Upper Dunn Falls, Maine

Upper Dunn Falls in September 2010

Upper Dunn Falls was pretty disappointing. I had seen really beautiful pictures of it, and yet when I visited, the falls was rather…meager? It probably doesn’t help that I had just seen Lower Dunn Falls, which I found to be really amazing. Because the rock narrows down the creek at Lower Dunn Falls, it “looks” like there was a lot of water flowing. On the other hand, the water fans out at Upper Dunn Falls, making it look like there wasn’t much water at all. In some pictures I’ve seen, there’s a lot more water, which definitely makes the falls look more powerful. When I visited, they looked weak.

Directions:

  1. From the junction of ME-120 and ME-5 in Andover, head west on Newton Street (aka East B Hill Rd. or Upton Hill Rd.). It’s not very clearly marked.
  2. Head west for a little over 8 miles to a “parking area” on your right. It’s a clearing with about enough space for 3 cars, though the road is quiet enough that you could pull off on the side. There is a sign indicating the Appalachian Trail on both sides of the road, but again, they’re not obvious, so you’ll have to probably get out and look around.
  3. Cross the street and head about 200 feet east, where you’ll find the beginning of the trail. A sign should indicate that this is a portion of the Appalachian Trail. There will be while blazes indicating the trail.
  4. After about 150 feet downward, you’ll come to a fork in the trail. If you head right, you’ll continue on the Appalachian Trail. If you head left, you’ll see blue blazes and a sign indicating the Cascade Trail. When I was there, the tree with the sign on it had fallen down, so you’ll have to look carefully. Choose the second path. You have not crossed any brook yet.
  5. Follow the trail for about 1/2 of a mile, where you’ll clearly have to cross the brook. (There are moments before that where it will seem like you should cross the stream, but don’t. This is the first time where you will see the blue blazes on the other side of the stream.)
  6. After about another 1/4 of a mile, you cross a second brook.
  7. After a very short distance, you’ll come to another fork. You can either head uphill or veer to the right. Head uphill for Upper Dunn Falls (right for Lower Dunn Falls).  After a short hike uphill, you have to cross the creek, which may be more difficult at high flow.  When I visited, it was VERY easy.  You will have to climb up a bank, which can be rather slippery, but it is not tall.
  8. Take a left and head town the trail with the sign indicating “Upper Falls” for a VERY short distance.  You should reach the falls quickly, though you may have to figure out the best way to photograph/view the falls.
  9. To return to the car, you can either follow the Appalachian Trail or return the way you came. I took the Appalachian Trail, and REALLY wish I hadn’t! There are no great views and at points it’s a tedious uphill climb. If you return by the Cascade Trail, you might see something you missed, and it’s a much easier return.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 70′
Length of Hike: 2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Upper Dunn Falls?

The Cataracts, Maine

One portion of the Cataracts in September 2010

The Cataracts doesn’t seem to be as popular as the other waterfalls nearby, but there are a number of falls nearby. Dunn Falls is impressive and also accessed by the exact same major road (especially Lower Dunn Falls). The Cataracts is also in the far northeast region of Grafton Notch State Park, which includes other falls I did not visit.

Now, I had already visited Dunn Falls, which requires a longer hike, and I had taken a path that wore me out more than expected. I couldn’t pass up visiting The Cataracts, though, since it’s also found off E.B. Hill (or Andover Road). The parking areas are only about 3 or 4 miles from each other.

The hike itself to the top of the falls is not hard at all. It was very beautiful, and pretty enjoyable. There is just one issue.  At the top of this falls, you really can’t get a very good view of the falls! It’s blocked by a bunch of trees. I could tell that it was a pretty impressive drop, though, so I decided to head back downhill and see if I could get a different view.

Now that decision had mixed results. To get this picture shown here, I started heading upstream near the bottom of the hill. (I’m guessing this was about 0.3 miles from the start?) At first it seems doable, until you get to some rather large rocks that are not easy to traverse  I had to grab onto large branches to essentially pull myself up the rocks. After that, you essentially rock (or boulder) hop for a ways. It could wear you down, but the reward is that you will see a beautiful waterfall, and probably be the only person standing there to get that view. (Very few people were there anyway.) I really wouldn’t suggest doing this unless you’re physically fit. The return is equally as complicated, and expect to get wet.

This is only one of the drops known as The Cataracts. There are others upstream (or downstream). I really didn’t search harder as I was pretty tired out by that point. Still check out this gem of a waterfall.

Directions:

  1. From the junction of ME-120 and ME-5 in Andover, head west on Newton Street (aka East B Hill Rd. or Upton Hill Rd.). It’s not very clearly marked.
  2. Head about 5.5 miles out of Andover. Around there, you’ll see a sign for Cataracts Road, and a road heading uphill. A pretty long parking area is found on the right of the road.
  3. After parking, head across the road and take the TRAIL, closely following the creek. I would suggest exploring the area for all of the different drops you might see.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy to top of falls), 2/10 (strenuous, to view in picture)

Where in the World is The Cataracts?

Lower Dunn Falls, Maine

Lower Dunn Falls in September 2010

Lower Dunn Falls has to go down as one of my favorite waterfalls in Maine, though I’ve only visited a small number of them. Let’s say it was one of my favorites through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, since I visited waterfalls in all three states over Labor Day weekend.

During Labor Day weekend, many of the waterfalls were bustling with activity…but not the two Dunn Falls. I was the only one on the trail at the time, and I had the whole waterfall to myself. I can understand why…it’s nowhere near as easy to get to as some of the other falls in the area. Now that’s not to say that it’s hard to get to. It’s actually a pretty enjoyable hike!

The initial portion of the hike is likely easier at low water. From the road, you start your very gradual descent, crossing a few different streams and creeks multiple times. In early September, there was enough water, but not too much! After some distance, you do start climbing back uphill. It’s enough to get your heartbeat up, but not so bad that you regret it! The final hike to the falls does require some minor stone-jumping, but it’s definitely worth it.

A final point…I can imagine that people have become lost while trying to find Dunn Falls. There are two different paths that lead in the general direction of the falls. The one along the Appalachian Trail might be easier to describe, but I would not choose that one, as there is way too much uphill climbing. The other path, while harder to describe, is easier on the body. I’m going to try and explain that below.

Directions:

  1. From the junction of ME-120 and ME-5 in Andover, head west on Newton Street (aka East B Hill Rd. or Upton Hill Rd.). It’s not very clearly marked.
  2. Head west for a little over 8 miles to a “parking area” on your right. It’s a clearing with about enough space for 3 cars, though the road is quiet enough that you could pull off on the side. There is a sign indicating the Appalachian Trail on both sides of the road, but again, they’re not obvious, so you’ll have to probably get out and look around.
  3. Cross the street and head about 200 feet east, where you’ll find the beginning of the trail. A sign should indicate that this is a portion of the Appalachian Trail. There will be while blazes indicating the trail.
  4. After about 150 feet downward, you’ll come to a fork in the trail. If you head right, you’ll continue on the Appalachian Trail. If you head left, you’ll see blue blazes and a sign indicating the Cascade Trail. When I was there, the tree with the sign on it had fallen down, so you’ll have to look carefully. Choose the second path. You have not crossed any brook yet.
  5. Follow the trail for about 1/2 of a mile, where you’ll clearly have to cross the brook. (There are moments before that where it will seem like you should cross the stream, but don’t. This is the first time where you will see the blue blazes on the other side of the stream.)
  6. After about another 1/4 of a mile, you cross a second brook.
  7. After a very short distance, you’ll come to another fork. You can either head uphill or veer to the right. Veer to the right to see the falls. You’ll have to rock-jump for part of the ways to get to the falls, which are not all that obvious until you get rather close to the falls.
  8. If you return to the original trail and head uphill, you can also access Upper Dunn Falls. To return to the car, you can either follow the Appalachian Trail or return the way you came. I took the Appalachian Trail, and REALLY wish I hadn’t! There are no great views and at points it’s a tedious uphill climb. If you return by the Cascade Trail, you might see something you missed, and it’s a much easier return.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: 2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Lower Dunn Falls?