NH Family Hikes

Giant Falls

Length: 3.0 miles out-and-back

Difficulty (click for info): Easy

Elevation Gain: 850 feet

Rating (click for info): 6/10

Height: 200'

River: Peabody Brook

Driving Directions:
Trailhead is located on North Road in Shelburne, NH. North Road leaves Rt. 2 4.7 miles east of Rt. 16 in Gorham. North Road crosses the Androscoggin River and turns right on the other side. There is a small dirt pull-off on the right side of the road and an AMC sign at the gated path on the other. It is located 1.3 miles from Rt. 2, just before a stone house.

About the Hike:
Although one of the tallest and most spectacular waterfalls in New Hampshire, Giant Falls is often overlooked in favor of the more popular White Mountain waterfalls. Giant Falls is enormously tall, and ironically is fed by a tiny brook. Unfortunately, this means that in dry times, the waterfall becomes little more than a wet cliff. But in times of higher water, Giant Falls is a more than worthy destination of any waterfall explorer, rivaling the likes of Ripley and Arethusa Falls.

Cross the road and begin hiking on the Peabody Brook Trail, which follows a logging road most of the way. After the initial rough and eroded section, bear right onto a more pleasant grassy path and cross the bridge over Peabody Brook. Then, turn left and pass a Forest Society sign marking the Peabody Forest. Now beginning the stroll along the logging road, you are acquainted with the rushing water on its journey down from the waterfall. If it is racing, you are in for an absolute delight. After 0.3 miles, pass a regenerating logged clearing on the right. In another 0.4 miles, bear left to stay on the trail where Middle Mountain Trail follows another logging road off to the right. Just past this, the road dwindles into an average forest path. Not long after, the trail passes below some small forest cliffs, climbing over the rocky terrain at the base and winding to the right around the hillside. The climb sharpens as you contour across the southwestern slopes of Bald Cap Peak.

In 0.4 miles from the junction with Middle Mountain Trail, a spur shoots off downhill, and the main trail continues up. Turn left onto the spur, marked by a sign for Giant Falls. The path descends quickly back to the brook. If you are visiting in the springtime, as recommended, shift your gaze upward through the trees (you can see when there aren't any leaves) to understand the sheer size of the waterfall. You should be able to see an upper portion of Giant Falls, entirely above the drop you will investigate up close. As the trail intersects the brook and proceeds to follow it upstream, you will pass by many smaller cascades below the waterfall. The path undulates for a few tenths of a mile along the brook side. At its termination, the trail allows you to walk right up to the base of the waterfall, where during low water, you will approach only a dripping cliff. In its optimal season during snow melt, you will stand in awe in the mist of the thundering torrent. As you observe the crashing flood spread over the massive cliff, consider the similar-sized waterfall that lies out of sight above!

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