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12 Top-Rated Waterfalls in Maine

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers
Nov 17, 2022

Maine is known for its outdoor attractions and experiences, and waterfalls are some of the most popular things to see here. In this list, you'll find waterfalls hidden deep in the forest and accessed by hiking trails, but you'll also find easy-to-reach waterfalls with shallow pools just right for families, and those in romantic settings perfect for picnicking couples. Some, like Houston Brook Falls, are popular swimming holes.

Gulf Hagas Falls, Maine
Gulf Hagas Falls, Maine

Many of Maine's tallest and most beautiful falls, such as Screw Auger and Smalls Falls, are close to roads and have picnic areas; one is in the center of Camden, where it drops into the harbor. Like the falls themselves, the settings are varied, from the wide-open reach of the Kennebec River at Grand Falls to the narrow canyon of Snow Falls and the gently sloping ledges of Step Falls.

Whether you enjoy hiking, prefer roadside attractions, or are looking for a scenic picnic site, you'll find the perfect places to visit in this list of the best waterfalls in Maine.

1. Moxie Falls, West Fork

Moxie Falls
Moxie Falls

This waterfall, in west central Maine, is a spectacular 90-foot drop between the walls of a rock gorge, a combination of a dramatic plunge and horsetail falls.

Tied with Angel Falls for the title of the longest single drop, Moxie Falls is one of the most visited despite the hike of a little more than half a mile to get here. You can always expect to find plenty of other visitors.

The initial part of the walk is mostly flat, and closer to the falls, there are wooden stairs and platforms to get you over the toughest parts. Enjoy the pools and smaller falls on the way up. From Route 201 at The Forks, take East Moxie Lake Road about two miles and look for the parking on the north side of the road.

2. Screw Auger Falls

Screw Auger Falls
Screw Auger Falls

The Bear River flows through Grafton Notch State Park, close to the New Hampshire border in Newry, and during the last Ice Age, it carved the twisted and undulating course of Screw Auger Falls. The force of meltwater, and the sand and stones it carried, ground through the solid bedrock, sculpting it into a series of pools and curving chutes before plunging 25 feet over a cliff and into a pool at its base.

Screw Auger Falls is one of the easiest of Maine's waterfalls to reach, alongside Route 26. Several convenient trails follow the flow of water, giving you an excellent chance to see the falls from many different perspectives. Don't miss the park during fall foliage season.

3. Angel Falls, Franklin County

Angel Falls
Angel Falls

Tied with Moxie Falls as Maine's highest waterfall, Angel Falls crashes 90 feet between 100-foot granite cliffs, bouncing off jagged ledges as it falls. Distinguishing it from other waterfalls is the 25-foot space between the cliffs at the top of the falls, artistically framing the start of its dramatic plunge.

You'll need to work harder to get to Angel Falls, though. The hike of about a mile and a half follows a stream, crossing and recrossing it several times and proceeding steadily uphill. If the water flow is heavy in the spring or after rains, you may get your feet wet, even in boots.

From Route 17 in Houghton follow Bemis Track, off the west side of the road, for approximately 3.6 miles. The trail, which follows Mountain Brook (marked with red markers, and occasional yellow ties), will be on the left.

4. Smalls Falls

Smalls Falls
Smalls Falls

One of the easiest of Maine's waterfalls to access, Smalls Falls is right beside Route 4, south of Rangely. You'll see the Smalls Falls Rest Area on the west side of the road, with parking, picnic facilities, and grills. It has easy access to Smalls Falls, a series of falls, cascades, and pools that are not only beautiful, but a favorite place to swim.

The Sandy River cascades through a gorge of multicolored stone, ending in a short cascade into a pool. Above it, a 14-foot horsetail of water drops into a crystal-clear pool for swimming. Beyond the plunge and cascade is a 25-foot split cascade and beyond that another 12-foot falls.

Smalls Falls is a lot of waterfall for no effort. A picnic and swim here is a popular thing to do on a summer day.

5. Houston Brook Falls, Bingham

Houston Brook Falls
Houston Brook Falls

Houston Brook ends dramatically by dropping over a ragged rock face and into an arm of Wyman Lake. This is an attractive and easy-to-reach horsetail falls, the flow of which can vary greatly depending on recent rainfall.

In the spring and after a rain, the falls cover the entire width of the fractured rock face, but in dry seasons, the stair-stepped ledges beside the falls are tempting to climb. The rocks are slippery and dangerous, especially near the top, so it's not recommended. In the summer, the base of the falls is a favorite swimming spot.

The trail to the falls is about half a mile long. To reach the tailhead from Route 201 in Bingham, cross over the Kennebec River toward Route 16, but turn north onto Pleasant Ridge Road, following it along past the south end of the lake. The sign for the falls will be on the right.

6. Gulf Hagas Falls

Gulf Hagas Falls
Gulf Hagas Falls

A few miles northwest of Brownville Maine, the West Branch of the Pleasant River cuts its way through a 3.5-mile-long mountain of slate, leaving cliffs hundreds of feet tall at a site often called the "Grand Canyon of Maine." But it is not easy to get to.

From Route 11 north of Brownsville, you can access the trail from a gatehouse on Katahdin Ironworks Road. To see all the waterfalls and the gorge itself is a day-long hike over some very challenging territory, and you should carry a backpack with water, food, flashlight, rain gear, and a compass.

The first falls you'll encounter is Screw Auger Falls (not to be confused with the one in Grafton Notch), a beautiful pair of plunge-horsetail falls and well-worth the one-mile hike to see them, even if you're not continuing on to the gorge.

Farther on, Billings Falls drop over water-worn cliffs more than 20 feet into a pool bounded by stone walls. The trail also features rim views down into the riverbed, but be very careful to avoid slipping. This day-long hike is not suggested for children.

7. Step Falls, Newry

Step Falls
Step Falls |Doug Kerr / photo modified

Just outside Grafton State Park in Newry, and close to Screw Auger Falls, Step Falls fairly beg you to bring the children and a picnic on a summer day.

Although during spring runoff the falls are a frothing torrent, in the summer, the water slides and splashes down a gentle progression of broad water-worn shelves. These wide, flat steps create shallow wading pools, with a few deep enough for swimming.

Beside these are broad, sunny expanses of flat granite. You can follow a three-quarter-mile trail alongside this chain of cascades and falls, stopping at different levels of its 32-foot drop to admire each and find your perfect picnic site.

The falls are part of a Mahoosuc Land Trust preserve, and signage at the base of the trail explains the geology of the falls.

Official site: https://www.mahoosuc.org/step-falls-preserve

8. Snow Falls, West Paris

Snow Falls
Snow Falls

Conveniently close to the roadside on Route 26, south of West Paris, the waters of the Little Androscoggin River are compressed through a long, narrow fissure in the base rock. The river forms four separate cascades as it rushes through the gorge, whose walls reach as high as 30 feet.

The last of the four is a straight plunge into a pool, and you can get a good view of it from a footbridge across the river below the falls. You can view the rest of the falls safely behind log fencing along the rim on both sides of the gorge. The roadside park has picnic tables and other facilities for tourists.

9. Dunn Falls, Oxford County

Dunn Falls
Dunn Falls

The two-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail is well worth the effort, with the reward of two stunningly beautiful waterfalls, as well as cascades and scenic pools.

You can access the Appalachian Trail where it crosses East B Hill Road (also called Newton Street), about eight miles from Route 5 in Andover. From here, the Cascade Trail heads south, where you'll see trail signs to the Lower Dunn Falls, an 80-foot horsetail falls bouncing down a nearly vertical rock face. Walls on either side of the falls reach 100 feet.

After admiring Lower Dunn Falls, take the trail back to the Cascade Trail and the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, crossing the river to a sign for the Upper Falls. This trail is blue-blazed, and before reaching Upper Falls, you'll find two pools, surrounded by rock walls and fed by small waterfalls. But there's more to come.

At Upper Dunn Falls, the West Branch Ellis River plunges 50 feet, almost vertically through a narrow wedge-shaped channel between towering moss-covered rock walls. The loop trail rejoins the Appalachian Trail, taking you back to East B Hill Road and your car. The hike is rated as moderate, with some ascents and descents.

10. Grand Falls, Eustis

The 14 miles of unpaved road to get to the trailhead may discourage tourists not accustomed to driving on New England's dirt roads. But the sight of this horseshoe falls, 100 feet wide and 40 feet high, is one they won't forget. It's one of the most powerful waterfalls in the northeast that has not been marred by a dam.

Once at the trailhead, the falls are less than a half-mile hike; the trail to the top of the falls is steeper, but the best views are from the bottom.

The water flow of the falls is dependent on a dam, upstream and out of sight. When it's a release day, you'll be sharing the road with white-water enthusiasts, as the base of the falls is a popular starting point for rafting trips.

To get there from Route 201 in West Forks, follow Lower Enchanted Road for about 14 miles, turning right to the Dead River white water rafting put-in.

11. Little Wilson Falls

Little Wilson Falls
Little Wilson Falls

A series of three waterfalls along the Appalachian Trail in Piscataquis County, Little Wilson Falls requires a 1.5-mile moderate hike to reach the 18-foot Lower Falls. It and the 25-foot Middle Falls are a series of slides and cascades, while the Upper Falls is a horsetail falls, plunging 40 feet over a steep cliff of water-worn rock.

The walls of the gorge are fractured in such uniform angles that it appears almost as though it were built of cut granite blocks. The side walls here are extremely steep and dangerous, and careful attention is required around them.

The access trail that leads you to the Appalachian Trail begins at Little Wilson Falls Road in the Elliotsville Township, off Elliottsville Road, near Route 6 north of Monson.

12. Megunticook Falls, Camden

Megunticook Falls
Megunticook Falls | Photo Copyright: Lura Seavey

Possibly the easiest of all Maine's waterfalls to access, Megunticook Falls is in downtown Camden, where it drops into Camden Harbor. You can view this long series of cascades from the Public Landing or contemplate it from a bench in Harbor Park.

You can even have your breakfast or lunch overlooking the falls. The river is the Megunticook, which has its headwaters in Lake Megunticook, a few miles from Camden. The river flows through the town and under the Main Street shops, where it is controlled by a dam. The dam doesn't mar the view of the falls and is hidden when viewed from the harbor.

The two branches of the waterfall are separated by a rocky island that diverts the flow over the ragged bedrock. The falls are especially beautiful in the winter, when the falling water freezes in successive layers over the rocks. In any season, Harbor Park, with its views of ships and the waterfall, is one of the favorite places to go in Camden.

Read More: Best Things to Do in Camden, Maine

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