Feel the Rush
Few things compare to the power of a thundering waterfall. Here is a list of Maine’s most impressive cascades, and where to fin
Where there’s water, there’s usually waterfalls. Maine is blessed with more than its share of cascades, everything from thundering falls like Screw Auger and Big Niagara (sorry, Canada, we have our own!), where just being a spectator gives you an adrenaline rush, to swimmable spots like Smalls Falls. Here is a rundown on where to find some of the most scenic spots in Maine; they’re all worth a visit, but you should always be careful and heed local warnings when entering the water near any swift-moving water. You can find directions either in DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer or Patricia Hughes’ Maine’s Waterfalls: A Comprehensive Guide (Schiffer Publishing, 4880 Lower Valley Rd., Atglen, Pennsylvania; paperback; 192 pages; $14.99).
Abol Falls, on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, (T2 R10 WELS) features a gradual drop with road access.
Allagash Falls, on the Allagash River, (T15 R11 WELS) is a thundering cascade featuring a series of falls.
Angel Falls, on Mountain Brook, (Township D), is one of the highest drops in Maine, at thirty yards, even if such a cascade doesn’t compare with its South American counterpart. This one’s a little trickier to get to, though: follow the old railroad line off Route 17 in Houghton. Once you get to Berdeen Stream after a gravel pit, you’ll have to ford the stream and then follow it along the north side until you reach the falls. The view will be worth it.
Bickford Slides, on Bickford Brook in Stow, is essentially two waterfalls, both fed by the same mountain stream. The water pours over an open ledge at the lower part of the falls, but the upper falls are even more spectacular. The good news is that both are accessible by offshoots of the White Mountain National Forest Bickford Brook Trail. Take
Blueberry Ridge for the lower falls or the side path known as Bickford Slides Loop to reach the Upper Slides. Take care, however, because the crossing can be challenging at high water.
Big Niagara Falls, on Nesowadnehunk Stream (T3 R10 WELS), features a six-yard drop over stunning pink Katahdin granite.
The Cataracts, on Frye Brook in Andover West Surplus, offer another great opportunity for a waterfall visit. With three different scenic drops (from six- to nine-yards-high), this one is worth the trek. And if you’re up for even more of a trek, the Appalachian Trail passes right by these falls.
Cold Stream Falls, on Cold Stream in Johnson Mountain Township, includes ruins around a small falls.
Debsconeag Falls, on the West Branch of the Penobscot River (T2 R10 WELS), features swift rapids on a well-known canoe route.
Dunn Falls, on the West Branch of the Ellis River in Andover North Surplus, includes a seventeen- and a twenty-six-yard drop on a spectacular mountain stream.
Earley Landing Falls, on Big Wilson Falls in Willimantic, includes some interesting geological features on a pair of two-yard drops.
The Falls, on Sandy Stream in Sandy Bay, features a dramatic drop in a bedrock cleavage.
Fish River Falls, on the Fish River (T14 R8 WELS), features fishing and camping near this dramatic canyon drop.
Grand Falls, on the Dead River (T3 R4 BKP WKR), includes an old dam near this horshoe falls, situated near the newest of Maine Huts & Trails’ backcountry lodges.
Grand Falls, on Wassataquoik Stream (T4 R9 WELS), includes a series of falls with the bonus of having the remains of lumbering camps in the area.
Grand Pitch, on the East Branch of the Penobscot River (T5 R8 WELS), includes a stunning seven-yard drop.
Green Falls, on Wassataquoik Stream (T4 R10 WELS), sees the stream pass through a dramatic rock chute.
Hay Brook Falls, on Hay Brook in Bowdoin College Grant East, features three separate chutes.
Heald Stream Falls, on Heald Stream in Bald Mountain Township, includes a bridge and former railroad trestle as well as a series of dramatic ledges.
Hiram Falls, on the Saco River in Hiram, features a series of falls below the Central Maine Power Co. dam and power plant.
Holeb Falls, on the Moose River in Attean, includes two parallel falls and an eight-yard drop.
Howe Brook Falls, on Howe Brook (T5 R9 WELS), allows clear mountain water to cascade over pools, potholes, and chutes.
Houston Brook Falls, on Houston Brook in Pleasant Ridge, allows swimming below a series of falls.
Katahdin Stream Falls, on Katahdin Stream (T3 R10 WELS), includes four vertical drops in a mossy ravine.
Little Abol Falls, on Little Abol Stream in Mount Katahdin Township, is a scenic set of falls in the Baxter State Park area.
Little Allagash Falls, on Allagash Stream in Eagle Lake Township, can only be reached by boat, but includes a scenic four-yard drop.
Little Niagara Falls, on Nesowadnehunk Stream (T3 R10 WELS), is another pleasant four-yard cascade.
Little Wilson Falls, on Little Wilson Stream in Elliottsville Plantation, is one of the highest falls in Maine, with a thirteen-yard main drop.
Moxie Falls, on Moxie Stream in Moxie Gore, features a towering thirty-yard cascade.
Nesowadnehunk Falls, on the West Branch of the Penobscot River (T2 R10), allows superb views of Mount Katahdin.
Old Roll Dam, on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, is a nice two-yard drop over green slate.
Poplar Stream Falls, on Poplar Stream in Carrabassett Valley, includes two scenic falls and a swimming hole near one of the new Maine Huts & Trails backcountry lodges.
Redington Pond Falls, in Redington Township, includes a series of waterfalls that comprise a 107-yard total drop.
Rocky Brook Falls, on Rocky Brook (T15 R8 WELS), features two drops and the remains of Maine’s log-driving days.
Rumford Falls, on the Androscoggin River in Rumford, features a fifty-nine-yard cascade over granite ledges.
Sawtelle Falls, on Sawtelle Brook (T6 R7 WELS), features a five-yard drop carved through a sandstone ledge.
Screw Auger Falls, on Gulf Hagas Stream in Bowdoin College Grant East, is known as Maine’s Grand Canyon for its impressive series of drops in a narrow canyon.
Shin Falls, on Shin Brook (T6 R7 WELS), features three falls for a total drop of eighteen yards over red and green slate.
Slugundy Falls, on Long Pond Stream in Elliottsville, is situated in a scenic gorge near the Appalachian Trail.
Smalls Falls, on Sandy River in Township E, is a scenic spot at the junction of the Sandy River and Chandler Mill Stream.
Steep Falls, on the Saco River in Standish, features a two-yard drop near a former railroad bed and mill ruins.
Step Falls, on Wight Brook in Newry, is a safe bet if you’re on a family trip, as it’s not too difficult to reach. The view isn’t shabby, either, with a total combined drop of forty-five yards over a series of channels and cascades.
Swift River Falls, on the Swift River in Roxbury, is a great choice if you prefer to pull over your car rather than pull on the hiking boots. The hydraulic granite sculpture and two drops don’t hurt, either.
Tobey Falls, on Big Wilson Stream in Willimantic, includes three sets of falls and a plunge pool below the lower falls.
West Chairback Pond Falls, on West Chairback Pond Stream (T7 W9 NWP), is a scenic eighteen-yard drop near the Appalachian Trail.