LITTLE WILSON FALLS


Elliotsville, Maine



RATING: 5.0 / 5.0 stars (Outstanding) Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Maine
COUNTY: Piscataquis
TOWN: Elliotsville Township
PARK: Elliotsville Plantation & Appalachian National Scenic Trail
PRIVATE PROPERTY: Yes (the first 1.1 miles of the hike is on land privately owned by the Elliotsville Plantation)
TYPE: Lower and middle falls are slides and cascades; upper falls is a horsetail
HEIGHT: Lower falls are 18 feet; middle falls are 25-foot total drop; upper falls are 40 feet
WATER SOURCE: Little Wilson Stream
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium
TRAIL LENGTH: To lower falls, roadside; to middle falls, 0.35 mile one-way; to upper falls, 1.3 miles one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: To lower and middle falls, easy; to upper falls, moderate
HIKING TIME: To lower falls, negligible; to middle falls, 10 minutes one-way; to upper falls, 50 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: To lower falls, negligible; to middle falls, up 50 feet; to upper falls, up 350 feet, down 50 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: Late-May to early-October
SWIMMING: Great at lower and middle falls; not possible at upper falls
DELORME ATLAS: 2015: Page 41, E-4 (the falls are marked on the ME atlas as "Little Wilson Falls & Gorge")
HANDICAP ACCESS: Yes (only the lower falls are visible from roadside)
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2017)
LENS TO BRING: Lower falls: standard (35-70mm) and/or short-telephoto (70-105mm)
Upper falls: wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm); wide-angle is preferred
ALTERNATE NAMES: Little Wilson Falls & Gorge, Little Wilson Falls, Upper Falls
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 45.375500, -69.448500
GPS-WATERFALL: Lower falls: 45.375222, -69.449285
Upper falls: 45.373667, -69.471833
COMPASS: Lower falls: 80° excluding declination (the falls face east)
Upper falls: 160° excluding declination (the falls face north)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: No, the falls are not currently included within the guidebook
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THE FALLS

There are several dozen waterfalls directly visible from the Appalachian Trail as you hike from Georgia to Maine (or vice versa if you are a 'South-bounder'). The upper falls of Little Wilson Stream is one of the very best. The gorge surrounding the upper falls is one of the most rugged east of the Mississippi. The gorge is up to 50 feet tall and is completely vertical on the opposite side of the stream. Within the gorge is a tempting pool, if not for the fact you'd be risking death if you tried to access it.

The upper falls drop over two dozen steep steps of exposed bedrock. Views of the upper falls are excellent and are unobstructed. In fact, you simply can't miss the falls if you are hiking the Appalachian Trail because the trail passes directly by them. A wide-angle lens is highly recommended if you plan to shoot the upper falls, although photographs struggle to completely convey the rugged beauty of this spot.

En route to the upper falls, you will also pass the 18-foot lower falls, which is a medium-angle set of slides and cascades, and the 25-foot middle falls, which drop over the course of 150 feet of stream. Both the lower and middle falls have large and deep pools for swimming, although the water is typically dark, which some may find unappealing.

Many thanks are due to conservationist Roxanne Quimby, and the managers of the Elliotsville Plantation. Most of the access trail passes through their nature preserve, which is currently open to the public.

TRAIL INFORMATION

From the parking area at the end of the dirt road within the Elliotsville Plantation, follow a blue-blazed trail as it heads upstream with the stream on your right. Although this trail is well-marked, easy to follow and never particularly steep, it is rated as moderate because it is full of (often-slippery) roots. The 18-foot lower falls are only 200 feet away from the parking area. Various small cascades and pools will be seen as you continue upstream, About 0.35 mile from the parking area, the middle falls can be seen dropping a total of 25 feet, with two nice pools for swimming. A side path leads closer to these falls, but you'll have to do some scrambling if you wish to directly access the pools.

To continue to the main (upper) falls, the trail takes a hard left at the middle falls and switchbacks up the hillside before continuing directly upstream again. After hiking nearly continuously uphill for 1.1 miles, you will reach a T-junction with the Appalachian Trail. Turn left and follow the Appalachian Trail as it heads south for 0.2 mile to the falls. A short spur trail leads 40 feet gently down to the midpoint of the falls, where a spectacular view of the falls and gorge is presented. A wide-angle lens is really needed to capture the beautify of these falls in their entirety from this spot. In addition to the lower viewpoint, continue uphill along the Appalachian Trail to enjoy views from both the top of the falls and near the top of them. All three viewpoints provide vastly different perspectives and photographic opportunities.

DIRECTIONS

From the post office building in downtown Monson, take the combined highway ME 15 north and ME 6 west for 0.5 mile and turn right onto Elliotsville Rd, which ultimately leads to the Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary. Follow Elliotsville Rd northeast for 7.6 miles and take a left onto a narrow, rough, and sometimes muddy dirt road that enters a nature preserve within the Elliotsville Plantation. This dirt road, which is normally fine for most SUVs and trucks but may not be suitable for other passenger vehicles, is just before a bridge over Big Wilson Stream. This road is also directly across from the parking pull-off on Elliotsville Rd that is used to visit Big Wilson Falls.

If you are unwilling or unable to drive your vehicle down this rough road, drive 100 feet along the road and park in a pull-off on the left. It's an easy and nearly flat 0.7 mile walk to the trailhead from there. Otherwise, drive 0.4 mile along this road and you will reach a fork. Fork left and drive 0.3 mile further to a large parking area at the end of the road. If upon reaching this fork you determine that you have had enough of driving on this road, there is plenty of space to park so that you can walk the final and easy 0.3 mile to the official trailhead. The official trailhead is used to access the middle, lower, and upper falls on Little Wilson Stream.

To get to Monson, take ME 16 east from Bingham and turn left onto the combined highway ME 15 north and ME 6 west in Abbott. You can also reach Monson by taking ME 15 north from Bangor or Dover-Foxcroft.

UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION

NONE NOTED.

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 gparsons66@hotmail.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

OPTIONAL HIKES

None noted.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine
the upper falls of Little Wilson Falls

Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine
the upper falls of Little Wilson Falls

Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine
the upper falls of Little Wilson Falls

Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine
the upper falls of Little Wilson Falls

Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine
Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine

Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine
the upper falls of Little Wilson Falls

Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine
the upper falls of Little Wilson Falls

Little Wilson Falls-Upper Falls, Maine
the trail register beside the upper falls of Little Wilson Falls

INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?

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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.

HELPFUL LINKS

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
       

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  • Request to join the "Northeastern Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Vermont Waterfalls" 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! Newenglandwaterfalls.com 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!