Last week, a friend sent me a video of his autumn camping trip on the shores of Wyman Lake in Bingham, Maine. I watched the video and thought the area in which he and another friend camped was interesting. As I watched the video, I simultaneously began hunting around on Google Earth in an effort to find their exact location. It took a while, but I did it. I found the spot they camped. And after I did that, I also found a few other neat spots. Along Wyman Lake, I discovered the Pleasant Ridge Swim Area as well as Houston Brook Falls. After doing some quick reading on these two areas, I decided to take Laura out for a day on the lake. The weather was nearly perfect last week, so our ride promised to be enjoyable.
I have no idea why I completely forgot that the lake would be covered with ice. I suppose I had been watching my friend’s video for too long. In that video, both friends were canoeing and having a good ol’ time. I just though that since they were on water, it was water that we’d see. It wasn’t water we saw. The only water we experienced during our trip was that which was falling from the Houston Book Falls. As for the rest of the lake, the water was solid. This isn’t to say that the day wasn’t warm and beautiful, because it was. It’s just to say that the lake was still covered with ice. Here’s a photo of the lake. This is the very first photo I took and it’s from the boat ramp next to the Pleasant Ridge Swim Area.
Directions to Houston Brook Falls in Bingham, Maine
Before I go any further, allow me to offer some directions to these falls. After you see the below photos, I’m sure you’ll want to visit.
From Madison, Maine:
- Cross over the Main Street bridge into Anson and then make a right onto Main Street (Route 201a) and drive north.
- Travel 4.9 miles until you reach North Anson.
- Once in North Anson, continue straight north and remain on 201a for an additional 6.5 miles. At this point, you’ll see a bridge on your right that crosses the Kennebec River east into Solon. Don’t take this bridge.
- Stay straight north. At this point, you’ll be on Route 16. Remain on this road for 8.75 miles. You’ll see another bridge (Bridge Street) that cross over the Kennebec towards the east again. This one leads to Bingham. Don’t take this bridge.
- Stay straight north. The road will turn into Pleasant Ridge Road (Ridge Road).
- In 1.6 miles, you’ll see the Wyman Dam on your right. Stay straight.
- Continue driving another 1.7 miles from the dam. You’ll see a parking area on your right. There’s a brown fence. I think there’s some sort of transfer station or something behind that fence. Park your car to the left of the driveway.
- To the left of the parking area is the trail that leads down the hill to the falls.
Description of Houston Brook Falls
What a great place to visit on a hot summer’s day! Houston Brook Falls is just over 30 feet in height and can either relax or invigorate you. There’s a swimming hole at the bottom, so bring your bathing suit. From the parking area up on Route 201, the hike to the falls is about a half mile long. Be careful as you make your way down to the action because some areas can be muddy and slippery and there are many exposed roots from nearby trees. There’s also a small stream that parallels the trail downward, so keep an eye out for that. The hike is generally safe for all ages and if there’s not much flow in Houston Brook that feeds the falls, the possible danger should be kept to a minimum. If the water is high though, be very careful when walking near the rocky banks. Also, as you hike upstream past the falls themselves, the terrain becomes steep, so watch your footing and keep a very close eye on the little ones. This area can become quite busy on weekends and holidays, so plan your trip accordingly. Parking can also become tight on those same days. Dogs are welcome on the trail, but keep them on a leash and be sure to clean up after them.
I took a whole bunch of shots of this lake, but decided to use a few of them to create a panoramic photo. If you right-click on the photo and open it in a new tab, you’ll see a larger version.
After wandering around for a bit, I began to feel adventurous. The ice still seemed rather thick and solid, so I took Laura’s hand and walked her along the ice against the shore. We made it to a small cove of sorts where we found interesting photo opportunities.
Here’s a quick and dirty video of the lake.
After hanging around the lake for a while, we decided to move on. After all, there wasn’t much to actually do there besides take photos of something new. The falls were right up the road less than a mile away, so we drove there and parked at the gate of the local transfer station. The trail for the falls is right beside the parking area, so access is easy.
The nice thing about these falls is that they’re somewhat close to the parking area. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re about a quarter mile away, if that. The only issues we faced were the steep slope of the trail and the fact that it was still covered in ice. Laura wore her shoe traction devices while I left my fate to my hard earned ice trekking skills. Or should I write, skillz.
Here’s a quick photo I snagged of a small stream that fed the larger brook. I tried to take some silky water shots, but since I wasn’t using a tripod and didn’t bring my lens filters along, I failed miserably. This one is nice though.
In this next shot, I was attempting to play the sunlight on the stream water off of the darkness of the surrounding forest.
Here’s a neat little mini-waterfall on the way to the larger waterfall. Just wait until you see that monster.
Okay – it’s spring. There’s a lot of snow melt going on up here in Maine, but not so much that prepared me for the sheer amount of water that was going over these falls. It was crazy. And loud. But it was a lot of fun. Check out these shots.
To get this next shot, I made my way out onto a rock in the brook. The falls are about 40 feet tall and as I was out there, the mist that was coming off of them was landing on my camera and me. And Laura. She was out there too. We felt like we were riding the Maid of the Mist at Niagra Falls.
This is from the same vantage point, but facing the opposite direction. This is a photo of Houston Brook feeding Wyman Lake.
This is a fun little photo of the water right next to my feet. I liked the colors, so I captured them.
Let’s go up a bit closer. I had to get wet to take these next two photos. My camera was drenched by the end of this escapade. For the first shot, I increased my shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second and for the second, 1/2000th. My goal was to stop time as best I could.
I like seeing each droplet suspended like that.
For the previous photos, I was down at the bottom of the falls. Since there was a (treacherous) trail that led up to the top of the falls, we hiked up that to take some different shots. This next one is still at the 1/2000th of the second shutter speed.
Since we were in a beautiful hemlock forest, I had to take a sunburst photo through the trees. For those who are interested, I managed to get this sunburst at f/8 aperture.
And here’s a final photo of the smaller falls upstream from the main falls.
Here I am capturing my last set of photos. I found a cool tree that was hanging over the falls, so I scooted out there and sat on it. I know it was a dangerous maneuver, but I stared danger in the eye and went forth anyway.
Here I am wondering how to get off the tree.
As you can see, any false move would be disastrous. I eventually made it. Anyway, in closing, I leave you with another video. This one is of the falls. I took a few random clips and merged them into one video using Adobe Photoshop. I know the ending is repetitive, but I think it’s pretty good. Enjoy!