Alder Falls – A Scenic Marquette County Waterfall
One of the most stunning and scenic drives in Marquette County is the trip north on CR-550 from Marquette to Big Bay. That trip offers up chances for many different kinds of outdoor exploring, ranging from hiking and viewing platforms at Sugarloaf Mountain, beachfront and swimming at Little Presque Isle, and a unique bog habitat at Wetmore Pond. Several waterfalls dot the landscape as well, and due to the more rugged terrain of the area it can be a true adventure to reach them. One of the easier waterfalls to reach is Alder Falls, a 30-foot slide falls located 20 miles north of Marquette.
The road that leads back to Alder Falls can be in rough shape at times, and if you have to park your car early on it is about a 20 minute walk to the falls. In two trips there, we made it about halfway back on our first trip (in a Kia Sorento) then made the rest of the trip on bicycles and then were able to drive right up to the trailhead the second time in an older Ford Explorer. The trail to the falls is about 1/4 mile and in good shape with the last part being mostly downhill. The falls are located in a thick wooded area, so make sure to hit the bug spray before this trip.
The main (lower) drop here is the most spectacular, with a wide sheet of water sliding down a smooth rock face before making its way downstream under fallen trees. It is usually possible to get to the middle of the creek here by carefully using logs and rocks – the best views come from there. On our second visit we did a bit more exploring and wandered all the way across and headed to the brink of the falls before finding a few more drops upstream.
Directions: Head north from Marquette on CR-550, and travel about 20 miles. There will be a few signs for businesses, etc. with Alder in their name. Take the last dirt road on the left before CR-550 crosses Alder Creek, then when the road immediately forks take the left fork. The road is rutted, sandy, and a little tight due to overgrown and fallen trees. There is no sign for the falls, but you will know you are at the right path (just over a half-mile from the main road) when you see the “No Motorized Vehicles or Litter Please” wooden sign next to the trail. Follow this short path into the woods and down to the falls.