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Waterfalls in Mt. Washington Valley


Waterfalls, flumes, and cascades are the ideal place to take the family, or have a romantic moment with a loved one. And no where in New England are waterfalls so abundant and accessible for viewing and enjoying.

An important note: while there is no admission to see the falls, you will be required to pay $5.00 for a one-day pass, or purchase one for the year for $30.00 for a single vehicle annual pass or $40.00 for a two vehicle annual pass. These passes are available at the Saco Ranger Station, located at the base of the Kancamagus Highway, in Conway, or any area Ranger Station, and at a variety of places throughout Mt. Washington Valley.

Sabbaday Falls: There are three drops in the falls, pretty pools and a pothole formed by the swirling waters and sand. 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 Kanc. 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’ wall of water, followed by a 20’ 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 – the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. The falls are a 0.3 mile walk up.

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.

Enjoy a short hike to Arethusa Falls, off of Crawford Notch.

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. 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 is made up of many cascades and falls, with a 100 foot total drop.

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, or dinner. Well-behaved pets are welcome to play in the falls as well.

Jackson Falls has a dirt parking lot overlooking the falls. There is no charge for parking, but all parking spots are limited to two-hour time limits. If you exceed this time-limit, you can be ticketed a $50.00 fine. The town of Jackson monitors the Jackson Falls parking lot, closely. You’ll also notice that there are three spots reserved for full-time (denoted by proof of car registration) Jackson residents, and are not available to visitors. Directions: Take Carter Notch Road about 3/10 mile from Route 16A in Jackson.

Kancamagus Highway, Lower Falls & Rocky Gorge: From Route 16 in Conway, head east on the Kancamagus Highway. Seven miles from Conway you’ll come to a cluster of waterfalls fed from Rocky Gorge, called the Lower Falls. Especially popular since it offers both fast and slow-moving water in small falls, small sandy beaches, picnic tables, parking and changing rooms.  

While you can’t swim in it, the Rocky Gorge, is just 2 miles further up the road, and offers a 10' drop and rapids through the gorge, which are too dangerous for swimmers of any ability, and swimming is prohibited in the Gorge.

You can find walking paths along the Swift River, and a bridge from which to view the gorge for a nice, leisurely, nature walk. It’s also important to note that the rocks at Lower Falls are slipper, and losing your footing can happen, so make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and proceed with caution.

The parking lots for the falls are maintained by the US Forest Service via the Saco Ranger District. A $5.00 parking fee, per day is required, and is self-pay through a dispensary located at all lots. You can by check or cash, and deposit the payment in an envelope provided at the self-pay station. The envelope has a removable section, that you would fillet and hang from the rear-view mirror in your car. Once you pay the $5.00 fee in one parking lot, you are covered for all parking lots within the district for the amount of days you paid for.

For more information on visiting Mt. Washington Valley, call 1-800-367-3364.

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