of a hike near Marquette, MI? The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a patchwork of natural areas and hiking trails, but I only found out about this place because a local put me on to it. And it was my favorite hike in Marquette by a long margin! It feels like back country hiking, but you don’t have to drive for hours to get there!

It's called Dead River Falls, and I'm here to tell you all about it.

How to Find Dead River Falls

If you type Dead River Falls into Google Maps, it will come up in the correct place. But take a moment and make careful note of the route. You will almost certainly lose cell service as you approach the trailhead! Ah the magic of the backwoods.

The road to the trailhead dead ends in a parking lot next to a power plant. Not going to lie, it looks a little dodgy. But I promise you’re in the right place!

the Dead River Falls trailhead

The Trail

After you park, you’re going to want to climb the gravel path that goes up the hill and bends to the right. You’ll know you’ve reached the trail when you see this stairway and trail marker on the tree line on your left!

The “trail” wanders down toward the river. It also ends really quickly. Basically as soon as you hit the river, you’ll be able to follow it a little ways up and down stream, but not very far. 

From here, Marquette's Dead River Falls trail is a real-life choose your own adventure experience!

The Exploration!

You will want to go upstream, not down, because that’s where all the best stuff is. Wear clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. You’ll be splitting time between the wooded shoreline and the shallow edges of the river, and will want to be able to keep your footing on both. And remember, this is Upper Michigan so the water is going to be cold no matter the season!

The things you find will amaze you. Every new corner will show you a new waterfall, gathering pool, or rock formation. I can’t give you an exact itinerary, because what excites you will be different than what excites me. All I can do is encourage you to explore. Climb rocks. Indulge your inner child. Swim if it’s warm enough, or just sunbathe if it’s not. (The rocks are dark and the ones in the center of the river bake in the sun and radiate warmth beautifully.) There’s no wrong way to experience Dead River Falls.

There’s no trail “end,” so go as far as you feel like going, and then retrace your steps back to the trailhead and the parking lot. This isn’t a curated hike designed for tourists. This is a wilderness experience in easy reach.

Explore Dead River Falls in Marquette!

One of the best things about Upper Michigan is the ability to go off the grid and explore. Enjoy it!

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Love and Shenanigans,


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