Autumn color at Moxie Falls, near The Forks, Maine
· ·

The ULTIMATE Guide to Exploring The Forks Maine

The Forks Maine is set in the Kennebec & Moose River Valley amid the northern outdoors. It’s the center for snowmobiling and white water rafting in Maine.

This plantation land is home to fewer than 50 people, and the population doesn’t even reach 100 when factoring West Forks into the numbers. However, each person is dedicated to giving you the adventure of a lifetime.

The Forks has just three paved roads, one of which is the Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway. It’s home to Moxie Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the state, while still being easily accessible every season.

In addition to these attractions, you’ll find plenty of things to do in The Forks during a weekend or weeklong getaway.

Lake Moxie ATV Riders-Forks
Lake Moxie ATV Riders | photo via hawksnestlodge

Outdoor Things to Do in The Forks Maine

While The Forks displays as a rough and rugged territory, there’s more thought put into the wilderness adventures than you might expect. That leaves many watery, wooded, and mountain paths to explore.

White Water Rafting

When planning a white water trip to The Forks, it’s important to know that the rapids are controlled by scheduled releases of the dams. The Kennebec River’s rapids come from Moosehead Lake, and the Dead River’s West Branch comes from Flagstaff Lake.

Only about a dozen “big water” releases are scheduled each year between May and October, so trips need to be planned around those dates. You don’t want to wait to book these rare opportunities because they sell out fast!

Northern Outdoors-The Forks
Northern Outdoors | photo via radcapitalist

Dead River Rafting

The Dead River provides the longest stretch of continuous white water rafting in New England at 13 miles with a 400-foot elevation drop. This is the apex of rafting or paddling on rapids, with the eight dam releases producing epic rides on Class III through Class V rapids.

Kennebec River Rafting

While the mighty Kennebec River has just four big water releases a year, daily releases keep the rafting guides rocking tours from spring through fall. Experienced rafters and adrenaline junkies should mark the calendar for the big water release dates because the rafting volume doubles.

Top 5 Things to Know About White Water Rafting Near The Forks

  1. Age limits range from 8 years old for the easier trips (Class I and II rapids) to 12 years and older for the more robust trips (Class III to V rapids).
  2. All levels of rapids are offered, and guides won’t give you a test or make you prove that you can handle the tougher rapids. Safety training is included with each trip, though.
  3. Most tours include an option to rent a wetsuit for the cold river water. Beyond Class I rapids, you will likely get wet.
  4. Most tour agencies offer the opportunity to buy photos, so you don’t have to risk using your own camera.
  5. If even tame falls make you nervous, tubing and kayaking on a lazy river section are available.

BONUS: Many white water tours lasting six to eight hours will include a lunch cooked on the banks of the river.

Grand Falls-West Forks
Grand Falls | photo via mikemiller763

Area Waterfalls

Moxie Falls

Moxie Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in Maine, which is saying a lot. The stunning 90-foot drop is mixed with an easy and short trail.

And, there’s an access point for swimming holes at the top and bottom in summer. The falls turn into a winter wonderland of frozen waterfalls in winter. The trail is 2.1 miles round-trip, with a gravel trail giving way to a wooded narrow portion.

Grand Falls

Grand Falls on the Dead River is 100 feet wide and includes a 40-foot drop. The parking area is near the Dead River rafting put-in and is just 1.6 miles round-trip. Also, you can explore the other Maine Huts & Trails options nearby.

Houston Brook Falls

Houston Brook Falls is another waterfall nearby, just 30 minutes south and a short half-mile trail. The 35-foot drop spans across a rockface the size of a movie theater screen (or larger).

WATERFALL TIP: Just about every waterfall in Maine will have reviews that say, “Photos don’t do it justice.” Prepare to be amazed!

A closeup of the Moxie Falls in West Forks, Maine
Moxie Falls

Fishing & Ice Fishing

From ice fishing for brook trout and salmon to enjoying the Ice Out adventures in May, this is prime territory for inland Maine fishing. Anglers need a fishing license and respect the fishing seasons. Guided fishing tours are available from the experts who know this area best.

ATV Adventures

Off-roading opportunities in this area are managed by the Lake Moxie ATV Riders. It’s important to check with this group to ensure that you’re following the laws, have the right registration, and know which trails are open and available. Logging season and Mud Season (March to early May) can impact trail access.

Coburn Mountain-Forks
Coburn Mountain | photo via jelliott207


The Forks Maine area has an extensive number of snowmobile trails that cover much of the North Maine Woods and mountain regions — more than 200 miles total.

Join the Forks Area Trail Club to get insider information, group rides, and updated trail status throughout the season. Less than 15 miles away, you’ll find the highest snowmobile trail in Maine at Coburn Mountain.

Fall Foliage

You can’t beat the unbridled beauty of the woods during fall in Maine, but you will certainly beat all the crowds sticking to Bar Harbor.

The natural palette is brushed with hues of gold, bright reds, and vibrant yellows. It clashes perfectly with the white caps of the rapids and the rock elements that fill this region — from granite to slate.

Scenic Byways

When you’re in The Forks, you can go either direction on the nearly 80-mile-long Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway. Plenty of rest stops and pull-outs dot the landscape, with mountain, river, and waterfall views and plenty of moose sightings if you’re paying close attention.

The road takes you all the way to Sandy Bay Township and the Canadian border, where you’ll take the same route that Benedict Arnold did in his fruitless endeavor to attack Quebec City. Historical markers will give you an eye-opening look at how important this road was to the development of Maine.

Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway-Forks
Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway | photo via ericsmainelife


Even from the back door of your hotel or steps outside your campsite, you’ll get unparalleled views of the Maine night sky. Time your trip for the full moon to get the most spectacular sights and pray for clear skies.

You might also get a surprise view of the Northern Lights, with the sun’s solar activity peaking anytime before the end of 2025. You can follow NASA’s Space Weather Prediction Center to track the most likely times.

Pleasant Pond-Forks
Pleasant Pond | photo via wicked_wolfe

Lake Life

Moxie Pond and Pleasant Pond are the closest recreational lakes to The Forks. Fishing and boating are popular activities with campsites available for rent seasonally.


Of course, the biggest hiking adventure in New England is the Appalachian Trail, which crosses over Route 201 just 8 miles south of The Forks.

Two incredible local trails take you to the vast views at the Mosquito Mountain summit. The Coburn Mountain Trail takes you through an abandoned ski resort and to a summit with an observation tower.

Grand Falls-West Forks
Grand Falls | photo via noodleskm

Indoor Things to Do in The Forks Maine

The Forks is definitely not the place you go if you’re an “indoors” person, but you can still find a handful of things to do when you want some climate control.

Dead River Area Historical Society Museum

The Dead River Historical Society museum is open for only limited hours in the summer, but it’s worth planning a day to visit.

The artifacts cover everything from a day in the lives of settlers and logging industry technology throughout the decades to several towns that disappeared underwater when the dam was built on Flagstaff Lake.

Maple Syrup Season

March and April bring Maple Syrup season to Maine with the famous Maple Syrup Sunday Weekend on the fourth weekend in March. The closest locations to The Forks are Sawyer’s Maple Farm and Baker’s Maple Syrup.

Lakewood Theatre

The 40-mile drive to Madison Maine is worth it just to catch a show at the nation’s longest-running summer theater dating back to 1901. The Lakewood Inn Restaurant offers brunch, dinner, and matinée specials with some of the most upscale dining in the area.

Gulf Hagas-Forks
Gulf Hagas | photo via the_life_of_jon

More Things to Do Near The Forks Maine

“Nearby” takes on a whole new meaning in Maine’s Kennebec & Moose River Valley. Even a place 60 miles away can take two hours to get to in good weather and clear roads. Just keep that in mind when planning your trip.

Moosehead Lake

Moosehead Lake is the largest in Maine and is well-known for having sunken steamboats at the bottom, all casualties of advancements in transportation. The southern end of the lake in Greenville Maine is 27 miles from The Forks.

Gulf Hagas

If you want to hike the “Grand Canyon of Maine,” head 43 miles east to Gulf Hagas. This challenging and strenuous trail intersects with the Appalachian Trail and takes you past four named waterfalls and a precipitous section known as The Jaws.

This is not a good trail for children or dogs, but it’s almost as strenuous as summiting Mt. Katahdin.

Bigelow Preserve Public Land

Enjoy every deep breath of fresh air and preserved land because this beautiful slice of Maine was once supposed to be a development to rival Aspen Colorado. It’s now a massive mountain terrain on the shores of Flagstaff Lake with dozens of activities to explore.

Hawk's Nest Restaurant-Forks
Hawk’s Nest Restaurant | photo via smorris_73

Restaurants in The Forks Maine

You’ll definitely work up an appetite in The Forks, and there are several local restaurant options to choose from before or after your adventure.

DINING TIP: Many restaurants close during Mud Season since the trails are usually closed, so check the open hours before you go.

Kennebec River Pub & Brewery

Kennebec River Pub & Brewery is at the Northern Outdoors adventure resort. The menu gives you plenty of time to eat breakfast before heading outdoors with an extensive pub menu for lunch and dinner. An array of Maine-made beers fill out the experience.

Thaiger 2 Go

Break from the traditional burgers and try some Thai American fusion at Thaiger 2 Go. Each season brings a new menu with specials each day to match the weather. You won’t want to miss some curry on a cold Maine woods day, while the scallion pancakes are a great vegan option.

Barry’s General Store

Don’t write off Barry’s General Store as just a grocery store because pizzas and scrumptious sandwiches, like smoked barbecue brisket, make great to-go options. With more than 60 years of serving this region, this team really knows how to provide everything you need in a one-stop shop.

Hawk’s Nest Restaurant

Dine with views of the Dead River and a menu from morning coffee and pastries through dinner with a cold Maine-made beer at the Hawk’s Nest Restaurant. In 2023, the team added milkshakes to the menu. The espresso milkshake is sure to be a good energy booster any time of the day.

The Marshall Inn

With #getmarshalled, you know this place is a little more lively than your average food joint. Dinner service is usually served with a side of live music and some of the best seasonal ingredients mixed in.

Whether it’s fiddleheads or fresh ingredients on the Cinco de Mayo holiday, this is one place that really keeps the experience interesting no matter how often you visit.

Please note that the big dog named Bart is well-fed and has digestion issues when you give into his sweet face begging for food.

“Bart is a dog. A domesticated dog. He tries to fool us, too, that he doesn’t like dog food. But he does. Petting him is free. Feeding him is not. We’ll get to charge you double.”

Bart’s owners & management at The Marshall Inn
Bigelow Preserve-Eustis
Bigelow Preserve | photo via

Forks Maine Hotels & Other Lodging

Most of the inns, hotels, and resorts in The Forks have stores, adventure companies, and restaurants on-site to provide all-in-one experiences.

15 Mile Stream Lodge & Outfitters

You’ll be right at the entrance to three snowmobiling paths at 15 Mile Stream Lodge & Outfitters. Lodge rooms and cabin rentals are available year-round. This is also a hunter’s paradise with moose, deer, bear, and coyote hunting packages offered that include lodging and meals.

Northern Outdoors Adventure Resort

When you want to keep it simple with all of your trip planning, accommodations, and meals at one of the largest outdoor adventure resorts in Maine, look no further than Northern Outdoors Adventure Resort.

Cabins come in many sizes, some with 4+ bedrooms for large groups. Campsites are available too. Common areas include a fireplace, game room, arcade, hot tub, cornhole patio, and outdoor pool.

Inn by the River

You’ll feel at home away from home at the Inn by the River with rooms accommodating couples or families with small kids, riverside cabins, and a larger carriage house for rent. The team members pride themselves on helping each guest discover their perfect version of The Forks.

Three Rivers Fun Resort

Things get a little more lively at Three Rivers Fun Resort with glamping, camping, cabins, and more all brought to you with themed parties and nightly bonfires. Those taking a rafting trip can have a discounted buffet breakfast and go back after the trip to look through the video and photos of the adventure.

More to Know About Forks Maine

From Raft City to the Snowmobile Capital of the World, The Forks has been an outdoor destination for centuries. The rugged wilderness is untouched in many ways, aside from the well-kept trails that help visitors of all experience levels get expert access.

The plantation’s name comes from the fact that the West Branch of the Dead River and Kennebec River meet here.

The Forks might seem like a quiet, off-the-grid type of place. If these rivers could talk, though, you’d be regaled with stories of Benedict Arnold before he was, well, a Benedict Arnold marching north to Canada. The millions of logs that flowed down the channels built the foundation of the New World.

Things to Know Before Visiting

  • Many places worth exploring in the North Woods are on logging roads. These are private unpaved roads with public access allowed. Logging trucks always have the right of way and will not stop or move over for you. The roads can be bumpy to dangerous with flooding, downed trees, and landslides happening at any moment.
  • You will likely not have mobile phone service in the wilderness. You can download the Explorer app to have maps and other helpful items ready even without a mobile signal.
  • Mud Season means many trails will be closed for your safety and to preserve the integrity of the trails. When possible, use wooden walkways when exploring muddy trails. These walkways might not be more than the width of your foot.
Autumn color at Moxie Falls, near The Forks, Maine
Moxie Falls

FAQs About The Forks Maine

What activities in The Forks Maine require a license?

You’ll need a license for many activities in The Forks Maine, and you should research your ability to get a license or permit ahead of time: snowmobile registration in Maine, fishing and boating licenses and permits, hunting license rules and regulations, and permit to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Are Maine’s waterfalls safe?

Caution is key around waterfalls in The Forks and elsewhere in Maine. Always assume the rocks are as slippery as ice. Most will have a thin layer of algae or lichens on them.

Don’t jump from cliffs or try to climb a rushing waterfall. Common sense is your best safety ally.

Why is it called the Dead River?

There is nothing macabre in the name of the Dead River. As ironic as it may sound, the Dead River comes from its still waters. That was before the dam created amazing rapids worthy of the best white water rafting in New England.

Plan Your Next Forks Maine Adventure

The Forks is surrounded by the best outdoor adventure landscape that you can find in Maine. It’s less than three hours from popular places like Portland and Acadia National Park. This is truly a four-season outdoor destination beyond what you can even imagine.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *