Smalls Falls, a northern Maine gem, has consistently been one of my favorite places on earth to visit, no matter the season. Whether you’re sliding down a nature-made water slide to cool off in the heat of summer, cheering on adventurers kayaking 25’ waterfalls in the wet swell of spring, or being dazzled by the beauty of the snowy fractals lining the falls, Smalls Falls is the perfect place to relax in the glory of nature.
Though no specific hours are posted, this is a daytime stop. Low light plus slippery wet rocks over a waterfall is a recipe for disaster. Plenty of parking spots and large covered picnic areas make this great for large groups. There are also some (not-so-clean) restrooms as well – but I say something’s better than nothing (maybe bring some hand sanitizer).
Once you park and head towards the back of the lot, there are steps leading down to the falls area. Head across the bridge for a picturesque view of the bottom 3 falls, and take a right to find the steep gnarly trail leading to the top. There is both a wooded trail and a stony gorge trail, both with their own advantages. The wooded trail has a lush environment that allows for exploration and examination of dozens of types of mushrooms (Careful – Some mushrooms are extremely poisonous!), trees, and wildlife.
The rocky trail gives a better view of the falls themselves, and leads into areas were you can take dip at the bottom of each fall. There is a fence along this trail, and for good reason – the rocks can be extremely slippery. It’s against this fence where supporters gather for the annual Smalls to the Wall, in which talented athletes kayak these treacherous falls (truly impressive, bucket-list item!). Multiple small trails meander throughout the woods: some leading over to Chandler Mill Stream (colorful gorges and swift rushing river make this a great photo stop) and some lead up over a dirt road to reveal more of the picturesque rocky Sandy River.
For those unable to make the climb up to the top of the falls, there is a slow moving rocky stream perfect for little ones to splash in – just step down the stump step ladder before the bridge. If you go swimming in this bottom pool, you’re able to climb up the rocks in the area to the right of the fall and explore the pool behind. There’s even a nature-made water slide leading back into the bottom pool (I mean, come on, how cool is that!).
There are a total of 5 falls, each with their own unique quirks and charm, each pulling you deeper into love with this place. Whether you’re a mycologist, thrill seeker, nature lover, or just a motorist needing a quick place to relax – Smalls Falls has this unparalleled ability to bring everyone into the same state of curiosity and wonderment.