South Berwick, Maine

RATING: 1.5 / 5.0 stars (Fair) Orris Falls, Maine
(see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Maine
TOWN: South Berwick
PARK: Orris Falls Conservation Area
TYPE: Plunge and cascades
HEIGHT: 12-foot total drop
WATER SOURCE: Unknown (there is a good chance that it is unnamed)
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.7 mile one-way
HIKING TIME: 20 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 30 feet, down 30 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: April to November
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: 2015: Page 2, E-4 (the falls are not marked on the ME atlas)
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2017)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 43.280009, -70.720217
GPS-WATERFALL: 43.275167, -70.710833
COMPASS: 355° excluding declination (the falls face south)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: No, the falls are not currently included within the guidebook
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This is a small waterfall within one of the fine properties conserved by the Great Works Regional Trust. Although obtaining satisfactory views of the falls is very difficult, hiking to the falls is enjoyable and there are some other attractions within the Orris Falls Conservation Area. Within close proximity to the falls is an old cemetery and some interesting foundation ruins. There is also a fascinating balanced rock a short hike away (see here for photos of that rock).

The thin and seasonal falls pass through a rocky gap and drop 12-feet into an nearly-vertical ravine. This long and steep ravine is surely one of southern Maine's most impressive. A ridge on one side of the ravine provides various views of the falls, but they are unfortunately all mostly obstructed. You can score a view from the top of the falls fairly easily, but watch your footing when exploring that area.


On a visit in June of 2017, a sign at the trailhead in indicated that the hike to the falls was 0.9 mile one-way. However, it seemed more like 0.7 mile to me.

From the parking area, walk around the metal gate and start hiking along an old road into the woods. After 0.2 mile, bear left at a fork to stay on the main path. After 0.4 mile, you will reach another fork. Bear left and cross into the actual Orris Falls Conservation Area as you start ascending a hill. After 0.6 mile, bear right as another trail goes left towards the "Big Bump". Be sure to step 20 feet off the trail here to view some neat old foundation ruins. About 100 feet beyond the junction and foundation ruins, you will reach a footbridge over a brook. Don't cross the bridge; instead, turn right onto a trail that heads downstream with the brook on your left. Hike 300 feet downstream and you'll see the falls on your left, dumping into a 90-foot deep ravine. The trail continues for a few tenths of mile downstream, but there are no additional falls to be found.

There is no safe access into the ravine, and so views of these falls are extremely limited. You can stand near the top of the falls fairly easy, but watch your footing. There are some limited views of the falls from the ridge just downstream of them as well.


From the southern junction of ME 4 and ME 9 in North Berwick, take ME 4 south for 1.9 miles and turn left onto Knights Pond Rd. If you are traveling on ME 4 north from South Berwick, Knights Pond Rd will be on your right 4.0 miles beyond the northern junction of ME 4 and ME 236. Drive 0.8 mile east on Knights Pond Rd (also called Harvey Rd on some maps) and turn left onto Hooper Sands Rd. Drive 0.1 mile on Hooper Sands Rd and turn left onto Great Hill Rd. Drive 0.6 mile on Great Hill Rd and turn left onto Thurrell Rd. Drive 0.9 mile on Thurrell Rd and park on the right at a trailhead that can currently fit about 3 vehicles.

To get to North Berwick or South Berwick, take NH 4 north from Dover, New Hampshire to ME 4 north.



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


There are several miles of trails within the conservation area. In addition to the falls, other highlights in the park include a large balanced rock and foundation ruins.


Orris Falls, Maine
an unobstructed view of Orris Falls (all views from the edge of the ravine are unfortunately obstructed like this)

Orris Falls, Maine
Orris Falls, Maine

Orris Falls, Maine
trailhead sign for Orris Falls

Orris Falls, Maine
Orris Falls, Maine

Orris Falls, Maine
some foundation ruins near the falls

Orris Falls, Maine
Orris Falls, Maine


Our 376-page New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition guidebook contains detailed information on over 400 waterfalls throughout New England. Click on the image below to read reviews and/or purchase the guidebook on Amazon.com.

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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

And if you'd like to follow the New England Waterfalls page on Facebook, click here.


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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!