Johnson Mountain Township, Maine

RATING: 3.0 / 5.0 stars (Great) Cold Stream Falls, Maine (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Maine
COUNTY: Somerset County
TOWN: Johnson Mountain Township
PRIVATE PROPERTY: To be determined
TYPE: Horsetail
HEIGHT: 25 feet
TRAIL LENGTH: 1.3 miles one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy side of moderate
HIKING TIME: 35 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: Down 20 feet, up 80 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: May to October
DELORME ATLAS: Page 40, D-2 (the falls are actually marked on the ME atlas/map)
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) or standard (35-70mm)
GPS-TRAILHEAD: To be determined
GPS-WATERFALL: To be determined
COMPASS: XXX degrees (when N on the compass is pointed towards the falls)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included within the appendix of the guidebook
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Cold Stream Falls is another waterfall clearly listed on DeLorme's Maine Atlas and Gazetteer in which the Internet is nearly devoid of any substantial information to help you find it. Our tip-off came when a local resident sent us detailed instructions on how to find the falls. As always, we are grateful when we receive such information.

The falls feature a 25-foot horsetail through an impressive gorge. It is a somewhat original horsetail, but it earns bonus points for being so secluded and wild. Much of the access trail parallels closely with the river, which is clear and attractive. Not much light hits the ravine that the stream is found in, which probably helped it originally earn its name Cold Stream.

Cold Stream Falls is a fair swimming hole. There is plenty of space for all in the pool, which really isn't even necessary considering you are likely to have the falls to yourself. The spot is so private that I'm assuming skinny dipping occurs from time to time. Unfortunately, there is no beach area whatsoever, and we were unable to find a non-slippery entrance into or out of the pool. Current can be too strong to swim as well. The water was indeed cold, despite our July visit. Depending on the depth of the pool-which we were unable to properly gauge on our visit due to high water levels-cliff jumping may be possible here with due care.

For those interested, there are two or three free designated campsites along Mountain Stream Rd on the drive into the falls. If you use these popular campsites, please make sure that you leave no trace of your visit.


From the parking area, take the only defined path that stems into the woods, heading north. At first, the trail declines slowly through a rough section of trail. For the first 0.4 miles of the hike, it can be difficult to stay on the trail as it can be overgrown. You can also expect a few short sections of mud for much of the summer hiking season. The trail does not see many visitors, so you may not be able to follow the footsteps of those who have visited before you.

At mile 0.5, you will begin to parallel Cold Stream as you continue hiking upstream. The trail parallels the river for the next 0.8 miles, occasionally drifting a few feet away, but always returning close to the water shortly thereafter. The falls are clearly visible from the trail 1.3 miles from your car. Although we bushwhacked our way 0.1 mile above the falls and found no other significant waterfalls, there is always the chance that additional cascades or falls could lie upstream. There is no trail beyond the falls, however.


From Bingham, take US-201 north into the town of The Forks. Continue traveling on US-201 north for 0.1 mile beyond the Johnson Mountain Township town line sign and take a right onto Capital Rd, a dirt logging road managed by the logging firm Plum Creek. Follow Capital Rd for 0.9 mile, passing through a gated industrial zone along the way near the beginning. If the gates are not open, there is a bypass road on the right that swings back to Capital Rd in 0.1 mile. At the end of the 0.9 mile, take a left onto Mountain Stream Rd. Follow Mountain Stream Rd for 0.8 mile and bear left at a fork. Continue 0.4 mile further and look for a small clearing on the left hand side, with room for about 3 or 4 cars. The parking area can be a little bit difficult to spot, as it is not as well maintained as typical trailheads are, and it is not marked by any sort of sign. If you look carefully, you should be able to spot a trail entering the woods at the northern end of the parking area.



If you know of any updates to this waterfall, or notice any errors either on this website and/or within the New England Waterfalls guidebook, please send me an email at or leave a Facebook comment at the bottom of this page. Updates to all of the waterfalls in the latest edition of the guidebook can always be found here: book updates


None noted.


Cold Stream Falls, Maine
Cold Stream Falls, Maine

Cold Stream Falls, Maine
Cold Stream Falls, Maine


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Here are some tips to help ensure that your trip to New England's waterfalls and swimming holes will be a safe and enjoyable one:
  • DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS - When you visit waterfalls, you should consider bringing all of the following: (a) bug spray; (b) food/snacks; (c) water/sports drinks; (d) camera/smart-phone; (e) guidebook/trail map; (f) daypack/backpack; and (g) hiking shoes, hiking boots or watershoes. A full day hiking packing list can be found here.
  • CONSIDER BUYING WATER SHOES - You won't see too many people using them, but watershoes are fantastic pieces of equipment that can make your trip to waterfalls and swimming holes safer and more enjoyable. Merrill and Keen make some fantastic watershoes (here are some great ones from Merrill: womens / mens).
  • LEAVE NO TRACE - When you visit waterfalls and swimming holes, you'll often see some trash and sometimes you'll even find clothing left behind by others. It's really, really sad, and it irks the heck out of us. Won't you consider carrying out some of trash and clothing left by others when you leave? That would leave the spot more beautiful for the next person. Bring a trash bag and be a hero!
  • PRIVATE PROPERTY - Many waterfalls and swimming holes are located on private property and so we are truly fortunate that many landowners allow us to enjoy them. If you want to ensure that they stay open to the public, please do your best to leave no trace. If you see a sign that says 'Private Property', turn around and find another waterfall to visit or a different place to swim.
  • BRING A DSLR CAMERA AND TRIPOD WITH YOU - If you want to take high-quality photographs of waterfalls, your smart-phone just won't cut it. Get a DSLR camera, a tripod, and learn to master the art of waterfall photography.
  • SCOUT FIRST, SWIM SECOND - Never enter a swimming hole without first scouting it, even if you see somebody else swimming in it. Stop and access the risks based upon the depth of water, the power of the current, evidence of slippery rocks, and other safety factors.
  • CLIFF JUMPING - Cliff jumping is dangerous. Like, seriously dangerous. Understand the risks before you partake in this activity. Many have died from doing this in New England. Here is a list of all known deaths at waterfalls and swimming holes in New England.
  • PLEASE DON'T BUILD ROCK CAIRNS - Please do not build new rock cairns at waterfalls or swimming holes. Cairns are a strong reminder of human presence, and don't we all want to see waterfalls in their natural state and glory? Photographers get particularly annoyed at seeing cairns, so please resist the urge to build them.
  • DON'T RELY ON YOUR GPS TO GET YOU TO THE TRAILHEAD - Waterfalls don't have addresses, so relying on your GPS to get you to a trailhead is great way to get yourself lost. You need a guidebook, a road atlas, and/or a hiking map to visit the vast majority of waterfalls in New England. Also keep in mind that waterfalls are often located in wild areas, where smart-phone map apps and car GPS units may not work at all.
  • WATERFALLS IN SPRING - The best time to visit waterfalls is generally in the spring during the annual snowmelt (which is April to June). However, most waterfalls will often look great for several days after a significant rain storm.
  • HELP KEEP THE ULTRA-SECRET SWIMMING HOLES A SECRET (FOREVER) - If you find some ultra-secret swimming holes, please do your best to keep them a secret. Do not post their locations online or wildly share directions or photos with others. All of the swimming holes that are included in the guidebook and online through this website are the well-known swimming spots. There are many more holes that are much further off the beaten path, but they deserve a chance to stay wild and pristine.
  • DON'T SCRAMBLE UP WATERFALLS - So many people been seriously injured and killed in the waterfalls of New England. Many of these folks got too close to a waterfall and slipped and fell. Don't become a statistic: stay far back from the edge.
  • WEAR TRACTION IF YOU VISIT WATERFALLS IN WINTER - Visiting waterfalls in winter can be rewarding, but there is often a higher element of danger. You may need crampons, snowshoes, and/or some other form of traction (like Microspikes) in order to safely hike to waterfalls in winter.
  • SUPPORT NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS THAT CONSERVE WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES - There are some organizations in New England that work diligently to conserve and maintain waterfalls and swimming holes. Please consider supporting these organizations, either with their trail maintenance projects or with monetary donations. Here are three excellent organizations engaged in this extremely important mission: the Trustees of Reservations, the Vermont River Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy.


Here are some helpful links to help you explore and enjoy more waterfalls and hikes throughout New England:
  • Waterfalls of Connecticut = link
  • Waterfalls of Maine = link
  • Waterfalls of Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls of New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls of Rhode Island = link
  • Waterfalls of Vermont = link
  • Best Waterfalls in New England = link
  • Best Swimming Holes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Family-Friendly Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Waterfalls Near Boston, Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls Near Lincoln, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near North Conway, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near Stowe, Vermont = link
  • Waterfall Photography Tips = link


In addition to the New England Waterfalls guidebook, there are several other guidebooks that can help you find waterfalls and swimming holes:
  • Vermont Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls in New England: A Guide to the Region's Best Waterfall Hikes (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Waterfalls of the White Mountains: 30 Hikes to 100 Waterfalls (2nd Edition: 1999) = link
  • Connecticut Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2014) = link
  • Rodrick's Guide to Vermont Waterfalls, Cascades & Gorges (1st Edition: 2014) = link


Join the growing communities of waterfall aficionados on Facebook! You can share your photographs, follow the adventures of other waterfall hunters, and find new places to explore:

  • Request to join the "New England Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "New Hampshire Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Northeastern Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Vermont Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Waterfalls of the United States" community > link

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Waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking can be extremely dangerous. Hundreds of people have been injured or killed in the waterfalls and swimming holes of New England over the years. Never swim in strong water currents. Don't jump into a swimming hole without scouting it first. Do not climb up or along the side of waterfalls. Be weary of slippery rocks. Never swim in pools above waterfalls. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! and the authors of the New England Waterfalls guidebook will not be held liable for your actions. Be safe out there - and always use common sense!