Since the 1929 construction of a dam and hydroplant at this location, there isn't often a cataract at Cataract. When flow exceeds the capacity of the penstock, the origins of the name become evident.
Much of the gradient in this brief reach is contained in the first 200 yards downstream of the dam in a series of three drops. These will only contain runnable flow when water in the area is relatively high.
From the river left put-in eddy directly below the dam, a low ledge parallel to the main flow drops into the entrance for a narrow "S" drop between rock walls. A brief bit of lower grade water is followed by a 45 degree flume of 6-8' with a potentially aggressive hydraulic at the base. Shortly beyond lies a broad sliding drop of about 8'. Moving water and light boulderbed follow for about a quarter-mile before the gradient picks up again for some class II-III boulderbed with a few low ledges. Paddle past the powerplant and take-out at the boat landing river right.
UPPCO encourages recreational usage of their lands and has created a park-like setting here. On Hwy 35 NW of Gwinn or S of Ishpeming, look for a sign that reads "Escanaba River Access". A mile or so down this road is a 'Y' branch with pictorial signposts indicating which direction for the dam (put-in) and canoe launch (take-out). From the dam parking/picnic area, the first three drops may be scouted by crossing the dam and walking along river left.
*Gauge listed is a long way upstream of this normally dewatered reach.
Visual inspection of the drops immediately below the dam are the only sure indicator.
Permits are not required for this reach.
You may wish to ignore 'shuttle directions' automatically created below, since this is a relatively short reach that you may be likely to just hike back up. (For that matter, since it is so seldom likely to have decent boatable flows, it is far more likely that you will be here just to hike this for a look at what 'might have been'.) However, you may wish to use the 'text entry' box to input your home address (or other starting location) to get drive time, distance, and directions to this location.
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