Yarmouth’s Royal River Park, located just outside the small town center, has a short out-and-back trail running alongside the falls of the Royal River. A detailed description is contained in Hiking Waterfalls Maine, including the downstream First Falls, which are separated by Bridge Street from the prior three along the trail. The water “trail” can be explored via canoe, and maps are available from the Royal River Conservation Trust. We walked the easy land route, about 1.4 miles total, in mid-March, taking us less than half an hour. The park itself, used for community concerts, is wide near the parking area, and includes picnic tables, to make a longer trip. A parking area is located across the street from the Yarmouth History Center.
Along the river, interpretive signs describe the history of the mills located along the Royal River, and their stone remnants can be seen across and throughout the river. In 1909, the Forest Paper Company, contained in 10 buildings covering 10 acres, was the largest soda fibre mill in the world. The mill closed in 1923, and burned in 1931. In 1971, the Marine Corps Reserve tore down the factory and a Navy demolition team took down the remainder with 14 crates of dynamite, crushing most of the debris to use as fill for the park, which took shape in separate phases from 1979 to 1984, with the town of Yarmouth providing matching funds with the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Today, the walk is filled with dogs and people, and we avoided some of the icy patches still covering the path. Just north of Route One, the Beth Condon Pathway, which is part of the East Coast Greenway, crosses the trail, continuing east across the Royal River via a pedestrian bridge. The path is named for a Yarmouth resident killed at age 15 by a drunk driver in 1993. The short but scenic trail along the Royal River dead-ends at Bridge Street. First Falls, where the river becomes a tidal flow, can be viewed following a short drive, from an overlook in Grist Mill Park, off East Main Street.