Further reading:

  • A Waterfall Guide to Southern Piscataquis County by Erik M. Stumpfel. A CD with commentary, directions and photos of over 30 waterfalls.
  • Maine Atlas and Gazetteer published by DeLorme. The best atlas for driving Maine’s rural roads.
  • Maine Mountain Guide by Carey Michael Kish. The Appalachian Mountain Club’s guide to hiking trails in Maine.
  • Maine’s Waterfalls, A Comprehensive Guide by Patricia Hughes.
  • New Enland Waterfalls, A Guide to More Than 400 Cascades and Waterfalls by Greg Parsons & Kate B. Watson.

Links to waterfall websites:

By Robert Merchant, Extension Educator
Natural Resources and Community Development
UMaine Cooperative Extension

Waterfalls are wonderful scenic places to rest and relax. Tumbling waters and cooling mists can sooth a hiker or a family on an outing in the Maine Woods. Here are few safety tips that will make your waterfall visit enjoyable, and safe.

Sturdy Footwear: Trails can be rough; full of stones, boulders, roots. Sturdy footwear provides support for feet and ankles in rugged terrain. Grippy soles provide sure footed traction around waterfalls which can be slippery, especially on a damp or rainy day.

Assess Hazards: When approaching a waterfall, look closely at the surfaces of exposed bedrock. Are the surfaces smooth or rough, flat or sloped, dry or wet? Smooth, wet bedrock like slate can be very slick and treacherous underfoot. Add in steeply sloping bedrock and you have a recipe for slip sliding away! Is water seeping across smooth surfaces? Avoid stepping on seeps which also can be very slippery. Even on a clear summer day, early morning mists make for slippery surfaces on slate. Always assess exposed bedrock surfaces. Go slowly, a step-at-a-time, putting your feet on drier, rougher, safer surfaces.

Swimming: Plunge pools below larger waterfalls can be treacherous! Rocks and ledges often lurk unseen below the surface. It would be foolish and dangerous to dive into any of them! While they may appear to be attractive swimming holes on a hot summer day, what about the possible hazards? At higher water levels, the larger plunge pools below waterfalls become very turbulent, can entrap and drown an unsuspecting swimmer.

Please be aware of these hazards and assert safe behaviors while exploring these beautiful waterfalls. We hope that you have a safe outing while enjoying the wonders of nature in our region.