Posted on June 25, 2018 and last updated on November 15, 2022

Orris Falls Conservation Area, South Berwick


  • Preserve Size: 198 acres
  • Trail Mileage: ~4.2 miles in network
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Sights: wetlands, balancing erratic, small gorge, historical spot mentioned in Sarah Orne Jewett's writing

This 198-acre preserve contains a lot to see: the stone foundation of a home where the writer Sarah Orne Jewett visited, a waterfall and long gorge, wetlands and large beaver ponds, a mammoth boulder balancing on a relatively tiny stone base, an old graveyard, and, I gather, some legends. (People’s compasses don’t work near “Balancing Rock.” My GPS, which often malfunctions, did not seem affected.) A viewpoint slightly farther along the path, down a short side trail, offers views.

There are two trailheads for this preserve: the larger is off Emerys Bridge Road, with room for maybe a dozen cars. On the other side of the preserve, off Thurrell Road, there is a small lot for three cars. Because the preserve is very popular, people tend to park alongside the road here.

You can now also walk from this preserve to Mt. Agamenticus via the 0.8-mile Checkerberry Trail, which connects (across Bennett Lot Road) to Mt. A’s Norman Mill Trail.

For those who prefer an easier walk, I recommend starting from the Thurrell Road trailhead. The approximately 1 mile from Thurrell Road to Orris Falls and the interesting ruins and beaver ponds follows a smooth, wide path. (It’s about 1.3 miles from Emerys Bridge Road to Orris Falls.) I didn’t see many blazes or trail markers in the preserve, but the path are well-used and mostly easy to follow. If you have time, check out the Big Bump — a scramble up a huge ledge — and the pond-side trail just below. This narrow trail can be hard to see, so keep your eyes peeled, but if you take this route, you’ll get close to an impressive beaver dam.

Directions: From Ogunquit, take Berwick Road as it becomes Ogunquit Road and then Boyd’s Corner Road. Take a left onto Emerys Bridge Road and go about 0.6 miles to the parking area on your right. The 0.8-mile Checkerberry Trail (which connects to to Mt. Agamenticus’s Norman Mill Trail) is just a bit farther along the road, on the left. Park at the Orris Falls lot for Checkerberry.

2 comments to “Orris Falls Conservation Area, South Berwick”
2 comments to “Orris Falls Conservation Area, South Berwick”
  1. I’m not sure — many land trusts do allow hunting on their protected land, but rules change from preserve to preserve. I think your best bet is to contact Great Works Regional Land Trust.

Let me know if you have any trail updates or corrections!