The allure of seeing a cascading waterfall is universal, but it often requires hours of hiking to discover its pristine source. And we often assume the most dramatic waterfalls are in tropical locals. Not so! In New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington Valley granite cliffs and glacier carved ravines produce an abundance of beautiful, easily accessible waterfalls just waiting for you to explore. Ringed by the White Mountain National Forest, Mt. Washington Valley makes a wonderful destination for discovering charming covered bridges and tumbling whitewater falls. This spring and summer promise to be even more spectacular than ever thanks to the huge snowfalls of winter 2015 that are now melting and feeding the waterfalls of New Hampshire.
Follow us to discover 9 spectacular waterfalls in the Mt. Washington Valley that are easily accessible just off paved roads and in short distance from each other. Plan an unforgettable adventure to explore these cascading waterfalls and don’t miss the chance to see them in their full spring rushing glory!
#1 Sabbaday Falls, Kancamagus Highway, Conway
These falls are some of the most popular in New Hampshire with three dramatic drops, pretty pools (not for swimming), and a pothole formed by swirling waters and sand. Take the Kancamagus Highway west from Conway. The Sabbaday Falls Picnic Area is about 3/5 of where Bear Notch Road join the Kanc. The falls are a short hike along a gravel path (handicapped accessible).
#2 Glen Ellis Falls, Pinkham Notch on Route 16
Torrents of white water plunge 64 feet to the broad deep green pool basin (sorry no swimming). Take a few minutes to read the signs describing the geology and history of this area. Take Route 16 toward Pinkham Notch and turn off to falls 0.7 miles south of the notch. This is the parking area for the Glen Boulder and Wildcat Ridge Trails. Take the tunnel under the highway and turn right to reach the falls. Easy 0.2 walk.
#3 Crystal Cascade, Pinkham Notch
There are few places as iconic in Mt. Washington Valley as Tuckerman Ravine, especially in the spring. While adventurers climb the Tuckerman Ravine Trail seeking the last thrilling spring ski run, tamer thrill seekers should take a short detour off the trail to discover the dramatic two-tiered waterfall. A 60-foot wall of water drops from the top and then plunges 20-feet before ending at the river that makes a 90 degree turn at the bottom. Park at the AMC Pinkham Notch Camp and walk along the path on the left of the Trading Post (Tuckerman Ravine Trail). You’ll find the falls just 0.3 miles ahead.
#4 Thompson Falls, Wildcat Ski Area
These are a series of falls along the Thompson Brook with breathtaking views of Mt. Washington from the highest ledge. The lowest cascade crashes over a gigantic clam-shaped rock ledge. Take Route 16 to Wildcat Ski Area and take the “Way of the Wildcat” Nature Trail from the parking lot. The path to the falls is at the far end of the trail loop – an easy 0.7 mile walk.
#5 Arethusa Falls, Crawford Notch State Park
Cascading over 175 feet, these are the highest single falls in New Hampshire and should be a must-see on your waterfall excursion. You also find the bonus of the Bemis Brook Falls, Fawn Pool and Coliseum Falls that can be seen nearby. Follow Route 302 west toward Bretton Woods to the the Crawford Notch State Park entrance. Turn onto a paved road just beyond the park on a short side-road below the railroad tracks. The trails starts on the left of the private road above the tracks. It’s about 1.3 miles to the falls and about 2 miles if you visit all four falls.
#6 Flume Cascade & Silver Cascade, Below Crawford Notch Depot
These two falls are easily accessible and can be easily seen from your car. They are a mix of cascades and tall plunges that run down the southwestern side of Mount Jackson. In May and early spring they gush with snow melt waters and attract lots of photographers. The falls run under US 302 and eventually join the Saco River. You’ll find them on Route 302 just below the Crawford Notch Depot.
#7 Ripley Falls and Kendron Flume, Route 302 West
Picture a 100-foot beautiful sheet of whitewater flowing over a smooth rock wall and that’s what you will find at Ripley Falls. Kendron Flume is a narrow pass that pushes the fast moving snow-melt through a narrow shoot. Note – it is NOT safe to climb the face of the falls! Find the Arethusa-Ripley Falls trail off Route 302 at the Old Wiley House station. You’ll enjoy a visit to the Old Wiley House as well.
#8 Jackson Falls, Crawford Notch Road
Everyone who wants to dive into (chilly) clear waters from a cascading waterfall…this is your place! Very popular with locals and visitors alike, Jackson Falls are easily accessed a short distance from the town of Jackson. You’ll find picturesque soothing pools and small falls to cool off on a warm summer’s day. Spring waters make for wonderful photo ops and there’s even a nice picnic grove. From Route 16A in Jackson, take Carter Notch Road about 3/10 of a mile. You’ll see the falls from Carter Notch Road and there are a few easy pull-off along side the falls.
#9 Diana’s Bath, West Side Road, North Conway
A favored full moon spot for romance, and just a short distance from North Conway Village, Diana’s Baths have also been known to attract skinny dippers on warm summer nights. Multiple small falls swish over granite boulders creating small falls and inviting pools making whirlpool-like swimming holes. Reach the baths by hiking about 1/2 mile following the well-marked trail. Access the trail-head from West Side Road about 1/2 mile from where West Side Road turns toward Conway, NH.
A visit to the Mt. Washington Valley of New Hampshire is fun any time of year, but if you need an extra incentive to visit this spring, you should know about the upcoming Herb, Food and Beer Tour scheduled for May 30-31, 2015. The two-day event celebrates the flavors of the valley with Microbrew Beer, Food and Herb Recipe tastings at premier Inns and Bed and Breakfasts. “This celebration of local flavors, combines herb recipe tastings, tours, take-home seedlings and recipes at eight White Mountain inns along with cooking demonstrations, a plant-to-plate “herb-inspired” dinner and overnight stays at a choice of premier Mt Washington Valley, NH inns. Add to that farm tours, beer, chocolate and specialty food tastings and the chance to meet those who grow them too. ” I look forward to this event every spring – come on up to the Valley, I’ll see you there!!
Photo Sources: 1. Google Commons, Dennis Walsh, courtesy of Appalachian Mountain Club, Google Commons