Maine is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground, full of beautiful backwoods vistas, spectacular waterfalls, and Mother Nature’s gifts on glorious display.
Waterfall hiking is one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Maine. Pack a picnic lunch and your swimsuit, lace up your boots, grab bug spray and your camera, and head out to enjoy some fresh mountain air.
Waterfall hiking in Maine runs the gamut from fairly gentle, roadside walks to hang-on, slippery rock hiking. Depending on the time of year and the amount of snow melt, the waterfalls may be gentle, raging, or somewhere in between. No matter when you go, however, they will be spectacular.
Here are the 10 most scenic waterfall hikes in the state.
1. Angel Falls, Township D
Angel Falls can be tricky to find. The parking lot is marked by a small sign nailed high up on a post. Navigating the dirt road to the parking lot, which also serves as a logging road, is fairly tricky due to its steep drop.
As you begin hiking the trail, stone-stepping over several small brooks, you’ll come to a dark forest lit by dappled sunlight. The ascent to the 90-foot waterfall consists of several switchbacks over Mountain Brook. You’ll have to do a fair amount of climbing here, so be sure to wear appropriate hiking footwear. Stash an extra pair of shoes in your car, too, since you will probably get your feet wet.
A hike to Angel Falls is a breathtaking outing that will certainly challenge your fitness tracker. However, the reward is worth the effort. Angel Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Maine. As you bask in the quiet beauty of the water and the woods, try not to think about the hike back to the car.
2. Small Falls, Township E
Small Falls is located in a park-like rest area that offers public facilities (pit toilets), picnic tables, and charcoal grills. There are plenty of spots to sun and swim. On a beautiful day, you will find locals and tourists alike staking out their spots and settling in for the day.
There are multiple short falls in the gorge along with sparkling pools of mountain water. At the base of one of the smaller cascades, there is a kid-friendly pool and a small, rocky beach.
Daredevil diving is a popular activity here, although it’s dangerous and not recommended. Participants climb the rocks to a flat about 14 feet above the pool and queue up to jump. The experienced divers float gracefully down, but you’ll cringe at the neophytes’ belly flops.
3. Screw Auger Falls, Grafton Notch State Park
Screw Auger Falls in Grafton Notch State Park is everyone’s favorite spot to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s easy to find and offers parking, picnic tables, and pit toilets. It can get busy on the weekends, however, since it’s popular with both locals and visitors.
The parking lot is a short distance from the waterfall, and the walkway is well maintained and gentle. If you’d prefer not to overexert yourself, you can view Screw Auger Falls from the guardrail on the walkway. If you do venture into the Bear River, however, you will be rewarded with a series of four drops, riverbed beaches, large boulders, and beautiful cascading falls.
Mother Walker Falls in Grafton Township is just a mile north of Screw Auger Falls. It isn’t worth a special trip, but if you are already visiting Screw Auger, take a few minutes to visit this sweet little cascade on the Bear River.
4. Moxie Falls, Moxie Gore
Moxie Stream feeds the 90-foot plunge of Moxie Falls. Known for its easy trail access and beautiful scenery, Moxie Falls is a popular spot even though it’s located in a remote region of Maine. Moxie Stream flows into the Kennebunk River, known for its rapids and rafting fun.
Some agility and a moderate amount of exertion are required to conquer the gorge walls. However, if you are willing to tackle the journey, the reward is an up-close view of one of Maine’s most perfect and longest waterfalls.
5. Dunn Falls, Andover North Surplus
A trip to Dunn Falls will have you hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail. “I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail last summer” is always a great conversation-starter! This is a two-for-one deal, because the 2-mile trail loop will take you by both Upper and Lower Dunn Falls.
The 80-foot drop at Lower Dunn Falls is simply breathtaking. If you venture upstream for a closer look, you’ll feel the cooling mist from this plunging beauty. A result of the Ellis River’s years of carving through the rocks, Lower Dunn Falls is a natural masterpiece.
A little farther down the trail is Upper Dunn Falls, which takes some navigating to find. Hike around the walls of the two large pools fed by the small cascade to discover the fanning horsetail of diamond-like, sparkling clear Maine mountain water.
6. Kees Falls, Batchelders Grant
Kees Falls is a 25-foot waterfall that falls straight down. It looks like someone turned on a faucet full force and forgot to turn it off. Kees Falls is the place to go if you are looking for solitude paired with spectacular natural beauty.
A fairly arduous hike is required to reach the falls, and the pool is small -- perfect for a quick dip, but not the best place to drag lots of picnic supplies. If you are searching for a zen spot offering peace and calm, however, Kees Falls will not disappoint.
7. Rumford Falls, Rumford
Along the Androscoggin River in the center of Rumford, you’ll find Rumford Falls. Once a chain of cascading falls, Rumford Falls is now separated by a series of dams.
The parking lot divides the upper and lower parts of the falls. The upper falls retain some of their original natural state, with a large pool surrounded by a city park. It’s the perfect place for a quiet evening stroll. The lower falls gently cascade through the town center and offer charming views as you walk down the streets. There are several quaint restaurants at which you can enjoy the view.
Pro Tip: These falls are less enchanting in the summer, when the dams divert some of the water for public use.
8. Snow Falls, West Paris
Snow Falls, located at a roadside rest area, is fed by the Androscoggin River. The landmark is fairly easy to access on easy pathways and bridges. The shaded walkways and picnic tables make this a lovely stop for the naturalist who isn’t interested in a difficult hike.
The paths that meander in and out of the woods suddenly open up to beautiful and surprising water views. The 30-foot gorge is surrounded by fencing, making it safe for the whole family to explore.
9. Little Wilson Falls, Elliotsville
Little Wilson Falls is a popular spot because it is easy and enjoyable to hike to. On any beautiful summer day, you’ll find groups of locals enjoying swimming and picnicking at the large pool at the base of the lower falls.
10. Grand Falls, West Forks
Although Grand Falls is only 40 feet tall, it is 100 feet wide. The Dead River’s strong current means that swimming isn’t advisable, but it also makes for a raging waterfall when the water level is high.
The dirt-road hike to the falls is fairly easy. Bring your camera -- this site is a stunner almost year-round.
What To Know Before You Go
Some of these falls are located deep in the woods with very little roadside signage. Download your directions when you are able, since cell service can be spotty or nonexistent near the falls.
Make sure you are prepared as you head into the woods. It’s a good idea to keep water, snacks, bug spray, sunscreen, and appropriate seasonal outerwear on hand. And when it comes to your vehicle, pack a blanket or two and check your spare.
Going in search of Maine’s spectacular waterfalls is a wonderful way to enjoy New England’s natural beauty and get great exercise at the same time.
For more things to see and do in Maine, see this page.