Waterfalling in New England

With all due respect to ’90’s R&B superstars, TLC, sticking to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…is boring.

Our family loves to hike. We love to get out, put on our comfortable and sturdy shoes and go see what we can find. Our kids are game for just about any trail (within reason, of course) we set them on. We’re blessed to live in a corner of the world that affords a lot of different types of hikes. Rugged coastlines, history-rich trails and woods full of glacial boulders are all in our extended backyard. But, there’s one type of hike we have found to be most rewarding over the years: waterfalling.

I have always been enamored with waterfalls. They can be powerful and awe-inspiring. At the same time, they are also peaceful and calming. And they are persistent. Relentless. In my opinion, they make a great “destination” when it comes to choosing a hiking trail. “Oh, there’s a waterfall at the end of this? Let’s go!”

And, so we’ve gone.

Relaxing at Lower Thompson Falls – Pinkham Notch, NH

Anytime we find ourselves somewhere where the natural world takes center stage (the Pacific Northwest, The Canadian Maritimes, etc.) we seek out the local falls and make every attempt to pay a visit. But, we know, too, that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of stunning waterfalls within a couple hour radius of our home. So, whenever we get the chance, we grab our guide books and head off to find a new plunge or visit a favorite cascade.

Living in southern New England (and at sea level) means that we have to range out a bit to get to the truly spectacular falls in our area, but day trips and quick weekend getaways are conducive as well as beneficial in their own right. So, we find ourselves wandering the rivers and forests a little to our north. Some of our favorite spots so far are in the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch – one of the loveliest areas in the Northeast, in my opinion – is well worth the state park admission charge to enjoy the well-manicured trails and up close interaction with features like Table Rock and Avalanche Falls.

Avalanche Falls – Lincoln, NH

A little further to the East is the gem of the White Mountains, Arethusa Falls. This 140′ horsetail serves as a stunning reward to the rugged 1.5 mile hike from the trailhead. It’s hardly possible to be prepared for the sheer scale of this impressive sight.

Arethusa Falls – Livermore, NH

Over in Vermont, we like the short hike along the brook up to Moss Glen Falls. Any time we are in Stowe (which is as often as possible) we try to stop by this lovely, multi-tiered waterfall. Nearby Bingham Falls is a little more of a robust hike along a fire road to the top of the falls where it plunges into the circular gorge below.

Moss Glen Falls – Stowe, VT

There are plenty more. Some we have been to. Some have long been on our to-do list. And some, we don’t even know about yet. Chasing waterfalls is – despite TLC’s objections – a wonderful pastime. Few things in nature can match the subtle thrill of hearing the sound of rushing water slowly start to cut through the otherwise quiet forest. As it grows louder and louder, you know you are getting close. Then, you round that last bend or crest that last hill and you see it.  And every one has something different to offer.  As long as there is another trail with a new waterfall at the end of it, we’ll be looking for a chance to take it on.


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