Andover North Surplus,
(click for larger image)
||Andover North Surplus
||Upper Falls is horsetails and fans; lower falls is a plunge
||Lower Falls is 80 feet; upper falls is 70-foot total drop
||West Branch of the Ellis River
||2.0 mile loop
||Moderate side of difficult
||Up 350 feet, down 350 feet
|Best Time To Visit:
||July through October
||Not Possible and/or Prohibited
||Page 18, D-2 (marked)
|Included in Guidebook:
||Yes (Included in 2nd Edition of book as a full chapter)
|Cost to Visit:
The two-mile loop trail that encircles Dunn Falls offers more than just two of the highest rated waterfalls in Maine. As you hike this trip, you will find swimming holes, travel a stretch of the 2,160 mile Appalachian Trail, and discover lower and upper Dunn Falls, plus a half-dozen smaller, unnamed cascades. With so many natural features, we would have to say that a trip to Dunn Falls is sure to leave a lasting impression on everyone.
Discovering the remote Lower Dunn Falls is as surprising as finding any waterfall in Maine. Before you reach the side trial to view Dunn Falls only miniature horsetails and cascades will be spotted. How shocking and mind-boggling the nearly-vertical 80 feet drop of lower Dunn
Falls is to the virgin eye! With rock walls up to 100 feet in height on opposite sides of the falls, the area is outstandingly scenic. Take your camera for this waterfall, but beware that you will need to rock-hop upstream to earn the best view of the lower falls. The falls can also be seen safely from above along the Appalachian Trail, but these views are limited.
As if the lower falls is not visually appealing and mentally satisfying enough, more gems lie ahead on the trail. Just before the upper falls lays two lovely rocky-bottom pools, each with small falls cascading into them. The first pool, about 80 feet in circumference, is surrounded by semi-circular rock walls, with the waterfall flowing through a gap in the wall. The second pool has a similar structure and almost-equal dimensions, but behind the pool lies a 70-foot secret; the elusive upper falls. Although half-hidden by the forest, this fanning horsetail is beautiful and adds a perfect ending to the waterfalls on this trip.
To find the trailhead, walk 200 feet downhill (heading east) along the road and look for where the white-blazed Appalachian Trail crosses the road. You will want to take the southbound section of the Appalachian Trail, which is across the street from the parking area.
The trail starts by descending 150 feet down to a junction just before a brook. Take a left onto the blue-blazed Cascade Trail instead of continuing across the brook on the Appalachian Trail. The Cascade Trail, which will guide you closer towards Lower Dunn Falls, eventually loops back to the Appalachian Trail at the top of the lower falls. From the junction, follow the Cascade Trail downstream (the brook will be on your right) for 0.5 mile, at which point you will have to cross the brook. Depending on water conditions, this can be an easy rock-hop or it can be a slightly more challenging affair that requires you to remove your boots and walk across the stream through the water. After crossing the brook, continue along the trail as it ascends and descends, steeply at times, several small ridges. You will reach a second water crossing 0.25 mile beyond the first. This crossing of the wide West Branch of the Ellis River can also be a challenge in high water, but it is almost always do-able.
About 200 feet beyond this second crossing, you will reach a fork in the trail. The left fork heads uphill and connects back with the Appalachian Trail in 0.2 mile at the top of the lower falls. To reach the base of Lower Dunn Falls, take the right fork and head closely along the riverbed upstream for 0.2 mile on another blue-blazed trail. This is a rougher section of trail than what you have encountered so far, and it requires some careful maneuvering along the way. This is not a family-friendly section of the trail and is constantly changing due to erosion. The trail ends at the base of the mighty lower falls.
After visiting Lower Dunn Falls, double back to the junction at the fork, and continue climbing uphill along the Cascade Trail this time. After 0.2 mile beyond this junction, take a right onto the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. Only 50 feet later, cross the West Branch of the Ellis River at the top of the lower falls. If you are uncomfortable crossing the river so close to the plunge of the lower falls, it is possible to bushwhack upstream and cross where the danger is less imminent.
Just after crossing the river, the Appalachian Trail will continue straight, eventually leading you back to your vehicle. To reach the upper falls, take a left instead onto a new trail at a sign directing you towards the “Upper Falls”. This junction is only 10 feet beyond the river crossing above the top of the lower falls.
The trail to the Upper Falls also follows a blue-blazed trail. This section of trail is very straightforward and passes several small but interesting cascades before the magnificent 70-foot drop is unfolded before you. The trail does not end at the base of the upper falls; there is a very steep scramble that will bring you to the uppermost section of the falls, where you can practically reach out and touch the falling water. This is the best viewpoint in our opinion, and completely conducive to earning outstanding photographs. A wide-angle lens is most useful here.
After absorbing the moment at the upper falls, return downstream to the junction with the Appalachian Trail. Do not cross the West Branch of the Ellis River. Instead, take a left onto the Appalachian Trail and follow it northbound for 0.7 mile to complete the loop and return to the parking area. You will have to cross the same brook you saw only 150 feet from the road when you first started this loop. Cross the brook and climb uphill back to your vehicle.
Directions for this particular waterfall are not posted online. Please see directions in our published guidebook, New England Waterfalls: A Guide to More Than 400 Cascades And Waterfalls, or you can email us and we will happily provide them to you. When requesting directions via email, please remember to specify which particular waterfall(s) you are looking for directions to.
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