Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The 1-mile hike in to the falls is on a wide woodland trail that is relatively flat. The challenging part of the walk is near the falls, where the terrain becomes hillier and rockier. Wooden stairs, bridges and platforms help visitors navigate this area and get good views of the falls from the ledges along the banks of Moxie Stream.
How to get there: From Route 201 in The Forks, take Moxie Pond Road (labeled Lake Moxie Road on DeLorme Maine Atlas & Gazetteer and Google Maps) and drive 1.9 miles to the trailhead, which will be on your left and marked with a large brown sign that reads “Moxie Falls Scenic Area.” The trail starts from the parking area.
Information: Plunging 90 feet into a pool surrounded by ledges, Moxie Falls is one of the tallest and most scenic waterfalls in New England. In the remote township of Moxie Gore, the waterfall is reached by a 1-mile hiking trail that is fairly wide, flat and easy to follow.
The terrain is mostly flat, with only a few gentle hills. About halfway to the waterfall, the trail crosses a woods road (which is a snowmobile trail in the winter) and continues through the forest to the edge of Moxie Stream. The trail then turns left and follows the stream to the waterfall.
As the trail nears the waterfall, the terrain becomes more rugged, with steeper slopes, exposed tree roots and rocky ledges. Watch your step and take care near the ledges. Several wooden bridges and stairs help visitors navigate the terrain to a few wooden platforms strategically located at the edge of the stream above and below the waterfall.
Visiting Moxie Falls is highly recommended in the 2003 book “New England Waterfalls: A Guide to More Than 400 Cascades and Waterfalls” by Greg Parsons and Kate B. Watson. In the guide, the authors write that Moxie Falls “offers a ruggedness matched by no other falls in New England.”
Moxie Falls Scenic Area is maintained by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. It was made available to the public through a 217 acre gift of land from Coburn Lands Trust and an agreement with Central Maine Power Co., according to a sign by the trail. Camping and fires are not permitted. The department asks that visitors clean up all litter and use caution near the falls.
Personal note: In the small town of Abbot, the JD Foundation was easy to find. Marked with a large sign, the red house sat at the corner of routes 15 and 16, and on Saturday, March 14, its driveway was filled with vehicles.
We arrived just in time to sign up for the hike, organized by the foundation’s Connecting with Nature outing group. Open to the public, the group embarks on wilderness walks almost weekly (depending on weather). And on March 14, the agenda was to visit two frozen waterfalls: Moxie Falls and Houston Brook Falls.
My fiance Derek and I were newcomers to the group, but we felt welcome right away. Walking through the front door of the JD Foundation, we entered a room filled with smiles, happy voices and laughter — all of which seemed to follow us throughout our day in the woods.
We headed to Moxie Falls first, stopping in William’s General Store in Bingham to fuel up on the way. Of the 24 people who showed up for the hike that day, some used snowshoes while others simply wore boots on the snowy trail, which was wide enough for people to walk side-by-side and chat along the way.
Packed snow covered the staircases and bridges by the waterfall, so our parade slowed down and people helped each other navigate the slippery slopes. The waterfall itself was completely frozen, a mass of ice and snow. In a few spots, we could see the water falling underneath, and at the base of the waterfall, the ice had melted where the current was the strongest. As I edged forward on a snowy ledge to take photos, I listened to people joke about taking a swim.
On the way back, the group paused to check out several trees filled with fresh holes drilled by woodpeckers. But being such a noisy large group, we didn’t actually see any critters that day — aside from Otie, the group leader’s pint-sized dog.