Cascade Falls Trail, Saco
A waterfall, a swimming hole and an old bear cage nestled in the woods. You read it, bear cage. Jello salad was not the only strange idea fabricated in the 50's.
Located at 61 Cascade Road in Saco, just off of Route 1, this trail is managed by Saco Bay Trails. It is also near Aquabboggan Water Park, if you want to make a day of it.
This historic site has been a popular picnicking, hiking, fishing and waterfall viewing spot since the late 1800's. The Trout Pond Loop is easy for wheelchairs, elderly and children. It's a .25 mile loop surfaced with stone dust. You will see the start of the trail, just to the right of the kiosk. Take a left to follow the loop clockwise, through the woods and along Cascade Brook. As you follow the loop back towards the trailhead, you will notice a trail on the left leading towards the waterfall. It is marked with a "falls" sign. Here, you will also find an old tree stump resembling a flame (see Henry climbing it below). This route to the falls is steep and does require a bit of caution. Take it slow and enjoy the view once you arrive at the bottom.
You will need to do a bit of climbing over things to get up near the base of the waterfall, where you will find a trail leading up the right side of it. Halfway up, there's an area for taking a dip. If you're brave and like to jump boldly into deep, dark, narrow water holes in rock, there's a thrill for you here. Two of my campers did this with no hesitation whatsoever. This appeals to me about as much as walking into a dark cave without a headlamp, wearing handcuffs. Do whatever moves you.
You will find our Seek'em hidden to the right of this swimming area...hopefully. This strikes me as a high traffic spot, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if he gets swiped before you reach him. I hope, however, that I'm wrong about that. He may (or may not) be tucked inside a small hole in the rock.
Once you've found him, or have given up the search, you can continue up the right side of the falls until you reach the top. Note, there are some areas of cliff here where young children should be supervised.
You can head back to your car from here, or go look for the old bear cage. To find this, climb back down the waterfall until you see a trail off to your left, leading uphill. Take this trail a short distance until you reach the old cage on the right.
Apparently, in the 1950's, this cage "featured a bear for the amusement of the tourists". Seriously?? I read this same phrase on multiple websites, but it remains unclear what kind of bear we're talking about here. Was it a live bear? Taxidermy bear? Plastic bear? Human dressed in a bear costume? No amount of searching helped me solve the mystery or gave any more specifics about said animal. If you get any intel on this, please do share.
Once you've pondered the bear cage for a while, or climbed inside to roar at your kids, continue on until you once again reach the top of the falls. From here, head right towards the parking lot.
This is a short, easy hike for all ages...great for a hot day. The falls are beautiful and although we visited after some dry weeks, I'll bet they are now flowing with all of the rain we've had. It seems like the perfect time to visit. Enjoy!