Spring Waterfall Viewing

A self-guided tour through the waterfalls of the White Mountains


For some, Spring is signals the end of winter fun, but instead of being the end of outdoor fun in the White Mountains, Spring is the primve viewing time for the region’s rushing waterfalls.  There is no better season for viewing and photographing waterfalls and rushing brooks, streams and rivers, and nowhere in New England are waterfalls so abundant and accessible for viewing.




Everyone from kids on spring vacation to photo buffs will enjoy the rush of the falls at this time of year.  An important note: while there is no admission to see the falls, you will be have to pay $5 for a one-day or $5 for up to 7-day pass to park at any of the White Mountain National Forest parking areas. These passes are available at any area Ranger Station, and at a variety of places throughout Mt. Washington Valley. Consider visiting any or all of these choices, located in Mt. Washington Valley, NH:

Sabbaday Falls: There are three drops in the falls, pretty pools and a pothole formed by the swirling waters and sand. In warmer weather, you can’t swim here, but it’s a great spot for picnics. Directions: Take the Kancamagus Hwy from Conway. The Sabbaday Falls Picnic Area is about 3.5 miles west of where Bear Notch Road joins the Kancamagus Highway. The falls are a short 0.33 mile hike in.

Glen Ellis Falls: The Ellis River plunges 64 feet to the basin below in a torrent of white water here. Make sure to stop and read the signs that describe the geology and history of the area. Directions: The turn-off to the falls is 0.7 miles south of Pinkham Notch on Route 16. This is also the parking area for the Glen Boulder and Wildcat Ridge Trails. A tunnel takes you to the other side of the highway where you turn right to reach the falls. It’s a relatively easy 0.2 mile walk to the falls.

Crystal Cascade: This is a two-tiered spectacular fall, with a dramatic 60-foot wall of water, followed by a 20-foot plunge, ending with the river making a 90 degree turn at the bottom. Directions: Park at the AMC Pinkham Notch Camp and take the path on the left of the Trading Post at the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. The falls are a 0.3 mile walk up. For the adventurous at heart, keep going up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, and watch the spectacle of skiers in Tuckerman Ravine on a sunny day in May.

Thompson Falls: This is actually a series of falls along Thompson Brook at Wildcat Ski Area. The views to Mt. Washington from the highest ledge are worth the trip!  Directions: Take Route 16 to Wildcat Ski Area. To reach the falls, take the “Way of Wildcat” Nature Trail from the ski area’s parking lot. At the far end of the trail loop, you’ll find the path to the falls. It’s a 0.7 mile easy trek to the falls.

Arethusa Falls: Measuring in at about 176 feet, these are the highest single falls in New Hampshire. A bonus here is Bemis Brook Falls, Fawn Pool and Coliseum Falls can all be visited at the same time. Directions: Take Route 302 toward Bretton Woods and look for Crawford Notch State Park entrance. Turn onto a paved road just beyond the park and park on the short side road below the railroad tracks. The trail starts to the left of the private road above the RR tracks and it’s about 1.3 miles to the falls (2 miles if you take the trail to Bemis Brook Falls, Coliseum Falls & Fawn Pool).

Flume Cascade & Silver Cascade: These falls are easily viewable from the car, but you can get close for a better look. Directions: On Route 302, just below Crawford Notch Depot.
Ripley Falls & Kendron Flume: An easy hike with swimming holes at the top of the falls and pools upstream to cool off in warmer weather. It’s not safe, however, to climb the face of the falls. Directions: The Arethusa-Ripley Falls trail is off Route 302 at the old Wiley House station.

Jackson Falls: These are one of the popular watering holes for locals on a hot summer day. Easily accessible, they offer wonderful pools and small falls to cool off under. A few picnic tables nearby offer the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, dinner or cocktail. Directions: Take Carter Notch Road about 3/10 mile from Route 16A in Jackson.

Diana’s Baths: On a full moon night, this is one of the most romantic places in the world. The water supply for the area is located above this, so no access is allowed above, but this series of small falls, and pools offers the perfect place to cool off. You’ll hike about 1/2 mile in, following a well-marked trail to find them. Directions: Access the trail head from West Side Road., about 1/2 mile beyond the point where West Side Road turns toward Conway.

For more information on visiting Mt. Washington Valley, visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org.  To request a free Tips and Tours Vacation Planning Guide, call 1-800-D0-SEE-NH (800-367-3364).

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