Arethusa Falls, New Hampshire

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Arethusa Falls in September 2010

Looking back at a waterfall I visited nearly 10 years ago, feelings sometimes change. I wasn’t particularly impressed with Arethusa Falls, which can be found in Crawford Notch State Park along with Bemis Brook Falls and Coliseum Falls. There wasn’t much water flowing over the falls, so I don’t think they had the full effect I was expecting, considering Arethusa Falls gets a lot of fanfare. But looking back, I realize the beauty of the falls now.

Looking through old pictures, one of the other things I realize is that I visited the area over Labor Day, and it was very busy. Arethusa Falls isn’t difficult to get to, though a 3 mile round-trip hike is involved. Even then, there were so many people. It was difficult to get a full shot of the falls where 15 people weren’t in the picture. So this waterfall might take on a different feeling when there’s more water flowing and it isn’t as crowded.

Directions:

  1. The parking area for the falls is found off of route 302 in Crawford Notch State Park, which is an impressive place to find waterfalls.
  2. About 1.5 miles south of Willey House, you’ll find the parking area for the falls. Heading south, the turn will be on your right. If I remember correctly, during the busy times of the year, there is a parking lot right off the road that looks very full, but you do not have to park there. Driving further down that road leads to a parking area that is much less busy, and much closer to the trail head.
  3. At the parking area, you’ll see a private house. Head to the left, and begin to follow the trail. You’ll cross railroad tracks, and then you’ll continue on the trail for a short distance.
  4. You can follow the trail directly to Arethusa Falls, or veer off to the left on the Bemis Brook Trail to see Bemis Brook Falls and Coliseum Falls. It may be easier to do on the return hike.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 160′
Length of Hike: 3 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Arethusa Falls?

Bemis Brook Falls, New Hampshire

Crawford Notch State Park contains a number of waterfalls in its boundaries. One of the main attractions is Arethusa Falls, a 160′ falls. Along the way to the main attraction, though, you can veer off and see two other smaller falls. I think it’s worth it, though depending on what path you take, there may be some regret, physically that is.

Taking the Bemis Brook Trail leads you to Bemis Brook Falls. This portion of the trail is very easy to hike, and it’s rather enjoyable. While Bemis Brook Falls is not particularly tall, it is beautiful nonetheless. The exposed layers of rock form stairs of sorts that the falls cascade down in two separate portions. Continuing upstream, you will come along Coliseum Falls, which is equally as interesting. If you do this part of the hike first, realize you will have to climb a surprisingly steep hill to connect back onto the main path. It’s by no means impossible, it just might leave you winded for a bit. If you head to Arethusa Falls first, and then connect to the Bemis Brook Trail, that might be less strenuous as you’ll be going downhill.

Directions:

  1. The parking area for the falls is found off of route 302 in Crawford Notch State Park, which is an impressive place to find waterfalls.
  2. About 1.5 miles south of Willey House, you’ll find the parking area for the falls. Heading south, the turn will be on your right. If I remember correctly, during the busy times of the year, there is a parking lot right off the road that looks very full, but you do not have to park there. Driving further down that road leads to a parking area that is much less busy, and much closer to the trail head.
  3. At the parking area, you’ll see a private house. Head to the left, and begin to follow the trail. You’ll cross railroad tracks, and then you’ll continue on the trail for a short distance.
  4. After a ways, veer to the left to follow the Bemis Brook Trail. This is where you’ll encounter Bemis Brook Falls and Coliseum Falls. This path is actually very easy.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 3 miles round-trip (to see all three falls)

Bemis Brook Falls in September 2010

Where in the World is Bemis Brook Falls?

Flume Cascade, New Hampshire

Flume Cascade in September 2010

Right near the entrance of Crawford Notch State Park, you may notice a stream or two flowing down the bedrock. One of them is Silver Cascade, while the other is Flume Cascade. While there are a plethora of people climbing up and down Silver Cascade, there aren’t nearly as many people (if any) near Flume Cascade. If I remember correctly, this shot was taken from the bridge, and there’s not any particularly easy way to get closer to the falls. In this case, the falls are take up a lot of “space”, and so if you were really close to the falls, you might not be able to grasp the full magnitude of the cascade. And while Flume Cascade is relatively tall, it’s not the most attractive waterfall in the park or in the general vicinity. Still, this cascade is so easy to visit it would be crazy not to at least stop!

Directions:

  1. From the cross-section of US-3 and US-302 in New Hampshire, head southeast on US-302 to the entrance for Crawford Notch State Park. (The entrance isn’t really a formal entrance, but I think there is a sign.)
  2. After entering the park, look on the left of US-302, and you’ll see both Flume and Silver Cascades. They’re pretty difficult to miss, unless there’s some reason they’ve dried up!

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 300′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Flume Cascade?

Lower Glen Ellis Falls, New Hampshire

Below Glen Ellis Falls, there are a number of other very interesting, or at least photogenic, drops along the river. In order to view these lower falls (or maybe better described as cascades), you do have to veer from the path and do a little climbing down the hill that follows the river further downstream. It is not a particularly steep hill, and there are very clearly tracks where people have walked before to see these falls. While they are not nearly as impressive as Glen Ellis Falls, they still have a beauty to them. I think that the drop shown in the first picture below is actually very cool, and a photographer could have a lot of fun photographing the falls at longer shutter speeds.

Directions:

  1. I arrived at the falls from US-302. At the junction of US-302 and NH-16, head north (really the only option).
  2. After heading north on NH-16/Pinkham Notch Road for a ways, you’ll come to the parking area for the falls. If you’re heading north, it will be on the left side of the road, clearly marked with a sign for Glen Ellis Falls.
  3. The parking area had openings, which was surprising since it was Labor Day weekend, so you’ll probably be able to find spots most anytime. From there, head toward the trail to Glen Ellis Falls.
  4. You’ll pass under NH-16 through a tunnel, and then from there, follow the stairs down to the falls. There are a number of stairs.
  5. After walking down the stairs, detour so that you head further downstream, following the river.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip

One portion of Lower Glen Ellis Falls (September 2010)

Second portion of Lower Glen Ellis Falls

Where in the World is Lower Glen Ellis Falls?

Coliseum Falls, New Hampshire

Coliseum Falls in September 2010

I thought that Coliseum Falls was a fun little (but “long”) waterfall in Crawford Notch State Park. And if you choose the right trail, you can see this waterfall pretty easily, along with Bemis Brook Falls. Further along the trail, and with some difficulty, you can find Arethusa Falls, which is the main attraction.

The test here is to see how many of Coliseum Falls’ drops you can photograph all at once. The waterfall drops a number of times, though each of those drops are small. Adding all of those drops together, though, makes for a more impressive waterfall. I also found the rock along the river to be very beautiful. The colors are verging on reddish-orange, especially when the water runs over it.

Directions:

  1. The parking area for the falls is found off of route 302 in Crawford Notch State Park, which is an impressive place to find waterfalls.
  2. About 1.5 miles south of Willey House, you’ll find the parking area for the falls. Heading south, the turn will be on your right. If I remember correctly, during the busy times of the year, there is a parking lot right off the road that looks very full, but you do not have to park there. Driving further down that road leads to a parking area that is much less busy, and much closer to the trail head.
  3. At the parking area, you’ll see a private house. Head to the left, and begin to follow the trail. You’ll cross railroad tracks, and then you’ll continue on the trail for a short distance.
  4. After a ways, veer to the left to follow the Bemis Brook Trail. This is where you’ll encounter Bemis Brook Falls and Coliseum Falls. This path is actually very easy. If you wish to continue on to Arethusa Falls from this route, be aware that there is a steep hill that you must climb up to get to the other trail. It is not a simple feat, and you should be in good physical shape. It might actually be easier to go on the Bemis Brook Trail on the way back. You’ll be climbing down the steep hill, but it might less problematic?

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 3 miles round-trip (to see all three falls)

Where in the World is Coliseum Falls?

Upper Glen Ellis Falls, New Hampshire

Upper Glen Ellis Falls in Septemer 2010

This isn’t officially named Upper Glen Ellis Falls, and I have to admit many people wouldn’t even given a second thought  this falls, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Glen Ellis Falls has one impressive, main drop, but above and below, there are numerous other drops that are equally as pretty AND equally accessible. Above Glen Ellis Falls, there are at least two other visible drops, and this is just one of them. Other falls in the area have falls and rapids above and below them, but none seem to be as photogenic as those above and below Glen Ellis Falls.

Directions:

  1. I arrived at the falls from US-302. At the junction of US-302 and NH-16, head north (really the only option).
  2. After heading north on NH-16/Pinkham Notch Road for a ways, you’ll come to the parking area for the falls. If you’re heading north, it will be on the left side of the road, clearly marked with a sign for Glen Ellis Falls.
  3. The parking area had openings, which was surprising since it was Labor Day weekend, so you’ll probably be able to find spots most anytime. From there, head toward the trail to Glen Ellis Falls.
  4. You’ll pass under NH-16 through a tunnel, and then from there, follow the stairs down to the falls. There are a number of stairs.

Accessibility: 10/10 (without further exploration)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Upper Glen Ellis Falls?

Ripley Falls, New Hampshire

People often Ripley Falls as one of their favorite falls in the New England area. I guess I just wasn’t nearly as impressed… I actually wasn’t impressed with Ripley or Arethusa Falls, which is very close by. That may be partially due to the rather low flow at the falls when I visited. I’ve seen pictures at higher flow that look pretty, but at low flow, the water seems to get lost.

I visited over Labor Day weekend, so Crawford Notch State Park and the White Mountain National Forest were jumping with people. The roadside falls and Arethusa Falls seemed to be the busiest, while Ripley Falls was less hopping. That was a good thing. It was more peaceful at Ripley Falls, and there weren’t a number of people standing right in my view. Still, my top waterfall goes to Glen Ellis Falls.

Directions:

  1. Ripley Falls is found off of US-302 in Crawford Notch State Park. If you enter the park from the northern “entrance”, you’ll find these falls a little more than 3 miles after entering park.
  2. You’ll see a sign for Ripley Falls, and that’s your indication to turn. At first, you will see a parking lot, which was very full. Do not park here. Head further down the road to the parking for Ripley Falls, which actually had spots and lead much more quickly to the trail for the falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 100′
Length of Hike: 1.2 miles round-trip

Ripley Falls in September 2010

Where in the World is Ripley Falls?

Glen Ellis Falls, New Hampshire

Glen Ellis Falls in September 2010

Glen Ellis Falls is a perfect example of how people can view waterfalls differently. There were a number of waterfalls in New Hampshire in the White Mountains area that I had visited before Glen Ellis Falls, and many of those falls were rated more highly. While many of those falls, like Ripley and Arethusa Falls, were pretty, I just wasn’t overwhelmingly impressed. I hadn’t really seen any waterfall that stood out to me. I hadn’t necessarily even planned on visiting Glen Ellis Falls, it just so happened to be on the route I was taking heading in to Maine.

So I was VERY pleasantly surprised when I got my first glimpse of Glen Ellis Falls from the base. The waterfall is about 60+’ tall, but wow, is it a powerful waterfall.  There may be the same amount of water at other falls nearby, but here all of the water is forced through a crest that is not that wide. I instantly knew, though, that this was going to be one my favorite waterfalls from my trip through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Glen Ellis Falls was so inviting.

Not to mention that it’s also a VERY easy waterfall to visit. To visit Arethusa and Ripley Falls, I had to take longer walks, not that they were too bad. The short hike to Glen Ellis Falls is an added benefit. You can add on the falls by exploring further downstream, where there are a number of other interesting drops.

Directions:

  1. I arrived at the falls from US-302. At the junction of US-302 and NH-16, head north (really the only option).
  2. After heading north on NH-16/Pinkham Notch Road for a ways, you’ll come to the parking area for the falls. If you’re heading north, it will be on the left side of the road, clearly marked with a sign for Glen Ellis Falls.
  3. The parking area had openings, which was surprising since it was Labor Day weekend, so you’ll probably be able to find spots most anytime. From there, head toward the trail to Glen Ellis Falls.
  4. You’ll pass under NH-16 through a tunnel, and then from there, follow the stairs down to the falls. There are a number of stairs.

Accessibility: 9/10 (without further exploration)
Height: 64′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Glen Ellis Falls?