When you think of winter, how often do waterfalls cross your mind?
Here in the White Mountains, our waterfalls are wonderful in every season. While summertime makes a mighty display of cerulean hues and cooling mists, we’re particularly fond of the changes that wintertime brings. On almost every waterfall hike this time of year, adventurers will encounter overhanging pine trees laden with thick dollops of snow, and the air thundering with the roar of water rushing beneath the snow. Meanwhile, the falls themselves turn into something truly majestic, caked in their rugged sheets of ice.
There are many dreamy waterfalls in the region, and most are accessible by a short hike. Before you hop in your car out of sheer excitement, though, be sure to prepare for winter conditions. Consider bringing microspikes, crampons, or snowshoes depending on the snowpack, and take some time to review the 10 essentials for any outdoor trip. These items are crucial to any outdoor expedition, and even more so during seasons with unpredictable weather events and consistently frosty temperatures.
Once you have properly prepared, it’s time to take a trip to our waterfalls during one of the best seasons in the Whites.
Sabbaday Falls - Kancamagus Highway, NH
Located 15 miles west of Conway on the Kancamagus Highway, it’s no wonder this waterfall ranks as the top spot for a short winter hike. The clearly marked path takes about 15 minutes on fair weather days, and reveals a series of small waterfalls tucked within a beautiful rocky flume.
Thompson Falls - Gorham, NH
Thompson Falls is one of the easiest, most rewarding waterfall hikes on our list. With 1.5-miles to traverse (roundtrip) and an overall elevation gain of 250’ feet, this stunning cascade at the base of Wildcat Mountain is well worth the visit. Walk past the base lodge and across a small bridge spanning the Peabody River, look for a sign for the Thompson Falls Trail, and your journey begins!
Rainbow Falls - Plymouth, NH
Looking for a family-friendly winter hike near Plymouth? Rainbow Falls is a winner. This fairly flat 1.2-mile out and back walk in the woods yields a picturesque winter scene complete with a 20’ tall frozen waterfall and many spots to snap a photo. To get there, look for the well-marked parking lot on Cummings Hill Road.
The Basin - Franconia, NH
This gem, tucked within the formidable footprint of Franconia Notch, is well worth a stop off I-93. A 10-minute walk brings you to the first of two different viewing areas along the trail; be sure to visit both to take in the full perspective of this wondrous, glacially carved pothole that has been beloved by photographers for generations.
Castle in the Clouds’ Brook Walk - Moultonborough, NH
Head a little bit south – Castle in the Clouds awaits! While the historic estate itself is shuttered for the winter, hikers are invited to explore the network of trails below it throughout the year. Parking is scarce, so show up early to secure your space in the small lot at the top of Ossipee Park Road in Moultonborough, NH. From there, multiple cascades await, as well as a stunning 40-foot plunge waterfall aptly named the Falls of Song.