New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » Maine Fall Foliage in Grafton Notch part 1

Guest post from Maine photographer Stephen Beckwith of a life-long outdoor enthusiast and landscape photographer for the past four years. A champion of all things Maine and capturing his state in all its pristine beauty. You can purchase prints and talk to him on his Facebook/website page

Grafton Notch with route 26 in Maine

Grafton Notch

I think most people target their fall foliage drives during Columbus Day weekend in October. But if you want to get in an early drive to try to beat some of the congested traffic and throngs of leaf-peepers during that weekend, may I suggest a late September or Early October drive along the Grafton Notch section of Rt. 26 in Maine.

I made such a trip last year on September 30th and was greeted to near peak colors and little traffic. Being in Western Maine and at higher elevations, this stretch of scenic roadway often reaches peak early in the fall foliage season.

You can start this drive in Upton in the north or Newry in the south. There are several noteworthy places to stop and take in the view along this 21 mile stretch of road to Upton. Three of my favorites fall in just 7 miles of this stretch of road. The first is:

Maine Fall Foliage in Grafton Notch – STEP FALLS PRESERVE

Grafton Notch Overlook by Stephen Beckwith, #Vistaphotography, #JeffFolger, #JeffFoliage

Grafton Notch Overlook.jpg

The sign for Step Falls is small and unassuming, so you need to be looking for it. It will be on your right about 7.8 miles after turning onto Rt. 26 from Newry. It is green and white and says “Mahoosuc Land Trust, Step Falls Preserve”. The short roadway leads to a parking spot that can probably hold a dozen cars.
The trail to the falls meanders along Wight Brook and is well-marked with yellow blazes, but also very well-traveled and packed down, so it is an easy trail to follow. The only real tripping hazards are rocks and tree roots sticking up through the smooth ground. After about 1/2 mile, you come to a small stone bench on your left which marks the base of the falls.

, #Vistaphotography, #JeffFolger, #JeffFoliage

Step Falls in Grafton Notch by Stephen Beckwith

Step Falls gets its name because it consists of series of cascades and pools as opposed to one big drop.

For this reason, it is impossible to see the whole falls at once. There are several places along the path that gives you access to different parts of the cascading falls. The first one is at the rock bench; you will see a path to the left leading out to the rocks.

Another point of access is just above the rock bench and marked by a brown metal water pipe crossing the path. This leads to my favorite part of the cascades and probably offers some of the best views both up and down the falls.

Continuing along the main path the terrain gets steeper but there are also rock steps to help. This leads to the top of the falls which is designated by a yellow rope crossing the path and signs designating this as private property.

Escape today

Stephen Beckwith

Stephen Beckwith

I am a landscape photographer living with my wife in The Friendly Village of Harrison in the foothills of western Maine.
A life-long outdoor enthusiast, I am especially drawn to the beauty that Mother Nature creates, whether it be a stirring sunrise on the rocky coast, or a stunning sunset over a pond deep in the Maine woods.
With my photography, I try and capture that fleeting moment when Mother Nature shines the brightest, and hopefully do Her some justice as I share these scenes with you.

I offer prints for sale in many mediums at and also have a Facebook page in which I share images on a weekly basis at

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