This 40-acre area is adjacent to the West Branch of the Ontonagon River, which flows into the main branch of the Ontonagon River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River. The Memorial was acquired in 2021 to honor Mike Dempsey's life and to provide a place of healing for veterans and their loved ones. The preserve was made possible by multiple donors and partners including, the Mike Dempsey Foundation, North Country Trail Association, Lyme Timber, UPPCO and the generous contributions of 90 individuals like you. In addition to being a place of memory and healing, the preserve protects and improves nearly one mile on Segment 19 of the North Country Scenic Trail.
The Dempsey Preserve is open to the public for passive recreation during daylight hours. In addition, the preserve is enrolled in MI's Commercial Forest Program (CFP) and is open to hunting, fishing, and trapping in accordance with CFP regulations.
About Mike Dempsey
Michael Cameron Dempsey -- "Mike" to his friends and coworkers -- was descended from UP stock, both Finnish and Scottish. He spent memorable moments in the western UP, investigating his roots, accompanying his family to heritage sites, and reveling in the unparalleled natural beauty of the area. He served his country in a diplomatic capacity in Afghanistan at a forward military base, placing his life in jeopardy on behalf of those less fortunate. He was under hostile fire on numerous occasions. Mike loved his country, his State, his friends and family.
To get to the Mike Dempsey Memorial Preserve from Marquette, take US-41 toward Covington, turn left (East) on M-28/US-41. Follow M-28 to Bruce Crossing. Turn right (North) onto US-45 and continue until the intersection of US-45N and M-26. Turn left, remaining on US-45N, in 2.4 miles turn left (West) onto Elm Rd/Victoria Dam Rd. Continue for 2.6 miles, turn left on an unmarked paved road. This unmarked road is park of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT). The end of the road is gated; park here and follow the NCT south for approximately 1 miles before reaching the preserve.
The NCT crosses the Ontonagon River and there is no bridge, due to the Victoria Dam streamflow in this stretch of the river. Fording the river is impossible during high water runoff or dam release events. Please see below for details on access.
Mike Dempsey Memorial Preserve is open for passive recreation during daylight hours. No motors or bikes, please. Do not dump or remove any natural or manmade features. The Preserve is a sits on sensitive soils and trails have been chosen to minimize human impact.
The river crossing can become impassable at times when significant water is being released from the Victoria Dam reservoir. The dam releases water until June 11 for fish migration. Dam also releases water when there has been significant rain in the day(s) before. Go to https://www.uppco.com/hydro-water-levels/ and scroll down to Ontonagon River - Victoria - Total Flow. The flow rates on that website are updated every 10 minutes: if the Total Flow is greater than 650 cfs they will be releasing water from the dam. If the Total Flow is close to or over 1,000 cfs you need to hike the highwater bypass rather than wade thru the river. The highwater bypass follows Victoria Dam Rd and US 45 on this route: tinyurl.com/Highwater-route This route is only 3 miles longer than staying on the trail and takes you into Rockland where there is dining, supplies, a post office (limited hours) and lodging are available.