After wishing my mother a Happy Mother’s Day, I decided to honor her with a relaxing Sunday drive. Sunday afternoons were the time to take a family drive without set destination, just getting in the car to see where the journey would lead and stopping if you felt like it because you had nowhere to be.
So I filled up the gas tank and to start by heading north towards the Sunday River Bridge in Newry, Maine. The 87 foot bridge, built in 1872, is also called the Artist’s Bridge because of its reputation as being the most photographed and painted of the nine covered bridges in Maine.
Just a short drive from Bethel, the bridge looked like what you would expect to see in “Sleepy Hollow.” It offers lovely views of the Sunday River and there are trails that you can also get some pretty views.
Not far up the road, still in Newry, I came upon a sign for Step Falls Preserve and pulled into the parking area to explore. I learned Step Falls was The Nature Conservancy’s first preserve in Maine, however it has since been turned over to a land trust. The 24-acre preserve features an easy walk to the base of the falls and a longer, steeper climb to the top, where the view of the surrounding mountains is breathtaking. Glacial melt water carved Wight Brook at the end of the last ice age. The falls flow over granite with veins of milky quartz.
There are many ‘steps’ to the fall which falls a total of 200’ in elevation. It was quite nice, and I could have spent a lot of time exploring different cascades and angles to photograph. But, I had more journey ahead of me.
As trees fell away in my rearview mirror, the road began to climb up to Grafton Notch State Park. What a pleasant surprise! Not long after entering the park I came to Screw Auger Falls, which was very impressive. The main plunge is dramatic, but also the natural arches, flowing into a wide river area before making a sharp right and plunging again. It was my favorite find of today’s journey.
Another mile further up the road and I came to a small parking lot for Mother Walker Falls. Mother Walker Falls is a 980-foot-long flume that drops about one hundred feet as it steps down through a narrow gorge. Before the water reaches that flume drop, it’s more of a series of pools and cascades. There were families picnicking on the boulders for Mother’s Day.
And yet, another short distance up the road was a turn off for Moose Cave. Moose Cave isn’t a cave at all, but rather a very narrow opening leading into a 45′ deep and narrow flume through bedrock where water flows and temporarily disappears by this cave opening beneath a granite slab. According to the legend, a moose fell into the cave and became trapped. A hunter heard the cries of the moose, but instead of offering it help he shot the moose, removed him and ate him for dinner. Strange but true Maine fashion – why waste the opportunity.
So I continued driving over the notch and could see a few old stone walls and parts of the former roadway through this mountain range before I entered the VERY small town of Upton. This is where the journey ended because the town is so small they didn’t have anything to eat and I was getting hungry and had to turn around. I understand that Upton is one of the premier fishing destinations in New England, but they must have to fish to eat. It’s probably a hot spot for snowshoeing in winter.
Next time I’ll pack a picnic. (check for photos under Grafton Notch photo section at http://emiling.com)