Maine harbors some of the finest waterfalls in New England that still remain far off the tourist path. Grand Falls is a prime example, and the challenge to visit these falls lies in the fact that no paved road gets anywhere near them.
The wildly scenic Grand Falls is a classic example of a horseshoe or block-style falls. The falls are an imposing 40-feet tall and over 100 feet across. In strong conditions, the entire formation is a sheet of wild whitewater. In drier conditions, sections of the left side of the falls usually remain turbulent, while the right side features gentler horsetails of varying power. An upstream and out-of-sight dam affects the water level at the falls significantly, but there should always be at least some water flowing here. Grand Falls is beautiful year-round, as the sheer size of the river is likely to keep it from completely icing over. It is one of the most powerful and scenic undammed waterfalls in the Northeast. The falls are highly photogenic and should not be missed during peak fall-foliage.
The falls have been experiencing a strong boost in popularity over the last few years due to the completion of the Grand Falls Hut by the Maine Huts & Trails organization. The hut, which offers overnight accommodations and is equally welcoming to day visitors, was constructed about a mile downstream of the falls. A separate trail from the trailhead for the falls leads to this fine hut.
The falls are located 0.25 mile upstream of the parking area, but you cannot see or hear them from the trailhead. To start your hike, walk 100 feet back uphill along the road and turn left onto the Maine Hut Trail ("MHT"). Follow the MHT south for 100 feet as it turns left and cross a bridge over Spencer Stream. This stream merges with the Dead River only 200 feet downstream of the bridge. The bridge is always open to hikers, but there is often a gate you must climb over or crawl under. After crossing the bridge, follow a snowmobile trail straight for 0.2 mile and take a left onto the Falls Trail, which is a narrower hiking trail. Follow the blue-blazed Falls Trail as it steeply climbs two small hills on rock-steps to a birds-eye, head-on view of the magnificent falls. Views are completely unobstructed from cliffs in front of the falls.
On a side note, the trailhead for the falls is also only 0.8 mile from the Grand Falls Hut. Follow the MHT northeast from the trailhead to visit this wonderful backcountry complex.
From Bingham, take US-201 north for 26.0 miles. Continue traveling on US-201 north for 3.0 miles past the bridge over the Kennebec River in the small town of The Forks and take a left onto Lower Enchanted Rd, a long, well-maintained dirt road. Passenger cars should have no problem navigating this road under normal conditions. As a side note, GPS units typically do not work on the logging roads of Maine, and Lower Enchanted Rd is no exception.
Altogether, you will drive a total of 14.0 miles heading generally west along Lower Enchanted Rd. As you drive along Lower Enchanted Rd, follow these specific instructions: stay straight at mile 0.9, fork right at mile 1.3, stay straight at miles 2.2 and 4.0, bear right at mile 4.1, bear left at mile 4.7, bear right at mile 6.4, stay straight at mile 7.0, bear left at mile 8.9, bear right at mile 9.6, bear left at miles 13.0 and 13.1, stay straight at mile 13.6 (Hut Rd), and you will come to a final fork at mile 13.7. At this final fork you will find a small grassy clearing (and usually a few portable toilets) on the left hand side of the road. This area is used by whitewater rafting companies whenever the Dead River is run. Take the right fork and drive a rougher road (typically passable to most vehicles) downhill for 0.3 mile further to a parking area at its end. This trailhead is directly in front of the confluence of Spencer Stream and the Dead River.
Although the length of the dirt road and the number of forks and intersections may seem daunting, the road is actually rather easy to follow. Keep in mind that at most of the junctions and forks along the way, you will be taking the road that is most obvious and in the best condition. Follow this rule, along with the detailed directions above, and you should encounter no problems finding the trailhead for these falls at the end of Lower Enchanted Rd.
There is another driving approach that gets you close to the falls, and that is from the west via Big Eddy Rd and Grand Falls Rd from ME 27. For directions to a trailhead on Grand Falls Rd, consult the 2017 guidebook, Waterfall Walks & Short Hikes In The Western Mountains of Maine by Doug Dunlap.
To get to Bingham, take I-95 to exit 133 in Fairfield. Follow US-201 north.
UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION
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 email@example.com 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
Grand Falls, Maine
Grand Falls, Maine
Grand Falls, Maine
Grand Falls, Maine
INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?
TIPS FOR VISITING WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES
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
OTHER WATERFALL GUIDEBOOKS
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
WATERFALLS ON FACEBOOK
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
And if you'd like to follow the New England Waterfalls page on Facebook, click here.
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