While Moxie Falls is undoubtedly the most popular waterfall in The Forks area, the trip to Cold Stream Falls is well worth the visit. Cold Stream is a 15 mile waterway north of the Forks in Johnson Mountain Township. It has established itself as a premiere native wild brook trout hatchery, unmatched in the United States and newly protected as part of Maine’s Public Reserve lands (including 8159 acres in Cold Stream Forest). As a fly fishing enthusiast, these statistics make me downright giddy.
This hike is also apt to be much less crowded than the Moxie Falls trail. I have visited this 25 foot waterfall numerous times and have yet to encounter another person on the hike in or out. Unlike Moxie falls, it is easy to get into the water for a refreshing swim in the pool below the waterfall or enjoy the cooling mist.
To access the trail, there is a little back road navigation involved and you will need to keep an eye out for the spot to park as there is no signage. I would also recommend a vehicle with some clearance and a little knowledge of how to drive a dirt road. For example, my Subaru Outback has no problems getting in but my sister’s lower SUV was bottoming out here and there. I am not saying that she doesn’t know how to drive dirt roads with a vehicle loaded with kids but I might have had fewer “incidents”.
To get there, head north from The Forks on Rte. 201 to the Capitol Road (approximately 10.5 miles north of The Forks; there is a sign visible from Rte. 201). Take the right turn onto the road and you will likely see a gated wood yard directly ahead. Bear right for the drive-around. The yard is currently inactive but always remember that logging trucks have the right of way on any of these roads.
Continue on the road until you cross a bridge over Cold Stream and take your next left. Stay left at any corners or forks in the road. The parking area is on your left just before a steep and rough hill with a spring on the right. The trail is in the front of the parking area as you pull in. Keep an eye out for markers along the first section and expect to navigate some muddy areas initially. Once you get past these, the rest of the trail is obvious and in good shape. You should reach the falls in 30 minutes at a leisurely pace.
For those of you that like to fish, it is worth bringing your gear and license for the trip. There are some great little pools along the way to try your hand at catching the eye of a trout, landlocked salmon, or togue. The fishing regulations for this section falls under general law with the exception of 8/15 – 9/30 which is catch and release only.
Make sure to check out the deep rock wall gorge above the falls which is largely impressive on its own. Above the falls is a nice open wooded area where you can have a picnic or snack. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy this beautiful area and please carry out what you carry in.