NH Family Hikes




Top 10 Waterfalls in New Hampshire

We've ranked our ten favorite New Hampshire waterfalls! These are our most highly recommended picks of known, publicly accessible waterfalls. There are known to be many 'lost' waterfalls, tucked away in the forest and visited only by devoted waterfall hunters, but we are spotlighting only those which have a maintained hiking trail for access. Scroll through the list to see if there are any you've never visited - all of these are essentials for NH residents!

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10

Nancy Cascades

Livermore

The highlight of the 4-mile "best of the White Mountains" trek of the Nancy Pond Trail is the giant cascade chain on Nancy Brook. The bottom cascade is what comes into view first as you approach the waterfall, and it is the highest straight drop on the brook. In good conditions, the water drapes out over the bumpy cliff in an impressive white fan. Stepping stones allow close inspection of the crashing brook. Above the main drop, a short walk up the steep forest trail allows viewing of the lower-angle falls in the ledgy brookbed above the main drop, where there are more diverse and interesting features to hold your attention. The Nancy Cascades and their eponymous trail are really one of the Whites' most underappreciated treasures.

9

Sabbaday Falls

Waterville Valley

Sabbaday is one of the popular tourist stops on the Kancamagus Highway, for good reason. It's one of the most powerful waterfalls in the Whites, and it couldn't be easier to get to. Just a short stroll along the gravel paths rewards you with a close-up look at the falls, their aqua-tinted pools, and the enchanting mossy gorge. The bridge above the main drop allows for a straight view down the tumbling, rocky chasm.

8

Harvard Falls

Lincoln

By far the most obscure waterfall on our list, Harvard Falls rewards those who trek to it with the feeling of discovering something special that no one else has. Only slightly less unknown is the spectacular cascade downstream from Harvard, Georgiana Falls. Visitors have the pleasure of accompanying the tumbling brook along small boulder-filled plunges up to the beautiful side-by-side waterslides of Georgiana. A rough, wild path only recently made official leads beyond to the mystical Harvard Falls, with its nuances that merit exploration. It is a multi-part waterfall to be viewed from many angles. The most determined waterfall enthusiasts can find their way to the very top of the cascades, where there is a unique view both over the water and into the distance.

7

Cloudland Falls

Lincoln

Located on the Falling Waters Trail, a contender for the most heavily-used hiking trail in the White Mountains, Cloudland Falls is often mentioned in the same description as its companions, Stairs and Swiftwater Falls. A hike along the lower portion of the trail captures all three along with other features around the paradoxically-named Dry Brook. The short, square Stairs Falls and the winding Swifwater Falls are delightful, but the real treasure is Cloudland with its majestic, graceful spread over its impressive cliff. It also has the best feature a waterfall can have: surroundings. In addition to being able to walk up along the scattered rocks in the brook below to gaze up at the crashing falls, you can also follow the trail up to the ledge and brook above, where two smaller cascades converge and flow over the edge in the presence of nice views out of the valley.

6

Giant Falls

Shelburne

If you visit Giant Falls in the late summer months, you're likely to wonder why we praise it so highly, if you aren't wondering why people call the damp cliff a waterfall. But catch it with the aid of spring snowmelt, and you will behold an awe-inspiring torrent. Often overlooked for its northern location and seasonality, Giant Falls is not to be missed at the right time of year. All the information you need to characterize this waterfall is contained in its simplistic but efficient name. What's most amazing is that what greets you at the end of the Giant Falls spur trail is only about half of what is really there. Another massive cataract lies hidden above - you can get a glimpse through the trees of the upper waterfalls on the walk there.

5

Garfield Falls

Pittsburg

Garfield Falls is almost as unknown as Harvard Falls, and much, much more remote. This one will test the devotion of even the most enthusiastic waterfall hunters, but as we stated at the beginning of this list, it's essential. Just surviving the navigation of the drive on rough, remote Magalloway Road deep into the logging wilderness of Pittsburg is part of the experience. Once there, it's a surprisingly short walk down the trail to the striking sight of the massive plunge in the isolated wilderness. The river is surrounded by a mysterious atmosphere enhanced by the gorgeous northern fir forest. The volume of water pouring over the dark cliff is sure to astound you.

4

Crystal Cascade

Pinkhams Grant

Like Cloudland Falls, this one is located on one of the most popular hiking trails in the White Mountains, the Tuckerman Ravine route to Mt. Washington. From the overlook just 0.3 miles up the trail, you can observe all 100 feet of Crystal Cascade, made up of a majestic 80-foot horsetail falls into a pool and a 20-foot plunge emptying from the pool. The trailside stop is quite the place to view it from, with its rocky parapet and cliff face, but the very observant hikers can find a way to access it up close by walking up along the stream from a bridge below to the pool in the middle of the falls. It's just as impressive to gaze up from right next to it.

3

Ammonoosuc Ravine

Sargents Purchase

This magnificent twin cascade is somehow officially nameless, so we refer to it by its location, in the Amonoosuc Ravine of Mt. Washington, on the trail of the same name. The trail is one of Washington's most exciting, as it follows the Amonoosuc River closely all the way to its source. The wild, rushing lower sections are impressive, as are the alpine ledges above, but its true beauty is this 100+ foot waterfall. After passing the small, highly regarded gem pool, which is named for its sparkling emerald hue, the trail starts climbing steeply, passing the small side path (which may or may not be marked) to these less-aprreciated and far more impressive cascades. The path leads down to a secluded perch high above a swirling pool that easily equals the beauty of the gem pool. The sight of the river split into two by a krummholz-covered rock divider as it crashes down 100 feet of mossy cliffs is absolutely incredible. The side-by-side cascades are completely different in character, adding to the interest.

2

Ripley Falls

Harts Location

Crawford Notch is filled with waterfall delights - another one made #10 on our list, and there are plenty more worth your attention. Ripley Falls is definitely one of the most visited and most impressive. It's one of the tallest around, but it's also uniquely beautiful. The water flow is majestic and wide at any water level, and though it flows quite steeply down, the sheet of water never leaves contact with the smooth cliff behind it. You can get right up close to this beauty, which is definitely one of the White Mountains' treasures to boast.

1

Arethusa Falls

Livermore

Also in Crawford Notch and in close proximity to Ripley is our #1 choice, Arethusa Falls. Of course, it's a popular and obvious choice, but there's a reason for that. No other New Hampshire waterfalls can match the combination of its huge water flow, gracefulness, and absolutely monolithic stature. It's a sight to behold as it drapes out over a 200-foot cliff - our state's tallest single drop. It can be viewed from up close, and it's impressive in all seasons. Add in the two additional waterfalls on the walk along Bemis Brook to get there, and you have the essential NH waterfall experience. If you haven't seen this one yet, that's a problem to be remedied right away.

Best of Southern NH: Garwin Falls

Wilton

The waterfalls of the White Mountains overshadow anything in the low, hilly southern regions, but we had to give an honorable mention to this one. Garwin Falls is the best we've found south of the Whites. Access is an easy walk along a wide woods road that's visited by many local residents. Garwin is a very unique multifaceted waterfall, deserving attention. It has a long, low-angle waterslide, a twin plunge, several hidden drops around the edges, and its most unusual feature: a splashing bubble where the water fans out from hitting a small rock.

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