NH Waterfalls You Can Enjoy from the Road


Arethusa. Ripley. Avalanche. Sabbaday. Waterfall enthusiasts know these as some of the big names in our state. Most of New Hampshire's grandest wateralls require just a modest effort to view and enjoy. Plenty, though, are favorably positioned to attract attention right on the side of the road. The popular White Mountains driving tour, which involves driving the parkway through Franconia Notch, Rt. 3 into Twin Mountain, 302 down through Crawford Notch into Conway, and back to Lincoln on the Kancamagus Highway, introduces tourists to several of the most prominent and easy-to-visit ones. If you're a dedicated waterfall hunter, you'll make no distinction between a cascade on the side of the road and a deep-woods cataract where the price of admission is a nine-mile slog into the wilderness (Thirteen Falls, anyone?). The magnificence of the natural forces and the photogenic opportunity are what you're after. And there are also those who would be interested in taking in the awe-inspiring scenery of kinetic water by opening their car door and could do without the hike. So in the interest of completeness, you will find this to be a comprehensive guide to the waterfalls of New Hampshire that you can drive to. Some are famous tourist attractions, and some are small-town secrets, but all are worth a visit for their natural beauty. They're listed in alphabetical order here. For more waterfalls with ease of access, try searching our library of hikes for waterfall hikes of beginner difficulty. This list covers waterfalls you can view with very little or no walking, but some of the beginner waterfall hikes are not much more difficult!

Agassiz Basin, Woodstock

Agassiz Basin used to have more notoriety from locals as a favorite swimming hole, but recent activity by the property owners near the road, including the demolition of a building, has led to some of the access points being blocked off, presumably to discourage the crowds that were accustomed to gathering there on hot summer days. Current status is unknown. The spacious, sandy pool that was so attractive for wading is located just downstream of a chaotic, boulder-tossed gorge. The more impressive element of the waterfalls is the natural curve of the rock walls, blasted smooth by the torrents of water. Of the several drops and cascades on Moosilauke Brook, the highest and most impressive is almost entirely concealed by the crevasse it pours down into. An interesting view of the disappearing water can be had if you are able to make your way to the ledges at the top. Several paths lead down to various points around the gorge from the parking areas, but with the uncertainty over access, the only option may be to peek through the trees on the roadside to view the water. It may be possible to approach from upstream or down.
The falls are located on the south side of Rt. 112, 1.7 miles west of the junction with Rt. 3 in Woodstock and 0.9 miles east of the junction with Rt. 118. There was a generously sized parking area on the south side of the road, just east of Mountain Side Road (a private drive), but in recent years, parking has been disallowed here and the lot has been blocked off. The only option may be to find the nearest space available on the road shoulder and walk over. Click here for a Google map.

Upper Ammonoosuc Falls, Crawfords Purchase

The nascent Ammonoosuc River as it forms from the slopes of Mt. Washington is home to a plethora of cascades and waterfalls, including some of the highest in the state. These lower-level cascades form a gorge where the river begins to intensify in flow power. Several strong plunges have molded the gorge walls into irregular, curved shapes, with the cracks and layers of the bedrock exposed. A boulder-filled scene upstream of the falls is contrasted with the more level, gravelly outflow. Right from the pull-off, you can explore around the top of the rock walls or cross the bridge to the other side for a different perspective.
From Rt. 302, 4.5 miles east of the junction with Rt. 3 in Twin Mountain, drive east on Base Station Road (marked with signs for the Mt. Washington Cog Railway). Drive 2.2 miles up the road to where you will see a gravel pull-off and kiosk on the right (watch the mileage closely, as there is more than one pull-off on this road). Click here for a Google map.

Beaver Brook Falls, Colebrook

This easily-viewed waterfall is one of the most popular scenic stops in the sparse north country. The well-kept wayside opens a clear view over the lawn area to the magnificent, fanning drop over high ledges. Two equally impressive tiers make up the total drop, with a break between them. A path leading over a bridge beyond the fence allows you up-close views of the outpouring at the base of the sloping ledge. More scattered paths allow for exploration around the edges of the falls.
From Rt. 3 in the center of Colebrook, drive north on Rt. 145 for 2.4 miles. You will see the large state wayside area on the right side, with the falls visible from the road. Click here for a Google map.

Campton Falls, Campton

On a particularly steep and winding section of state highway 175, you have to know what you're looking for to find the thunderous cataract on the Beebe River down the ravine walls in the valley below. Just upstream of an interesting arch bridge in a particularly ledgy section of the riverbed, the falls in higher flow are a mesmerising torrent, crashing over a single drop as the river jogs around a corner. The falls are larger in width than in height, lending to their powerful appearance. A beaten path from the pull-off leads along a narrow terrace on the hazardously steep slope. It is possible to get down to the river from here but could be dangerous with the angle and erosion. The main path leads to an opening where you can look down on the falls through the trees.
Parking is located on the east side of Rt. 175, 3.0 miles south of Rt. 49 and 5.1 miles north of the junction with Rt. 175A near the highway. There is room for a few cars to park in this pull-off on a steep and curvy incline. It will be just north of a bridge over the Beebe River and just south of a triangle junction with Perch Pond Road. Click here for a Google map.

Crystal Falls, Stark

This voluminous waterfall will not stun you with its height, as it just surpasses the scale of mere rapids in a river, but the massive quantity of water roaring through its fragmented bedrock will surely impress you. Phillips Brook seems big enough to be called a river, and that fact combined with the riverbed formed of entirely ledge make it quite the natural wonder to observe. Closest to the bridge are some low-angle, bubbly rapids where the brook spreads out over the rock. Further back is the main attraction, where the water plunges down a set of rock steps into a deep, foamy pool. The total drop is perhaps 10 feet in all. From the pull-off, you can approach the falls by following a wide path into the woods and to a cement retaining wall, which provides a convenient viewing place. You can explore in the woods and around the ledges to get closer.
From Rt. 110, 11.2 miles east of Rt. 3 and 2.5 miles northwest of Rt. 110A, turn north onto Paris Road and drive across the bridge over the Upper Ammonoosuc River. At a four-way junction 0.8 miles up the road, turn left onto Dewey Hill Road. You will see the falls on the right at the bridge over Phillips Brook just 250 feet from the junction. You can pull off the road on the right on the other side of the bridge. Click here for a Google Map.

Dixville Flume, Dixville

The Dixville Flume, also called the Baby Flume, is one of the scenic highlights of wild, northern Dixville Notch, the most rugged and remote of New Hampshire's mountain passes. As its name suggests, the falls are contained within a high-walled gorge, befitting the rough character of the area, where gothic rock spires loom overhead as you drive through the park. From the side of Flume Brook below the outfall of the gorge, you view the falls, set back at the other end, over a jumble of boulders on the streambed. The brook slides smoothly down the high-angled ledge into the gorge like a log flume amusement park ride. Below is a pool which invites wading by its visual appearance but not its icy temperature, then a smaller water slide. The environment is dark and mossy and quite evocative.
The Baby Flume Picnic Area is found on the northeast side of Rt. 26, 11.6 miles east of Rt. 3 in Colebrook and 10.0 miles northwest of Rt. 16 in Errol. It is also 0.3 miles north of the wayside for Huntington Cascades and the cemetery. The entrance is marked with a sign for Dixville Notch State Wayside. At the far end of the circular parking area, follow the short path past the state park signs down to the gorge. Click here for a Google map.

Flume Cascade, Harts Location

Travelers through Crawford Notch get a free look at Flume Cascade as they drive the steep hill just south of the crest. Flume and its neighbor Silver Cascade careen down the steep wall of Mt. Webster on the east side of the notch. Flume is the lower volume of the two and can tend to be more seasonal, but it is also noticeably taller. The steepest drop is set far back from the road at the top of the cascades, which are hard to approach. It is partially obscured from view by tree branches. Flowing from the base of the high ledges, the brook tumbles down some lower-angle cascades over bedrock to flow under the bridge. If you look over the west side of the bridge, you can see the bottom of the cascade flow through a neat sluice to join the Saco River down below.
From the junction of Rt. 3 and Rt. 302 in Twin Mountain, drive east on Rt. 302 for 9.2 miles. As you crest the height of the notch and begin down the steep hill, look for the entrance to a scenic area on the right. From the far end of this parking lot, you can follow a gravel path back out to the main road at the bridge over Flume Cascade. Click here for a Google map.

Gleason Falls, Hillsborough

Located on a quiet back road, Gleason Falls is as much about the architecture of the stone arch bridge spanning Beard Brook as it is about the cascades tumbling beneath. The falls are best seen in high springtime flow, when they gush over the mossy, angled ledges under the bridge. The rapids start just upstream of the bridge, then accelerate underneath and end in a bubbling pool. You can walk down beside the brook underneath the shady hemlocks to get the best view of the water and bridge in one photogenic scene.
From Rt. 31 in Hillsborough, 0.4 miles north of the junction with Rt. 9/202 at Kat's Corner, turn right onto Shedd Road. Drive 1.1 miles and arrive at a four-way junction. Take the left onto Beard Road and continue another 1.1 miles as the road becomes dirt. You will find space to park on the right, just before the stone arch bridge under which flows the waterfall. Click here for a Google map.

Gilsum Falls, Gilsum

No scenic wayside marks this pretty cascade; no tourist stop, not so much as a sign alerts passers-by to its presence, despite being right on the side of a state highway. You'll feel like you're discovering something special as you poke through the trees around this multi-tiered, mossy slide. A pool forms at the base of the lowest cascades, just before the brook passes through an unassuming culvert under the road. It's really just a sight on the side of the road with nothing to call attention to the scenic beauty. Most of the waterfall can be seen from the road, but it is easy enough to walk around the sides of it.
The falls are located on the side of Rt. 10, 6.7 miles north of the northern junction with Rt. 9 and 4.7 miles southwest of the southern junction with Rt. 123. Look for space to pull off on the gravel shoulder on the south side of the road, 0.2 miles east of Riverside Street. You'll see a minor bridge over the brook and the waterfall will be through the trees (right side, heading north/east). Click here for a Google map.

Jackson Falls, Jackson

Jackson Falls could be described as a photographer's playground, and it would be too if it were not also one of the most popular swimming holes in the area. The sizeable Wildcat Brook tumbles over sunny ledges for nearly a quarter mile as it flows toward the Ellis River in Jackson Village. You'll find it is the ideal place to splash around on a hot summer day as you go exploring around the multitudes of little cascades and falls, and the dozens and dozens of other visitors will likely agree. There are some broad and short plunges near the top of the cascades, starting from below the bridge. Shallow and stony pools abound. As you travel further downstream, eye-catching blocky shapes in the bedrock take over and form larger and more interesting waterfalls. There are fewer areas to wade around down here, but the cascades are better. You can still get into the water at the base of some of the falls. In several places, the water fans out and slides down oddly angled ledges. The brook splits up into multiple channels as it flows down through the variety of features.
From the northern junction of Rt. 16 and Rt. 302 in Glen, drive north on Rt. 16 for 2.7 miles to the second entrance to the northern Rt. 16A loop. Drive 0.4 miles and take a left into the first entrance to the Rt. 16B loop (Carter Notch Road). You will find nearly continuous available parking pull-offs on the right side of the road from 0.2 - 0.4 miles in, ending at the bridge on Valley Cross Road. The various parking locations allow access at different points along the cascades. Click here for a Google map.

Lower Falls, Albany

Downstream of Rocky Gorge, the Swift River turns out yet another major scenic attraction in Lower Falls. Its reputation as a swimming hole and recreational area is unmatched, even if other waterfalls may provide better opportunities in that regard. The draw is a wide open and sunny area in the river, where small cascades and pools abound. Following the paved walking paths on the south side of the parking area, you can easily find the broad ledges where the river splits into a large number of playful cascades. There is not much in the way of vertical drop with this waterfall, but it is plenty scenic. All the cascades culminate in a huge pool in the river, which is what draws in the swimmers. Most of the falls and the pool are visible from the highway if you're driving westerly. If you're looking to enjoy the scenery without the crowds, it's best to visit off-season.
The entrance to the Lower Falls Scenic Area is on the west (northerly) side of the Kancamagus Highway, 6.9 miles west of Rt. 16 in Conway and 28.3 miles east of exit 32 off I-93 in Lincoln. The eastern access to the huge parking lot, about 0.1 miles from the western, is the entrance (the parking lot is a one-way). It is clearly marked with a White Mountain National Forest sign. Look for the visitor's building nearby to the entrance. It's located between other major scenic attractions Rocky Gorge to the west and the Albany Covered Bridge to the east. Click here for a Google map.

Pollards Mills, Newport

The former mill on the south branch of the Sugar River was powered by this series of small but powerful waterfalls. A popular local swimming hole, the falls welcome visitors with areas of flowerbeds and benches. Several parallel plunges pour through worn-down ledge, between the near side, with a gently sloping ledge you can walk down to the water, and the far side, where the ledge forms a wall against the river. You can find some stone wall remains of the old mill structures just upstream of the main falls. The whole recreation area is privately owned and maintained by one of the nearby residents, and has a short walking trail showcasing the natural beauty of the area.
From Rt. 10, 1.9 miles south of the junction with Rt. 103 in the center of Newport and 3.4 miles north of the junction with Rt. 31, turn northwest onto Pollards Mills Road at a four-way junction. Drive 0.4 miles and turn left at a triangle junction onto Falls Road, a short spur road to three driveways. After about 200 feet, turn left into a small parking lot opposite the first driveway. Click here for a Google map.

Rocky Gorge, Albany

Rocky Gorge is just what its name suggests. It's an impressive rocky chasm in the Swift River that is one of the most popular scenery stops on the Kancamagus Highway. The wide river is constrained and accelerated into a single powerful waterfall down into the gorge, then flows between the rock walls, where intricately layered stone displays a network of fractures. An arched footbridge spans the river just downstream of the gorge, providing prime viewing up through it. To get to the footbridge, you'll have to walk the paved pathway 0.1 miles down from the parking lot. For a longer walk beyond the gorge, you can follow the path another 0.1 miles past the bridge and up to scenic Falls Pond. The entrance to the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area is on the west (northerly) side of the Kancamagus Highway, 9.2 miles west of Rt. 16 in Conway and 26.2 miles east of exit 32 off I-93 in Lincoln. It is clearly marked with a White Mountain National Forest sign. You'll find it between other major parking lots for Champney Falls Trail to the west and Lower Falls to the east. Click here for a Google map.

Sculptured Rocks, Groton

Some small cascades flow through this tall gorge on the Cockermouth River, but what really makes this a scenic site are the smooth rock walls that look like interlocking puzzle pieces which give the natural area its name. You can cross the road and follow the short path onto a bridge over the top of the gorge. From here you can look down on the cascades, as well as the odd protrusions and potholes that riddle the walls. A few sections of the ledge have broad half- circles carved into their sides, where the river spins around.
From Rt. 3A at the northern end of Newfound Lake, 8.8 miles north of the junction with Rt. 104 in Bristol and 4.9 miles south of the traffic circle at Rt. 25, drive west on North Shore Road into the town center of Hebron. At the junction with West Shore Road, the road becomes Groton Road. Continue 1.6 miles. Continue straight again as North Groton Road turns off to the right and the road becomes Sculptured Rocks Road. Look for the large and well-marked parking lot on the left side of the road after 1.2 miles. Click here for a Google map.

Silver Cascade, Harts Location

Travelers through Crawford Notch get a free look at Silver Cascade as they drive the steep hill just south of the crest. Silver and its neighbor Flume Cascade careen down the steep wall of Mt. Webster on the east side of the notch. Silver is the shorter of the two, but always has a higher volume of water flowing over it and is positioned closer to the road, making it more attractive to look at. The lower portion of the cascade consists of a narrow and deep channel in the ledge which spans both sides of the bridge. Further back from the road, the cascade is more vertical as it crashes over series of ledges into a small pool. Most of the time, the flow is confined to a cutout in the left side of the rocks. Unlike Flume, it is easy to get up close to this largest portion of the cascade. Just hop over or walk around the guardrail, and you can follow a beaten path beside the ledges of the brook bed to a rocky point overlooking the pool. Here you can stand in awe of the magnitude of the cliffs overhead.
From the junction of Rt. 3 and Rt. 302 in Twin Mountain, drive east on Rt. 302 for 9.4 miles. As you crest the height of the notch and begin down the steep hill, cross the bridge past Flume Cascade and look for two parking areas on the right, one on each side of the next bridge over Silver Cascade. From either one, you can walk the sidewalk to the bridge. Click here for a Google map.

Stepped Falls, Ellsworth

To find this waterfall, you'll have to navigate through the tiny hilltop town of Ellsworth, where the only thoroughfares are backwoods roads tucked deep into the mountains. The drive through this remote locality is almost as appealing as the destination, with abundant scenic views, and neither are frequently visited. When you finally arrive at the waterfall, you'll be greeted with the sight of the foamy white brook careening over a series of "steps" in the ledgy brook bed. The unfortunate placement of the road means the lowest step falls underneath the bridge, but it is still an impressive sight, and by moving around, you can get a sense of the scale of it. South of the road is private land, but on the north side, a forest road leads uphill beside the falls, so you can observe it from different angles. Step out onto the ledge in the midst of the falls and you can get right up close to the upper drop. At the highest and shortest drop, the brook plunges over a little ledge into a small pool, then forks and falls over the second drop, where the two streams merge together at the bottom. Under the bridge, the brook is funneled into a narrow channel and spills out into a pool below. The brook eventually flows down to Ellsworth Pond and continues to the Pemigewasset River.
From the junction of Rts. 3 and 49, west of exit 28 off I-93, drive south on Rt. 3 and immediately take the first right onto Dan Webb Road. Drive up the hill to the four-way junction at a curve in the road and take the nearest right onto Ellsworth Hill Road. You'll be on this road for a total of 7.6 miles before you reach the waterfall. The road leads uphill past several scenic views and through the indistinct town center before becoming a dirt surface after 4.6 miles. The road is not maintained during the winter months just beyond this point. After another 3 miles, look for a pull-off on the right, just before the bridge over Brown Brook, where you'll see the waterfall. If visiting during the winter season, you can approach from the south via Stinson Lake Road from Rt. 25. 6.9 miles up the road, past the north end of Stinson Lake, there is parking available at the Three Ponds Trailhead. The falls are just 0.3 miles up the road from this point, and you can walk to them easily if the road is not passable. Click here for a Google map.

Swiftwater Falls, Bath

It's hard to imagine a more quintessentially New Hampshire scene than a waterfall and a covered bridge. In the town of Bath, the 1849 Swiftwater Covered Bridge provides a backdrop for the waterfall of the same name on the Wild Ammonoosuc River. Though not much in height, the volume of water pouring over the falls continually is impressive. The river winds past a sandy spot under the bridge and gushes over textured bedrock in two drops. The lower drop spans the much more of the width of the rock and spreads the water out into bubbling beads as it fills the expansive pool below. In the summer months, this pool is a prime swimming venue as the cool mountain waters swirl around. It's also an excellent object of photography, to capture the beautiful natural forces and the weather-aged covered bridge.
From Rt. 112, 2.1 miles southeast of its end at Rt. 302 and 6.5 miles northwest of the western intersection with Rt. 116, turn northeast at a wide corner onto Porter Road and drive across the Swiftwater Covered Bridge. Right on the other side, turn left and drive down into a large gravel parking lot, where several paths lead out to the river. Click here for a Google map.

Wantastiquet Falls, Hindsdale

Located right at one of the trailheads for hiking Mt. Wantastiquet, the view of this seasonal cascade takes in the lowest portion of a tiny, nameless stream on its rendezvous directly with the Connecticut River. It's essential to visit in the spring, as the source of the falls will be nearly dried up in all but the wettest times of the year. It's not a debate whether to call this the westernmost waterfall in New Hampshire, as the true westernmost point on land is less than half a mile away down at the riverbank. From the parking area, stay to the right of the lower woods road and walk up the Wantastiquet Mountain Trail to the orange gate. From either side of the brook around here, you can look up toward the waterfall. It is a bit set back up the steep slope. Beyond the stony outflow at your feet, you can see the near-vertical rock wall high above. Despite its very low flow volume in any conditions, the plunge over the rock is impressive. Beaten paths lead upslope closer to the falls.
From the junction of Rts. 3 and 49, west of exit 28 off I-93, drive south and immediately take the first right onto Dan Webb Road. At the four-way junction at the curve in the road, take the nearest right onto Ellsworth Hill Road. Follow this road for the next 7.6 miles to the waterfall. This will be a scenic drive that will take you past excellent views into the White Mountains. After 4.6 miles the road becomes dirt, and this portion is not maintained during the winter months. 3 miles into the dirt portion, look for a pull-off on the right, just before the bridge over Brown Brook, where the waterfall is. If visiting when the road is closed, you may approach from the south by taking Stinson Lake Road from Rt. 25 to the north end of Stinson Lake. Parking can be found at the Three Ponds Trailhead, 6.9 miles up the road, if the road is not passable to the waterfall. Stepped Falls is 0.3 miles past this point. Click here for a Google map.

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