Top 11 Waterfall Hikes In New Hampshire, USA - Updated 2021

waterfall hikes in nh
Maria Cristina
Maria Cristina

For nature lovers, taking a waterfall trail hike offers a different kind of high. Not only do you get to appreciate the majestic appearance of the waterfalls, taking the trail or rappelling down the falls makes the trip a lot more exciting. One of the best places where you’ll find the most gorgeous waterfalls and challenging trails are in New Hampshire, the USA! This tiny state between Vermont and Maine is referred to as vacationland. It is a beloved vacation destination because of its many lakes, ocean beaches, and the White Mountains. It offers lots of opportunities for outdoor fun. Hampton Beach, Lake Winnipesaukee, and North Conway are favorite family destinations. Whether its summer or winter, experience outdoor adventures at the White Mountains and Seacoast. Take one of the top waterfall hikes in New Hampshire, the USA for a unique vacation. We’ve listed them below so check them out.

Travel Advisory

Trip101 recommends assessing the risks before hitting the hiking and trekking trails. Please be especially aware of the difficulty levels, the locations’ ground conditions, as well as the seasonal risks.

1. Kinsman Falls and Rocky Glen Falls, Lincoln and Franconia

Kinsman Falls and Rocky Glen Falls are two of the many waterfalls extending from Cascade Brook. The mile-long (1.6 kilometers) brook can be viewed from Basin-Cascades Trail using the man-made bridges along Franconia Notch Bike Path. Some parts of the path are wheelchair-accessible. The first to be given an official name is Kinsmans Falls, a narrow waterfall that is 15 feet (4.57 meters) long and plunges into a small pond where people can swim. The last waterfall along the trail is Rocky Glen Falls. Although Rocky Glen Falls is the finest-looking among all the falls along the trail, it is not fit for swimming.

Kinsman Falls and Rocky Glen Falls

Address: Basin Cascade Trail, Franconia, NH 03580, United States

Website: Kinsman Falls and Rocky Glen Falls

2. Arethusa Falls, Hart's Location

Arethusa Falls
Source: Photo by user Miles Scanlon used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Arethusa Falls measure 125 to 200 feet (38.1 to 60.96 meters) tall making it the highest single-drop waterfalls in the White Mountains. The water is sourced from the Bemis Brook headwaters that tumble over the Crawford Notch western slopes. Formerly called Tuckerman Falls, the water falling from a multi-tiered granite cliff creates a lovely sight as the powerful streams of water appears to be falling from the clouds. The water streams strongly during high water runs and on prolonged droughts, it falls into hundreds of trickles. During summer, the graceful waterfall is a favorite destination of White Mountain National Forest day hikers and at fall, it is surrounded by colorful foliage. It is a challenging place to climb for first-time climbers and ice hikers during winter.

Arethusa Falls

Address: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire

Website: Arethusa Falls

3. Rainbow Falls, Plymouth

Source: Photo by user Abigail Batchelder used under CC BY 2.0

One of New Hampshire's’ finest waterfalls is found outside White Mountain National Forest. Rainbow Falls which is a horsetail-type waterfall measuring 25 feet (7.62 meters) in height is found in the Walter-Newton Natural Area in the town of Plymouth Grafton County. It is best to visit this well-kept nature preserve during the months of May to October so you can enjoy exploring its hiking trails that stretch for several miles and its horsetail waterfalls which cascade down a wide granite façade. The upper part of the waterfalls is well-formed and picturesque. Though swimming is not allowed, there are well-placed benches where you can sit back and enjoy the view.

Rainbow Falls

Address: 47 Cummings Hill Rd, Plymouth, NH 03264, United States

Website: Rainbow Falls

4. Nancy Cascades, Livermore

Nancy Cascades is made up of two parts and a combination of horsetails and cascades making it among the tallest waterfalls in New England. Water from Nancy Pond flows into Nancy Brook and fans into a horsetail falling into the rust-colored pool waters 45 feet (13.71 meters) below. This marks the lowest segment of the waterfalls which is accessible by climbing a 2.5-mile (4.02-kilometer) trail. The challenging climb is rewarded with the spectacular view of the waterfalls and the dark and frothy pond waters are suitable for swimming. Directly above the lower part of the waterfalls, the trail provides access to another set of falls measuring 80 feet (24.38 meters) tall. These are a combination of slides, horsetails, chutes, and small plunges. Beyond that, around 600 feet (182.88 meters) above the falls, is Nancy Pond, the source of its waters. The waterfalls system was named after a legendary Nancy who drowned in these waters after being jilted by a lover.

Nancy Cascades

Address: Livermore, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Website: Nancy Cascades

5. Falling Waters, Lincoln and Franconia

Falling Waters
Source: Photo by user Qfamily used under CC BY 2.0

Lincoln and Franconia towns in Grafton County are home to Falling Waters Trail. This 3.2-mile (5.14 kilometers) trail leads to the apex of Little Haystack Mountain wherein you’ll see three waterfalls along the way - Stairs Falls, Swiftwater Falls, and Cloudland Falls. The first waterfall measures 15 feet (4.57 meters) tall is watered by the Dry Brook. The water flows down tiny granite steps plunging into a shallow pond. The second waterfall is above the first by 100 feet (30.48 meters). Measuring 60 feet (18.28 meters) tall, it’s a combination of small plunges and cascades. It’s a busy place where crowds gather and where the Dry Book and trail converge. The last and most picturesque of all is the 80-feet (24.38 meters) high falls with its top measuring 2 feet (0.61 meters) wide fanning into a 25-feet (7.62 meters) wide bottom.

Falling Waters

Address: Lincoln and Franconia towns, Grafton County

Website: Falling Waters

6. Ripley Falls, Hart's Location

Ripley Falls, New Hampshire
Source: Photo by user Navin75 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Crawford Notch State Park Located in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire is abundant with remarkable waterfalls. The southern area of the park is a famous day-trip destination that features three gorgeous waterfalls and one of them is Ripley Falls. This lovely waterfall is 100 feet (30.48 meters) tall with its layers of whitewater cascading down a smooth rock wall that is angled at 60 degrees. It makes it appear that the mountain water flows down the rock without losing contact with its surface. This makes Ripley Falls New England’s steepest-angle waterfall offering the most exciting activities like rappelling down the picturesque falls.

Ripley Falls

Address: Harts Location, New Hampshire

Website: Ripley Falls

7. Avalanche Falls and Liberty Cascades, Lincoln

Avalanche Falls
Source: Photo by Flickr user rickpilot_2000 used under CC BY 2.0

From early May up to mid-October is the best time to visit the prettiest waterfalls of New England. The most famous waterfall hike is around “The Flume” or Flume-Pool Loop, a 2-mile (3.21 km) loop trail featuring a long flume, bridges, waterfalls, glacial boulders, and the regions’ deepest waterfall pool. Avalanche Falls near Flume Gorge’s boardwalk comes after Table Rock, the first waterfall. This waterfall was formed during the 1883 storm and its picturesque form is a popular crowd-pleaser. Hike to the top and view the 45-foot (72.42 kilometers) high plunge to take great pictures. Further along the loop is the 70-foot (112.65 kilometers) tall horsetail, Liberty Cascades. It creates the best Instagram pictures with its sun-filled gorge viewed from a single observation platform.

Avalanche Falls and Liberty Cascades

Address: Lincoln, New Hampshire

Website: Avalanche Falls and Liberty Cascades

8. Zealand Falls, Bethlehem

Zealand Falls of Bethlehem, New Hampshire is found in White Mountain National Forest of Grafton County. The sunlit waterfalls flow down a rock wall with its lower part hidden in a tapered flume. At the base of its smaller, 4-feet (1.21 meter) waterfall is a wading pool. Near the trail of this lovely waterfall, you’ll see scenic swamplands and Zealand Pond, a body of mountain water. On the top of the falls is AMC Zealand Falls Hut. The backcountry hut is conveniently located to provide an all-year-round pitstop for hikers with comfy overnight lodgings complete with meals, snacks, and lemonade! Upstream are smaller falls visible on and off the trail near the AMC huts.

Zealand Falls

Address: Bethlehem, New Hampshire

Website: Zealand Falls

9. Bridal Veil Falls, Franconia

Bridal Veil Falls is among White Mountain National Forest’s most picturesque waterfalls that it is often featured in publications as one of the famous attractions in the area. The 35-foot (10.67 meters) waterfalls cascade over angled rocks before hitting the tiny pool below. Beneath the plunge is a huge waterslide that goes over a flat and polished granite. The hike around Bride Water Falls is a 5-mile (8.05 kilometers) long roundtrip. It is best to bring along your camping gear and sleepover at Coppermine Shelter located 0.2 miles (0.32 kilometers) under the falls. Finding the Bette Davis plaque on a huge boulder at the brook’s right edge is the highlight of the trek.

Bridal Veil Falls

Address: Franconia, New Hampshire

Website: Bridal Veil Falls

10. Sabbaday Falls, Waterville Valley

Sabbaday Falls NH
Source: Photo by user Petersent used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Carved from the waters of melted glaciers from 10,000 years ago, the Sabbaday Falls main gorge is a sight to behold. At the top of the falls is a 5-foot (1.52 meters) high punchbowl which falls peacefully into a 4-foot (1.22 meters) wide circular pond. From here, the falls take a 22-feet (6.70 meters) deep plunge. When it lands, it runs right before it plunges 8-feet (2.43 meters) into the water. To access all three sections of the waterfalls, you’ll have to cross bridges and do a lot of walking. Though Clearwater Pond is perfect for relaxing, swimming is not allowed. Waterfalls like Champney Falls, Rocky Gorge, Lower Falls, and Kancamagus Highway are nearby.

Sabbaday Falls

Address: Waterville Valley, New Hampshire

Website: Sabbaday Falls

Go where the water flows

By following these trails, you are taken to a journey where you will enjoy the awesome natural scenery of these waterfalls. Climb, traverse, and rappel these falls for a heart-pounding experience. Be sure to enjoy one of these exciting waterfall hikes on your next visit to New Hampshire, the USA!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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