The Cataracts

Location: Andover, West Surplus, ME
Stream  : Frye Brook.
Finding : Easy -- if you keep out a sharp eye.
Access  : Some hiking.

Wednesday, June 12, 1996

Heavy rains this afternoon due to thunderstorms filled the rivers and streams to flood capacity and beyond. As a result, these falls were extermely spectacular.

I followed East Hill Road out of Andover for several miles. At the spot were Frye Brook crosses under the road there is a trailhead. It is marked with a sign that it easily seen from the car if you are watching for it (but also easily missed). On the other side of the road from the sign there is an obvious parking area.

The trail climbs up along Frye Brook which today was a raging torrent of amazing proportions. The trail itself was covered with water and I often had to jump small little streams that were gurgling their way downhill to add their contribution to the river.

After a short distance, the trail climbed up a steep incline and came to the first falls (Picture [133 KBytes]). This falls plumeted down a narrow rock crevice and into a large pool. It dropped over 50 feet with a great rush and noise. The problem was that a large shoulder of rock prevented me from seeing the main part of the falls. From below I could see the outlet of it into the pool, and from above I could sit right at the lip of the falls where it began its plunge. However, I could not get a view of the entire falls! I think the best view would be from the other side of the stream. There the sides of the ravine above the pool were not quite as steep and it looked as if a person could get into an ideal viewing position. But the stream was uncrossable and I didn't want to double back to the road in order to bushwack up the other side.

I followed the trail upstream and soon came to the second falls (Picture [128 KBytes]). Here the brook flowed over a large, rocky outcrop. Unlike the lower falls, I was able to get a good view of this one. Amazing! The stream was blasting itself against a large rock that was itself completely submerged in raging foam. As the water flowed around the rock, it spurted over it in a spectacular plume that shot many feet into the air. Even where I was, 20 or 30 feet away, I was sometimes splashed by the droplets raining down from that plume!

I followed the trial upstream some more and before long came to the third falls. Here the trail crossed the stream to what looked like a picnic area. Crossing would have been unthinkable, but I didn't mind as it looked like there were no more falls anyway.

At the third falls, the stream plunged into a narrow, rocky chasm maybe 10 or 15 feet deep. There was a rock platform just a little ways downstream that allowed me to look right up into the chasm. It would have been a great picture. However, today the force of the water was so great that I was being showered with mist and wind as I stood on the platform. I could barely open my eyes to see the falls myself; I was not about to take my camera out! I'm sure that in more subdued times, it would be a lovely spot.

Highly recommended.

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© Copyright 1996 by Peter Chapin.
Last Revised: July 30, 1996