Thursday, August 29, 2013

Height of the Land, Coos Canyon, and Angel Falls

Yesterday Josh and I had a rare day off together to get out and explore. We decided to take the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway which starts in Madrid, goes through Oquossic, and heads towards Byron.

8.13 Height of the Land Scenic Overlook
Our first stop was at Height of the Land, located just off Rt. 17. It is a scenic overlook that offers panoramic views of Mooselookmeguntic and Cupsuptic Lakes, as well as a few smaller bodies of water. Also, the Appalachian Trail crosses Rt. 17 here and so it's a great spot to day hike from.

Even though it was a hazy day, the landscape was gorgeous. The lakes are spotted with heavily forest islands and occasionally you'll see a perfectly secluded sandy beach. One cannot help contemplating how beautiful this region is. The overlook certainly lives up to its name.

8.13 Coos Canyon
Once we were on the road again, we began our search for the Bemis Road, which takes you to the Angel Falls Trailhead. Of course we missed it. We had been so busy chatting that we were nearly to Coos Canyon when our mistake was realized. So, naturally we had to go see Coos Canyon.

The Swift River cuts through the town of Byron through the gorge known as Coos Canyon. The water worn stones walls are stunning. Sometimes smooth and rolling then sharp and severe elsewhere. The water is the perfect for swimming and there are swimming holes for everyone.

8.13 Coos Canyon
We scrambled along the rocks and then soaked our feet for a little while. Wu had to swim. He also got to feel a real current, which didn't seem to slow him down. We were a little disappointed by the amount of litter. There were shoes, clothing, bottles, even a backpack strewn about.

After taking our fair share of photos and wishing we had brought our swimsuits, we were back on the road. Trying to find the Bemis Road was easier when traveling back towards Height of the Land. We were able to find it easily (i.e.- we only turned around once!).

8.13 Angel Falls Trail
We had heard the Bemis Road was in rough shape. It is. Though the trailhead to Angel Falls is only 3.6 miles off of Rt. 17, it took us at least 20 minutes. I didn't notice a sign, but we knew we were in the right place because we suddenly came across 4-5 cars parked in three pull-offs along the road.

8.13 Angel Falls Trail
The trail is 0.8 mile long and begins as an old two-track that curves slowly down to a large open area. There is a giant rock, spray painted from previous visitors. At this point there are two roads that continue on. The trail to Angel Falls is marked with red swaths and is on the left.

8.13 Angel Falls Trail
It didn't take us long to realize what a beautiful area we were in. As we made our way towards the falls, there were several stream crossings. The trail changed from wide and easy to narrow and demanded greater attention. We were enchanted. The moss was so brilliantly colored it seems as though we were in a tropical rainforest at times.

Near the falls we began to catch glimpses of our destination. We heard the brook running. At the top the trail opens up and you can really take the waterfall in. The water, Mountain Brook, drops 90 feet over the horsetail falls making Angel Falls one of the tallest waterfalls in Maine. The way the water moves diagonally across the rocks was awesome. Water rushed over fallen pieces of the rock face. It was a really peaceful place.

8.13 Angel Fall
We rested, photographed and explored just a bit before hiting the trail back. We would have stayed longer but it was a popular spot and there were several other parties trying to enjoy it as well. The hike back down was pure serenity. Without other visitors in earshot we were able to relax and go at our own pace.

As it often does the hike back seemed to be more difficult. I'm not sure if it was that the footing was trickier or that I knew our day was coming to a close. Either way, it didn't slow the planning of our next adventure... coming back soon with our little one in tow.

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