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Acquired in 1962, Step Falls was The Nature Conservancy’s first preserve in Maine. In October 2012, The Nature Conservancy transferred ownership of the preserve to the Mahoosuc Land Trust. The 24-acre western Maine preserve features an easy walk to the base of the falls and a longer 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 flows over granite criss-crossed with veins of milky quartz. The Mahoosuc Land Trust is excited and pleased to own the preserve and plans to improve the parking area and trail and update the signage.
Dawn to Dusk
To learn more about the logic behind these rules, please read our complete list of preserve use policies.
What You’ll See
The trail to the base of Step Falls passes through stands of spruce and fir to a hemlock forest. The trail then follows the brook through woods dominated by white birch, beech, hemlock, white oak, fir and spruce. At the upper edge of the preserve is a small grove of red pine trees.
The dramatic chutes and pools of today’s falls are only the latest chapter in a story that began over 360 million years ago. Eroded sediments accumulated to form shales that were then transformed by heat and pressure into schist and quartzite as the surrounding mountains grew. Molten rock hardened to form granite in cracks within the schist and quartzite. About 12,000 years ago, as the glaciers of the last ice age retreated, torrential meltwaters carved Wight Brook gorge. Today, the erosion and change at Step Falls continues; spring runoff can reach volumes large enough to move large granite slabs.
Download a preserve map. (335KB.pdf)
Take Route 26 to Newry from Route 2 in Bethel. The preserve is on the right, just before Wight Brook, about eight miles from Route 2. The preserve is ten miles from the New Hampshire border, 14 miles northwest of Bethel and one-half mile southeast of Grafton Notch State Park. Please park in the field near the brook.