4 Marquette Waterfalls in One Afternoon
Looking to hit multiple falls in a day? Do you have a bit of time between breakfast and the beach, or between lunch and jumping off Black Rocks, or even (because the days will only get longer from here on out) between dinner and a late-night bonfire.
Put these four falls on your list, and you can check them off in just one afternoon, although we don’t recommend rushing…
If there were a difficulty rating for Marquette waterfall access, Morgan Falls would be the bunny hill. But despite its ease of access, many insist it’s still one of the most beautiful falls in the Marquette area.
Just a 10-minute drive from downtown Marquette and a very short walk from the road, Morgan Falls is an easy “we’ve got 30 minutes to spare” hike when you’ve got a full itinerary but want to fit in just one more thing.
A quick drive up M-553 (towards Marquette Mountain) will find you at the two-track that accesses the falls (the two-track is the last right, on the large right turn, before you reach the ski hill). Follow the two-track (you’re gonna want four-wheel or all-wheel drive for this one) for 1.5 miles, until you see a moderately-sized shoulder and small sign identifying Morgan Falls on the left side. Park there — if you drive over a wooden bridge, you’ve gone too far.
You’ll be able to hear the waterfall from the road — just follow the path down, cross the wooden footbridge and you’ll see the 20-foot falls (and large pool) just below you.
For a longer and more challenging hike, continue up the Carp River trail (Morgan Creek is where the falls originate from, Carp River is just to the south) about a half-mile to reach a series of falls known as the Lower Carp River Falls.
Dead River Falls
Dead River Falls isn’t quite as easy to access as Morgan Falls, but don’t fret! The drive to the trailhead takes about 15 minutes from downtown Marquette, and the hike is short (1/4 mile to the first falls), though a bit treacherous.
To get to the trailhead, head west from downtown Marquette on US 41 about two miles before turning right at the intersection near Walmart and Target. This is CR 492, which turns into Wright Street. Follow 492 for about a half-mile, keeping an eye out for Forestville Road on the left side of the road after the big turn behind Target.
Follow Forestville Road all the way to the power plant (just over two miles), where you will find parking on the right side. Follow the big hill to the right of the power plant until you see a set of stairs on the left side. You’ll be able to hear the first set of falls from here, and if you take the stairs to the riverside trail, you’ll see where you can continue following it all the way to the upper falls.
Rocks, roots, steep uphills, and downhills can all be expected if you continue hiking, particularly if you make your way back to the second, third, and fourth series of falls. The first falls are accessible for most, but continuing up the trail, you will see that the difficulty rating goes up quite a bit. Taking the high trail will have you scrambling up and down steep hills (I have had to use my hands to remain stable), while the lower trail will bring you close to the edge on some larger embankments as well as next to the river, which tends to get muddy. The higher falls are certainly worth the effort, however, as they range from 10-25 feet in height and are all within a couple of hundred feet of each other. This series of falls is considered one of the best waterfall day trips in Michigan, so no matter what you choose to do — or how you choose to do it — you’re no doubt in for some adventure.
Yellow Dog Falls
Yellow Dog Falls is a further drive from Marquette than the other waterfalls listed here, but they are worth the drive time, and once you get to the trailhead, aren’t that difficult to reach. Besides, you’ll be glad you made the trip as you meander along one of the wildest streams east of the Mississippi, where native brook trout — Michigan’s State Fish — swim lazily in rocky pools and multiple waterfalls can be seen in just a two-mile section of the river.
The drive to the falls begins by heading towards Big Bay and CR 550. Just before Big Bay, turn left onto CR 510 and drive seven miles, be sure to continue on 510 by turning left at the intersection of AAA Road.
After crossing the Yellow Dog River bridge, park on the left side in the small parking area, and follow the trail about 3/4 of a mile downstream to the 20-foot falls. For a longer and more adventurous hike, keep following the river another 1.5 miles downstream to Bushy Creek Falls — an equally awesome, multi-tiered falls that also offers good brook trout fishing in its pools. The Yellow Dog River in general drops very fast over a small distance before emptying into Lake Independence, so if you’re heading that way and have a whole day to spend exploring, be sure to look into the many other small falls in the area.
As long as you’re heading up to the Yellow Dog Falls, you should make it a point to check out Pinnacle Falls. Take 510 road south from County Road 550, for about 3 miles to the AAA road. Turn west and travel for about 5.5 miles to Pinnacle trail on the left. Turn south for about one mile, then curve east then south for 1/2 mile until the road dead-ends in a small parking area. Take the foot trail to the south of the parking area and follow the hill downward southeast, for about 15 minutes. Down by the river follow the ancient trail upstream to the falls.