There are several important pieces to the 'Mulligan Area' of Marquette County. Mulligan Plains is a long, narrow valley pointing from the western end of the Dead River north to Pinnacle Falls on the Yellow Dog Plains. Emptying the large and wild Mulligan Swamp into the Dead River is Mulligan Creek. Along the creek is a series of relatively unheard of waterfalls collectively called Mulligan Falls. All of these are wrapped around Silver Lake Basin, the uppermost dammed basin along the Dead River, located on the edge of the Peshekee Highlands.
The Peshekee Highlands are a large, expansive, and rugged plateau just south of the Yellow Dog Plains. The elevation here is surprisingly high, usually around 1600 feet above sea level. Much of the plateau is swampy and sprinkled with lakes; the hard rocky outcroppings make it difficult for the water to drain out regularly. This area also has mineral wealth, with numerous abandoned gold and silver mines throughout the plateau. Almost two-thirds of the highlands are located within the McCormick Tract and Craig Lake state parks, and the remaining portion is too rugged for regular traffic, making it the whole area exceedingly difficult to visit.
On the eastern boundary of the Peshekee Highlands is Mulligan Plains, a wooded valley with several cabins interspersed along the two county roads that wind up its length. Most of the plains is composed by tall pines and sandy ground, except for the swampy area north of and around Mulligan Creek. On the eastern side of the valley are several lakes perched hundreds of feet above, including the Rocking Chair Lakes, a DNR designated camping and fishing area. The Silver Lake Basin is located on the western side of the valley, also perched above the valley. Thanks to the narrowness of Mulligan Plains, you can see both sides rise up suddenly from the county road, which heads north before terminating at Mulligan Creek about two-thirds into the valley.
While Mulligan Creek drains a massive swamp of the Peshekee Highlands, it is normally a small river easily crossed by Beaver Dams or fallen logs. Thanks to its swampy headwaters, the river is heavily colored, even appearing to be a deep red in the larger pools. There are only two bridges over the creek: one easily driven over at the entrance of Mulligan Plains along Silver Lake Road and a second one at the end of the county road that can barely support a four wheeler. Due to this, the only way to easily visit Rocking Chair Lakes involves crossing the creek on a beaver dam near the end of the easternmost county road. While Mulligan Creek is calm, swampy, and deep within Mulligan Plains, it has a large and tumultuous drop before that result in a number of waterfalls and rapids along the creek.
It is hard to say how many waterfalls are along Mulligan Creek simply because there is no easy way to travel along the creek. You can only drive to within a mile of any sizable drop, and there are no trails or tracks that run along the creek, so any adventure involves heavy bushwhacking through old cedars, thick swamps, and rugged terrain. From the swampy headwaters, the creek drops around two hundred and fifty feet within six miles before calming down. The formations in this area force the creek to drop several dozen feet at a time, either over pillows of basalt or through narrow gorges carved in the rock, with large pools and swamps between each drop. The last several drops are located in a very old, deep canyon, with moss-covered cedars and towering rock cliffs reaching up to the sky above. While this area is beautiful, finding and exploring it is beyond the difficulty level of most hikers.
Mulligan Swamp is easier to access by avoiding the plains and swamp all together. North of Champion and Humboldt is a maze of roads and popular fishing lakes that head west of Silver Lake Basin towards the swamp. There are a number of cabins and recreational areas in this area thanks to the accessibility, though few people actually head into the swamp. This area is the true meat of the Peshekee Highlands with thick woods, marshy lakes, and rocky hills.
To explore Mulligan Plains and Creek, head north on Deer Lake Road out of Ishpeming until you cross the Dead River. Turn left at the first fork, cross over Mulligan Creek, and turn right on the second two-track. This road will take you within a mile of the lowermost falls on the creek and deep within the valley. The road system north of US-41 is poorly marked and difficult to navigate, so bring a map and/or GPS unit to assist. The Rocking Chair Lakes are on the first right after Mulligan Creek, though this road is in very poor condition. Mulligan Swamp can be reached by taking Wolf Lake Road out of Humboldt, staying on Wildcat Canyon Road, turning right after Voelker's Creek, then winding northwards up onto the plateau.