Roadtrip: Grafton Notch and Step Falls Preserve


Mr. Cleaver & I took advantage of the wedding to stay at a B&B and enjoy a mini-vacation in Bethel.


Since the wedding didn't start until the late afternoon on Saturday, we took the morning to do some hiking. Based on a recommendation from our lovely  innkeepers at the Rivendell B&B, we took the drive up Route 26 to Grafton Notch State Park.


Grafton Notch is unusual for a state park in that the highway literally runs through the middle of it. The portions of the park we explored were all accessible via little pull-off parking lots off 26. Each of the falls were little mini-hikes that took no more than 10-15 minutes tops.

In all of the spots we stopped at in Grafton Notch, the landscape had been carved by glacial runoff, and nowhere was this more evident than our first stop, Moose Cave Gorge.

Moose Cave Gorge

As you approach the gorge the temperature noticeably drops from the ice cold waters still running through the cavern. The drop was incredibilty steep, and apparently earned its name from an unfortunate moose that slipped and landed inside.

Moose Cave Gorge

The next stop south was Mother Walker Falls. Due to the season, most of the falls were less full than they would be in the spring, but the newly turning color in the trees made up for any lack of rushing water.

River Run

Mother Walker Upstream

My favorite of the three stops at Grafton Notch was Screw Auger Falls.

Upper Screw Auger Falls

The most sprawling of the three falls, Screw Auger features a small upper and dramatic lower falls, as well as a number of beautiful picnic spots upstream.

Lower Screw Auger Falls

Taking in the Falls

Upstream at Screw Auger Falls

Our last stop was just outside of the state park at the Nature Conservancy's Step Fall Preserve. Also off 26 - Step Falls has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it sign, but is well worth the hunt.

Step Falls

The climb to the top of the falls is steep (and due to concerns about time, we didn't quite make it all the way up), but the view is breaktaking.

View from Step Falls

Now that I know how relatively short a drive Bethel is from Portland, I'd love to make a number of return trips to this beautiful area.

Speaking of trips, I'd added a Roadtrip tab to the top of page to collect the posts on the other lovely spots we've visited.

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