It was the first day of our photography trip to Maine and I already needed to change plans. The forecast called for light to moderate rain for most of the day. I decided to head west and check out Grafton Notch State Park near the New Hampshire border. The overcast conditions would be perfect for long exposure waterfall photography if the rain wasn’t too heavy.
Screw Auger Falls
The trip was about an hour and 45 minute drive from our hotel in Freeport, Maine. It wasn't too long of a drive and we got to see parts of Maine that we've never experienced. For you coffee drinkers, don't worry there are plenty of Dunkin Donuts along the way.
I also found a few photo ops on Route 26 on the way to Grafton Notch State Park near the town of Newry. There is an old cemetery with a beautiful blooming bush, and also the white Newry Community Church was also worth a snap or two.
There are 3 main attractions in Grafton Notch State Park: Screw Auger Falls, Mother Walker Falls, and Moose Cave. In this blog post, I'll describe each attraction, the photo opportunities that it provides, the best locations to photograph, and GPS coordinates for each location.
Some of the GPS coordinates were about 1/10 of a mile off, but all the parking areas and pull offs were very well marked. There is a $2 fee ($3 for non Maine residents) for usage of the park. Payment is on the honor system. There is can to place the fee at both the Screw Auger Falls and Moose Cave parking areas. It's a nominal fee to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the park.
Screw Auger Falls
GPS Coordinates: 44.571972, -70.910031
Screw Auger Falls, Upper Cascade
In my opinion, Screw Auger Falls is the main photo opportunity in the park and well worth the drive. Screw Auger Falls is a 3 tiered falls cascading down into a rocky ravine.
The falls are a short walk from the parking area. Take the trail to the left and the falls are short walk away. There is a fence line next to the gorge for safety purposes. I found that there wasn't a clear shot of the 3 cascades from behind the fence line.
The best location to photograph the falls is from a large rock just past the fence line. You'll either need to climb through the fence or climb up on the rock just past the end of the fence line. The rock surface is also slanted toward the back so be careful not to step too far backwards.
Be careful and use this position outside the fence at your own risk!
If you don't want to risk the climb, try photographing the falls from the far end of the fence line.
There is also a smaller waterfall and several cascades upstream closer to the parking area. The water was low during our trip so I was able to walk out and get some close ups of the falls and rapids.
Mother Walker Falls
GPS Coordinates: 44.578297, -70.926741
In my opinion, Mother Walker Falls isn't much of a photo opportunity. There is a series of cascades and rapids through a gorge that can be photographed from an unmarked path to the left.
The main falls can be partially photographed as it disappears under a boulder by climbing a steep hill after crossing the dry stream bed. This is a steep climb that I tackled by grabbing on to trees and using my tripod as a hiking stick. The trail on the right side of the hill may be a slight bit easier to navigate.
I photographed the above shot by hanging my tripod over the edge and using a remote shutter release. The falls are a very short hike from the pullout. But, overall this stop may not be worth the effort.
GPS Coordinates: 44.583533, -70.936433
The trail for Moose Cave is loop that is about a half mile long and a fairly easy hike. Supposedly, the cave was named for an unlucky Moose that fell into the deep cave. For photographers, I didn't find moose cave to be a terrific landscape photo opportunity.
However, there is plenty of moss and ferns along the trail including Reindeer moss which is found in the Article Tundra. The moss, ferns, and fungi along the Moose Cave trail make this a good macro photography location. So don't forget your macro lens in the car (like I did).