~ Smalls Falls, Maine ~

Just south of the town of Rangeley, the "Smalls Falls Rest Area" attracts more than just travelers looking for a driving break. Smalls Falls, with its scenic waterfall, colorful gorge, and fine swimming holes, welcomes all, often including visitors from all over New England. It does not take much water flow to make this waterfall impressive enough to please all its visitors. Just a tiny stream can create a false sense of whitewater power. This is attributable to the fact that the river upstream is considerably wider than the width of water that flows over the four sets of falls at Smalls Falls. The bottom of Small Falls consists of a 3-foot cascade falling into a 20-foot wide circular pool. The next waterfall up is a 14-foot fanning horsetail with a deep oblong-shaped pool people tend to jump into from above, a stunt that is highly dangerous. Even further up the trail, you will find a 25-foot segmented waterfall, with a plunge on the left and segmented horsetail on the right. The top waterfall is a 12-foot horsetail and slide. Beyond the final falls of Small Falls lies tiny plunges and cascades with equally clear and beautiful water. The only potential detraction from these great views are the chain link fences keeping you safe from falling over the rock walls, an acceptable price to pay for a dangerous alternative. All four sets of falls are found within a one of most colorful and beautiful gorges in the region. Its colors consist of beiges, oranges, greens, blacks, browns, gold, and ivory. There are plenty of places to sit along the gorge walls and bask in the beauty of the wide open area. Other features that make this waterfall so popular are the pools to swim in and the numerous places to picnic. At the base of each plunge, cascade, and horsetail is a pool to either wade or swim in.

Descending from the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains to the flatlands of the Sandy River Valley, the Smalls Falls area marks an approximate boundary where evergreen trees of the northern boreal forests give way to the southern mixed-wood species. Rich in diversity, this transition zone supports both hardwoods, such as ash, birch, beech and maple, and the softwoods cedar, fir, hemlock, pine and spruce. This mixture provides habitat for a variety of animals. And each fall, it provides for a wide array of color.

Geologists widely accept the theory that the Appalachian Mountains were created by the collision of continents drifting across the planet 400-480 million years ago. As the North American and European continents collided in a slow motion crash, their edges crumpled, North America atop Europe, stone was thrust upwars, and the mountain range was formed.

Some maintain the the Appalachians extend only from Maine to Georgia, however, the entire range runs from Newfoundland Island in eastern Canada down to central Alabama. The Adirondack Mountains of New York, which geologically belong to the Grenville Orogeny and have a different geological history to the rest of the Appalachians.

The Appalachians once reached elevations similar to those of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains before they were eroded. Some even say they rivaled the Himalayas in elevation. The Appalachians vary in width between 100 and 300 miles and are 1500 miles long. 480 million years of weathering and the grinding action of glaciers have taken their toll on the mountains and have worn them down to the current sizes and shapes.
Sources: Various websites.


Heading to Smalls Falls


Smalls Falls




Going over to make a jump

Adding a flip


There are pools at the base of each drop. I saw jumpers jumping into all of them except the top pool.


The water roared and the people watched


That flat area in the photo on the left is where the jumper lept from after I had walked up the trail a way. It was a long way to the water.



What it looks like from the top





It is a truly beautiful place


On left is as high as I went and on the right is a distance shot when I came back down


On the left is the Sandy River heading for the ocean after the falls. In the blurry photo on the right is a moose. He/she is betwen the road sign and the pole to the right of it. It is not a good photo as he was moving pretty quickly into the forest, but it was the first and only moose I have seen outside of Canada or Alaska.

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