Pictures courtesy of Jim Blackwood
Overall Rating: 4/5
SWIMMING NOT ALLOWED. PERIOD.
Hike Time: Negligible
Hike Difficulty: Easy
In a truly beautiful little stop along Route 26 in Maine, you can find an absolutely stunning gorge. It’s really only worth a stop if you’re in the area, but it can also be nice to take a little time, enjoy the view and a pack lunch, and even explore a little!
There’s parking for a good lot of cars and even on a summer day (we visited in August on a Friday), there was very little traffic. The trail is easily seen and can easily be followed down the hill from the parking lot. Follow the stairs down the hill to the footbridge and you’ll have a view from right on top of the gorge. When you arrive, you may get the feeling that the sound is even more powerful than the view! Rushing water flows through the bends of the nearly 30ft tall walls of the gorge.
If you want to just see the gorge, you’ve found the right place to stop. However, if you’re like me, and like to see what’s around, head further over that foot bridge and there’s a few things you’ll find. To the left when you step off the bridge, you’ll see an old arch way with metal rungs. When we looked around a bit, we though it might have been part of an old mill. Further exploration led us to find that a small stream from the gorge leads through the archway and plunges back down into the Little Androscoggin River. As you can see in one of the pictures, I was trying to be a butt and prove to my dad that it was safe to sit near/on the little rock ledges that are in front of that arch, but to be quite honest, I was scared and I’m pretty sure it’s not as safe as I would like to say it is. Please take caution with little ones, that or assess the area yourself first.
If you walk to the right from the bridge, there’s a whole natural area with boulders and blocks from an old mill that you can sit on and enjoy the sounds and sights of the area around you. Keep going straight and you’ll come to a small peninsula of rocks where you can sit, sunbathe and dip your feet in the water.
One thing I must reiterate: do not, I repeat, DO NOT attempt to swim here. Like previously mentioned, upstream from the gorge, there’s a little area you can dip your feet in while sitting on the rocks, but, as we saw from a little duck struggling to head back upstream, there is an extremely strong current here. If you fall down that gorge, you could end up with some pretty severe bumps and bruises, if not… well, ya know: the worst of all. Just be aware, be cautious and be mindful of little ones.
While it may not be worth it to take a specific daytrip to Snow Falls, you should definitely stop if you’re in the area. To find Snow Falls Gorge, all you have to do is take Route 26 (Bethel Rd) into West Paris, ME. The rest area is on the south side of the road. Pull in, park and take a look around!
Have fun and be safe!