Chasing Rangeley's Waterfalls
Rangeley is well known for its lakes and mountains, but a short turn off the main road will reveal some hidden gems. There are several waterfalls in and around Rangeley, each offering a unique experience.
Smalls Falls is the most accessible waterfall, adjacent to a rest area on Route 4 between Madrid and Rangeley. Park at the back of the rest area and follow steps to a small bridge. From here you can observe the Sandy River as it descends in an impressive series of cascades, each with a "plunge pool".
After crossing the bridge you can climb up alongside the falls to visit each of the cascades. The best pools are near the top and offer a refreshing dip. Please don't approach the edge of the pools - it's a long drop to the next one!
More trails lead to another section of cascades, on Chandler Mill Stream. These are less frequented and they will be quieter on a busy summer day.
Cascade Stream Gorge
Cascade Stream Gorge is a short drive from The Rangeley Inn, 3 miles south on Route 4 to Townhall Road. A sign indicates a steep dirt road that leads to the parking area. From here it's a short hike to the gorge. Follow a well maintained path up stone steps to view the first cascade. Continue along the gorge and follow the trail up log steps to another cascade with a pool.
There are several points where you can climb down into the gorge to swim in the ice cold water, but watch your step. The rocks can be very slippery!
These trails are maintained by the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, a local organization that helps to conserve special places like this so we may continue to enjoy them.
Angel Falls is the trickiest waterfall to visit. Access is via dirt roads for around 14 miles. We recommend parking alongside Bemis Road and then walking down the private road to the trail. The trail is a just over a half mile long, but it is rocky in sections and it requires multiple stream crossings. Be prepared to get wet!
The biggest challenge with Angel Falls is timing. The waterfall is at its best after heavy rain - but that's also when the stream is higher and when the road might have wash outs. If you visit when it's dry, the waterfall might be a trickle. So plan accordingly and you will be duly rewarded. We recommend following the driving directions in Maine Trail Finder.
It's not quite a waterfall, but Coos Canyon boasts a beautiful series of rapids on the Swift River. It is located alongside Route 17 in the town of Byron, about halfway to Rumford. Pair this with a visit to Angel Falls and/or the Height of Land scenic overlook.
There is a picnic area overlooking Coos Canyon and if the water isn't too high you can easily walk down on the rocks. We don't advise swimming here. There's a reason it's called the Swift River.