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9 Summer Waterfall Hikes

There are so many incredible waterfalls in the White Mountains and there is nothing more magical than taking a walk in the woods and stumbling across one of these beauties. While this is by no means a complete list, you can use these 9 waterfall hikes as a guide to explore new waterfalls and maybe find a new favorite.

Falling Waters Trail

Location: Franconia Notch State Park
Distance: 3-6 miles One Way or 6-12 miles Round Trip
Time: 3-8 hours
Parking: Lafayette Campground

This popular trail to the summit of Little Haystack Mountain brings you past three waterfalls. Stairs Falls is the first waterfall seen on this trip. A few hundred feet above Stairs Falls is Swiftwater Falls ; a 60-foot mix of cascades and small plunges. The last waterfall, and by far the main attraction of this trail, is 80-foot Cloudland Falls , a picturesque fan-type horsetail. Like the other two waterfalls, this waterfall can be seen from the trail, but the best views are afforded by sidestepping off the main trail and getting closer to the falls.

Rainbow Falls

Location: Walter Newton Natural Area-Plymouth
Distance: 1.2- mile loop

Time: 1.5 hours

Parking: Cummings Hill Road

This is a great trail for beginners of for families with young kids, as the trail itself has very few inclines and leads to Rainbow Falls in under 30 minutes. There is a marsh along the way with benches to take a break and watch for birds. The falls themselves are quite spectacular after a rainfall.

Brook Walk at the Castle in the Clouds

Location: Castle in the Clouds-Moultonborough
Distance: 1 mile round trip

Time: 1 hour
Parking: Hiker Parking Lot at Castle in the Clouds

The Brook Walk is a beautiful and historic trail on the Castle in the Clouds property and is owed and maintained by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust. You get a lot of waterfall bang for your buck as there are seven waterfalls to stop at along the way. The walk culminates with the Falls of Song waterfall, which has a 40-foot plunge that can be viewed from a boardwalk along the trail.

Sabbaday Falls

Location: Kancamagus Highway
Distance: 0.7-mile round trip

Time: 1 hour
Parking: Sabbaday Falls Parking on the Kancamagus Highway ($5.00 parking fee)

This is a great trail for beginners, families with kids, and while the crushed gravel path is a little steep in spots, it is considered wheelchair friendly. There is also a rustic restroom facility on-site. The falls themselves plunge about 22 feet with walking bridges to assist in viewing.

Ripley Falls

Location: Crawford Notch State Park
Distance: 1 mile round trip

Time: 1.5 hours
Parking: Route 302 Parking Area

Ripley Falls is a beautiful 100-foot waterfall flowing over a smooth rock wall. The rock wall is at about a 60-degree angle, causing the rushing mountain water to maintain contact with the rock during most of its descent. There are only short, temporary periods where the water jumps away from the rock wall. Because of this, Ripley Falls, as an entire structure, is one of the steepest-angled slides in New England. (Continue along through Crawford Notch to also hike the 2.6-mile Bemis Brook Trail which brings you past Coliseum Falls, Bemis Falls, and Arethusa Falls).

Glen Ellis Falls

Location: Jackson-Pinkham Notch
Distance: 0.6- mile round trip

Time: 1 hour
Parking: Route 16-Pinkham Notch

The trail to the 64-foot waterfall is rather quick and easy and is great for families. There is a series of staircases that will help get you closer to the falls. This is one of the more popular waterfall hikes in the Pinkham Notch region.

Thompson Falls

Location: Gorham-Pinkham Notch
Distance: 1.2-mile round trip

Time: 1.5 hours
Parking: Wildcat Mountain-Route 16-Pinkham Notch

The Way of the Wildcat trail begins in the Wildcat Mountain parking lot and brings you to the beautiful and relaxing Thompson Falls. This trail is only a little over 0.5 miles each way and is a great spot to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Cascade Path

Location: Waterville Valley
Distance: 3-miles round trip

Time: 2 hours

Parking: Snows Mountain Parking Area at Waterville Valley

While this is a longer trail than most of the others on this list, it is still quite easy, with only one hilly section at the start of the hike. There are two sets of cascades at the end of the trail, perfect for wading, swimming, and having lunch.

Georgiana Falls

Location: Lincoln
Distance: 1.4 miles out and back

Time: 2 hours

Parking: Hanson Farm Road-Lincoln

Most of this trail runs along an old snowmobile trail, so it is relatively flat and an easy hike for families or those just looking for a quick jaunt to a waterfall. Georgiana Falls is a 30-foot cascade and is a great spot to soak in the scenery.