StepFalls Preserve LbNA # 55263
|Placed Date||Aug 1 2010|
Step Falls is a spectacular long chain of descending horsetails and cascades that lies a few miles outside of the eastern border of Grafton Notch State Park. Acquired in 1962, Step Falls was The Nature Conservancy’s first preserve in Maine. Situated on a 24-acre property, Step Falls has been a popular attraction for waterfall fanatics and swimming hole lovers for decades. The preserve features an easy walk to the base of the falls and a longer climb to the top, where the view of the surrounding mountains is breathtaking. Glacial melt water carved Wight Brook at the end of the last ice age. The falls flows over granite criss-crossed with veins of milky quartz. During spring runoff, the water volume can supposedly reach up to 500 cubic feet per second. In the summer months, however, horsetails and plunges transform into skinny, nearly powerless slides, and dozens of water-sculptured paths that existed in spring often dry up. As if being one of the tallest falls in Maine is not enough, Step Falls also has numerous shallow pools. Along the edges of the pools are broad, mostly flat, sunny granite slabs that meet every requirement for a relaxing picnic. Be aware that signs at the falls indicate that pets are not welcome here.
This hike starts off very easy but can be tricky and a little more difficult towards the end.
This box is located near the top of the falls…approx. 1.5mi.
From the parking area, walk north on the obvious trail into the woods. Soon after entering the woods, the Nature Conservancy has set up a self-registration box with information describing the geology, history and a description of Step Falls.
After registering, continue up the yellow-marked trail to all sections of the falls. (There will be several trail markers…white, blue, yellow…just stick to the trail that follows as close to the falls as possible).
Towards the top of the falls, keep a lookout for ‘Preserve Boundary” signs (close to the edge of the falls)
At this point, the trail will start to narrow and get a bit steeper.
Next, look for 3 birch trees leaning towards the water and a fish locker w/metal cover beside a man-made dam.
On the opposite bank there is a large boulder with 3 or 4 trees on top...
The box is at the base of these trees!
This is a beautiful spot, be sure to bring a bathing suit if the weather is warm enough!
Enjoy and Good Luck!
Take Route 26 to Newry from Route 2 in Bethel. The preserve is on the right, just before Wight Brook, about eight miles from Route 2. The preserve is ten miles from the New Hampshire border, 14 miles northwest of Bethel and one-half mile southeast of Grafton Notch State Park. Please park in the field near the brook.
The dramatic chutes and pools of today’s falls are only the latest chapter in a story that began over 360 million years ago. Eroded sediments accumulated to form shales that were then transformed by heat and pressure into schist and quartzite as the surrounding mountains grew. Molten rock hardened to form granite in cracks within the schist and quartzite. About 12,000 years ago, as the glaciers of the last ice age retreated, torrential melt waters carved Wight Brook gorge. Today, the erosion and change at Step Falls continues; spring runoff can reach volumes large enough to move large granite slabs