Just south of the town of Rangeley, the “Smalls Falls Rest Area” attracts more than just travelers looking for a driving break. Smalls Falls, with its scenic waterfall, colorful gorge, and fine swimming holes, welcomes all, often including visitors from all over New England.
It does not take much water flow to make this waterfall impressive enough to please all its visitors. Just a tiny stream can create a false sense of whitewater power. This is attributable to the fact that the river upstream is considerably wider than the width of water that flows over the four sets of falls at Smalls Falls.
The bottom of Small Falls consists of a 3-foot cascade falling into a 20-foot wide circular pool. The next waterfall up is a 14-foot fanning horsetail with a deep oblong-shaped pool people tend to jump into from above, a stunt that is highly dangerous. Even further up the trail, you will find a 25-foot segmented waterfall, with a plunge on the left and segmented horsetail on the right. The top waterfall is a 12-foot horsetail and slide. Beyond the final falls of Small Falls lies tiny plunges and cascades with equally clear and beautiful water. The only potential detraction from these great views are the chain link fences keeping you safe from falling over the rock walls, an acceptable price to pay for a dangerous alternative.
All four sets of falls are found within a one of most colorful and beautiful gorges in the region. Its colors consist of beiges, oranges, greens, blacks, browns, gold, and ivory. There are plenty of places to sit along the gorge walls and bask in the beauty of the wide open area.
Other features that make this waterfall so popular are the pools to swim in and the numerous places to picnic. At the base of each plunge, cascade, and horsetail is a pool to either wade or swim in. At the base of the lowest fall is a rocky beach, leading to the pool. There are also bathrooms, picnic tables, and fire pits—altogether, a place as accommodating as any picnic spot you can find.
A short boardwalk trail begins at the far end of the parking lot. After descending a set of stairs, the bottom pool and lower falls will come into view. Cross the bridge over the river and climb up the left side of the gorge along a metal fence if you wish to continue exploring upstream. Within a 0.1 mile, you will observe four distinct sets of falls, and eventually reach the top of the gorge and other popular swimming areas.
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.
SPECIAL NOTES / UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION: