White Mountains Waterfalls: 5 Scenic Cascade Hikes

Discover the 5 most scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire including how to get there and what to expect along the trail.

These 5 scenic hikes to White Mountains waterfalls are some of the best outdoor destinations in New Hampshire for hikers, backpackers, and of course, waterfall peepers. The 30+ waterfalls located in the White Mountains are nestled in between peaks, situated conveniently along the roadside, or on the way up to some of the tallest summits in the Whites with shelters nearby for an overnight stay.

The best thing about these waterfall hikes is their accessibility. There are out and back hikes and loop trails that cater to every skill level. Since there are so many options to pick from, you can choose your own adventure: sloping and well-traveled pathways with visitor centers and cafeterias? Or maybe it’s a multi-day trip with big vertical gains and alpine trails. Whatever you decide, these White Mountains waterfall hikes are scenic, adventurous, and totally worth your while.

Ready to get out there? Here are five scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire.

And as it goes with all of the destinations shared on Bearfoot Theory, please remember to Leave No Trace, be a respectful visitor, and practice good trail etiquette


White Mountains Waterfalls Hikes – Mapped


The 5 Best White Mountain Waterfalls Hikes

1 .The Gem Pool, The Gorge + The No-Name Waterfalls

  • Length: 4.4 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,627 ft
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Day use fee: $5 per vehicle
  • Pets: Allowed (on leash)
Gem Pool // Discover the 5 most scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire including how to get there and what to expect along the trail.

How To Get To Gem Pool & The Gorge

For hikers who want to see more than just waterfalls in New Hampshire’s White Mountains National Forest, this hike delivers. From Mount Washington’s Cog Railway Base Station parking lot, which is easily accessible via US 302 North, you can enter the scenic Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail and hike past three beautiful waterfalls.

This is a relatively short hike with quick vertical gains, but if you’re up for it, continue to hike up to the alpine where you can check out the Lake-of-the-Clouds Hut and continue on up Crawford Path to the summit of Mount Monroe.

Hiking to Gem Pool & The Gorge

Just 2.1 miles from the Cog Railway Base Station parking lot, you’ll find yourself at the Gem Pool. This gorgeous glacial pool is fed by a tumbling cascade that is one of the many no-name waterfalls on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. It’s a great spot to stop and cool off before the next half mile of the trail where you’ll climb 1,000 vertical feet.

About 0.2 miles from the Gem Pool, take a right on a side path marked by a carved wooden sign that leads you to the Gorge. After a rocky scramble up the headwall, the trail evens out and you’ll finally reach The Gorge — it’s hard to miss, thanks to the grandeur of its nameless waterfalls!

The path eventually crosses back over to the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail and you can either push on to summit Mount Monroe or turn around and take a quick walk back to the parking lot.

2. Georgiana Falls

  • Length: 2.6 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 790 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Day use fee: None
  • Pets: Allowed (on leash)
Georgiana Falls // Discover the 5 most scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire including how to get there and what to expect along the trail.

How To Get To Georgiana Falls

In the southern part of Franconia Notch, the Pemigewasset River and Merrimack Watershed break off into cascades and waterfalls. The most impressive cascade is Georgiana Falls.

These falls have two parts: a lower and an upper section. The top portion is sometimes referred to as Harvard Falls, so if you come across this description in a trail guide or hear it from a passerby, don’t be confused, you’re in the right place!

Drive along US Route 3 North to Hanson Farm Road in Lincoln, New Hampshire where you’ll find a free parking lot and a well-traveled yet somewhat unmarked trail with worn-out red blazes.

Hiking to Georgiana Falls

Though it may seem precarious, the trail is currently not looked after or maintained by any group or organization. It was formerly maintained by the US Forest Service and is now a popular trail for local hikers and waterfall peepers who visit in the spring and summer months. The trail is safe and well-traveled, so expect to see other hikers while you’re out there. Be sure to practice your trail etiquette and say hello!

To access the lower falls, follow the red blazes for about a mile, alongside Harvard Brook.

Georgiana Falls // Discover the 5 most scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire including how to get there and what to expect along the trail.

To access the upper falls, keep following the brook and red trail blazes for another mile and a half. Since the trail is not well-maintained, it’s not well-marked so be prepared to do a little bushwhacking to get there. Retrace your steps to get back down.

If that’s not your cup of tea, the lower falls is a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy the forested area. Of the 5 scenic waterfalls in the White Mountains of New Hampshire Georgina Falls is rumored to be the best spot for catching trout, so bring your pole, lunch, and plenty of water.

3. The Flume Gorge

Flume Gorge // Discover the 5 most scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire including how to get there and what to expect along the trail.

How To Get To Flume Gorge

The Flume Gorge is the most famous and busiest on our list of 5 scenic waterfalls in the White Mountains. It’s located in the heart of Franconia Notch on the western side of the White Mountain region. This geological wonder isn’t so much of a waterfall per se, as it is a narrow and long ravine that has been carved out of the bedrock over time with impressive rapids reaching up to about 9 stories high and 800 feet long.

For this reason, it’s a popular tourist attraction and has a well-maintained footpath that is good for people of all ages and skill levels. To get there, drive up US Route 3 North from North Lincoln or take Exit 1 off of the Notch Parkway (I-93) to the Flume Visitor Center.

Flume Gorge // Discover the 5 most scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire including how to get there and what to expect along the trail.

Hiking to Flume Gorge

Once you’ve parked at the Visitor Center, take the shuttle bus or walk a half-mile to Boulder Cabin just north of the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is open mid-May to Mid-October from 9am-5pm so during the off-season, you’ll have no choice but to leg it up there.

From here, you can access the Flume-Pool Loop Trail, which is a 2-mile forested trail on asphalt and then boardwalk planks that take you to the major viewpoints of the Flume: the Flume Gorge, Avalanche Falls, Liberty Gorge Cascade and the Pool.

Throughout this easygoing and scenic hike, there are plenty of places to stop, rest and take in the natural beauty of the area. Picture perfect views, towering cliff walls, and glacier-carried boulders make this short loop trail well worth a visit.

4. Bridalveil Falls

  • Length: 4.8 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,079 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Day use fee: None
  • Pets: Allowed (on leash)
Bridalveil Falls // Discover the 5 most scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire including how to get there and what to expect along the trail.

How To Get To Bridalveil Falls

In the heart of Franconia Notch, Bridalveil Falls is a beautiful cascade of tumbling boulders, pools, and long sliding rock slabs that make for the perfect natural waterslides. Located off of NH 116, south of Franconia Village, take the Coppermine Road and park along the shoulder of the road. Walk straight up the dirt road and past Coppermine Village.

When the trail forks left you’ll see a sign from the US Forest Service hiker sign indicating that you keep going straight here (don’t turn left!) and soon you’ll see yellow blazes but no trailhead sign until you walk a bit further. From here on out, you’ll continue on the clearly marked Coppermine Trail.

Hiking to Bridalveil Falls

This is a moderate out and back hike that’s only 2.5 miles long with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet. It runs parallel to the Coppermine Brook like a trail of breadcrumbs directing you to the falls. The entire 2.5 miles has a fairly steep pitch but once you cross the bridge over to Bridal Veil Falls towards the end, you’ll discover the perfect rest stop.

The falls have two parts: a lower ledge with a calm pool and a natural waterslide (!), plus an upper ledge that’s a quick scramble about 50 feet up. It’s worth making your way up to see the top half of the falls just watch your step for slippery lichen and slick rocks.

Discover the 5 most scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire including how to get there and what to expect along the trail.

This trail also connects to the Franconia Ridge Loop which is a very popular 8.5 mile hike in the White Mountains. Watch out for other hikers making their way down, although you do have the right of way going up. After a refreshing dip in the pool and a sunbath on the rock faces, head back out by following the Coppermine Trail to the highway to check this one off your list of 5 scenic waterfalls in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

5. Thoreau Falls

  • Length: 9.8 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 761 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Day use fee: $5
  • Pets: Allowed (on leash)
Discover the 5 most scenic White Mountains waterfall hikes in New Hampshire including how to get there and what to expect along the trail.

How To Get To Thoreau Falls

Located at the far end of Zealand Notch from Zealand Road off US 302, Thoreau Falls is the White Mountain’s tribute to writer and naturalist, Henry David Thoreau. From US 302, turn off at the Zealand Campground off Zealand Road and drive in 3.6 miles to the parking area and trailhead sign at the end of the road.

Hiking to Thoreau Falls

The route to the falls cuts straight through Zealand Notch for 4.6 miles via the Zealand Trail and Ethan Pond Trails. If you’re up for a multi-day hike and camping overnight, you can backpack to the Ethan Pond Shelter which means an extra 1,400-foot climb over nearby Willey Ridge.

If not, the Zealand Trail is a moderate hike with an elevation gain of 200 feet that’s not too difficult for most hikers as it follows the path of an old logging road. Keep following the trail’s blue blazes through the forested valley and straight into Zealand Notch where the area opens up for spectacular views of the valley and surrounding peaks.

Continue on past Zealand Pond, Whitewall Brook, and Zealand Falls, an equally stunning waterfall in its own right. As the Zealand Trail ends, look for signs for Ethan Pond Trail and follow the path for about 0.3 miles until you reach the sparkling cascades of Thoreau Falls. There are plenty of large boulders, rock slabs, and small crystal clear pools flanking the half-mile-long Thoreau Falls. Stay for a while and enjoy the scenery before heading back out.


What are your favorite waterfall hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Katherine Oakes

Katherine Oakes is an outdoor travel, sustainability writer and yoga teacher. As an avid hiker, skier, yogi (namaste) and aspiring environmentalist, her best days are spent getting a little dirt under her fingernails and fresh air in her lungs.

3 comments on “White Mountains Waterfalls: 5 Scenic Cascade Hikes

  1. Agreed. The White Mountains have so much to offer. Have you hiked much of it? Thanks for reading!

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