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Hike to these 10 scenic waterfalls in Northern New England

Enjoy the warming weather by hiking to one of Northern New England’s many waterfalls, such as the Falls of Lana near Salisbury, Vermont. Photo by Bethy the VT hiker/

As winter snows melt in Northern New England’s mountains, hundreds of waterfalls throughout the area get ready to put on a spectacular show. Although the region’s cascades tend to be most dramatic from April to mid-June, snowy winters and summer storms help keep the waters flowing into August and beyond.

Here are 10 of Northern New England’s prettiest waterfalls you can hike to for a perfect warm-weather adventure.

Map of 10 Northern New England waterfalls.

Map by Cynthia Geskes

Jump to: Maine | New Hampshire | Vermont


1. Jewell Falls, Portland

Jewell Falls, Portland.

In Portland, a short trek to Jewell Falls can make you forget that you’re within an urban area. Photo by Bailey O’Brien

One of Portland’s best-kept secrets sits within the 85-acre Fore River Sanctuary just a few miles from downtown. A short hike leads through the woods to Jewell Falls, named in honor of Tom Jewell, co-founder of the nonprofit Portland Trails. The water flows over the rocks in a series of horsetails and streams.

After visiting the falls, wander the sanctuary’s 5.6-mile trail network, which winds through forest, grassy lowlands, and a saltwater marsh with excellent bird watching.

For a longer trek, start at the trailhead where Congress and Frost streets intersect, and follow an old canal towpath into the sanctuary.

Round-trip: About 1 mile from the trailhead at Rowe Avenue.

Level: Easy.

You may also like: 10 relaxing cruise tours on Northern New England’s waterways

2. Katahdin Stream Falls, Millinocket

Katahdin Stream Falls, Millinocket.

In Baxter State Park, the winding path to Katahdin Stream Falls is part of the Appalachian Trail. Photo by Ross Knowlton Nature Photography/Alamy Stock Photo

This short, scenic hike along the Hunt Trail in Baxter State Park leads to Katahdin Stream Falls, a beautiful, multitiered cascade that tumbles through a verdant gorge at the base of Mount Katahdin.

Paper birch trees and mossy granite boulders line the path—part of the 2,198-mile Appalachian Trail—which winds through the forest before opening to reveal the sparkling waters of Katahdin Stream. After about a mile, a wooden footbridge crosses the stream and the falls soon come into view.

Round-trip: 2.2 miles from the Katahdin Stream Campground.

Level: Easy (to the falls, then it gets steeper).

You may also like: 5 can’t-miss national treasures in New England

3. Little Wilson Falls, Elliotsville

Little Wilson Falls, Elliotsville.

Near Elliotsville, Little Wilson Falls tumbles down a series of smooth, slate steps. The pool at its base is deep enough for swimming. Photo by Greg Parsons

One of Maine’s tallest waterfalls, 3-tiered Little Wilson Falls surges through an imposing gorge before tumbling down a series of smooth, slate steps. The hike to the falls follows Little Wilson Stream, arriving first at the 18-foot lower falls and a fantastic pool that’s deep enough for swimming.

Another third of a mile leads to the middle falls, which feed additional swimming holes, making this entire stretch a favorite spot for locals. For the real spectacle, continue through the forest for about a mile to the upper falls—a long, thin horsetail that drops nearly 50 feet over a steep, bedrock cliff.

Round-trip: 2.4 miles from the lot on Little Wilson Falls Road.

Level: Moderate.

You may also like: 7 New England wildlife refuges with gorgeous water views

4. Dunn Falls, Andover

Dunn Falls, Andover.

The path to Dunn Falls branches off from the Appalachian Trail. Dogs are permitted if they are leashed. Photo by Greg Parsons

A series of cascades and horsetails burble between the rocks as you approach Dunn Falls’ lower falls, which plunge nearly 80 feet between towering granite walls. Set out along the Appalachian Trail to the blue-blazed Cascade Trail, which follows the West Branch of the Ellis River.

Continue along the Cascade Trail for another quarter mile to the equally lovely upper falls and 2 pools perfect for a refreshing dip. A smattering of smaller, unnamed falls rounds out the trip.

Round-trip: 2.5 miles from the lot on Andover Road.

Level: Moderate.

You may also like: 6 places in Northern New England to reconnect with nature

New Hampshire

5. Arethusa Falls, Hart’s Location

Arethusa Falls, Hart's Location.

In Crawford Notch State Park, Arethusa Falls is beautiful during foliage season. It’s also popular with ice climbers. Photo by Pat & Chuck Blackley/Alamy Stock Photo

This popular hike in Crawford Notch State Park treats you to 3 waterfalls—Bemis Brook, Coliseum, and Arethusa—the last of which is considered New England’s tallest single-drop waterfall. Follow the Bemis Brook Trail’s yellow blazes to Fawn Pool, where you can dip your toes in the cool mountain water for a spell before continuing on to Coliseum Falls.

From there, the rugged trail climbs steeply until it meets the blue-blazed Arethusa Trail, which will have you traipsing through native hardwood forest for another half mile to the main event: Arethusa Falls, a graceful, nearly 200-foot tall cataract that spills spectacularly over a granite cliff.

Round-trip: 3 miles from the Arethusa Falls trailhead off US 302. Note: $5 recreation fee; the parking area has a drop box.

Level: Moderate to strenuous.

You may also like: 6 drives with stunning views in Northern New England

6. Bridal Veil Falls, Franconia

Bridal Veil Falls, Franconia.

In White Mountain National Forest, photographers love how water flowing over Bridal Veil Falls resembles the lacy wedding garment. Photo by Paul Mozell/Alamy Stock Photo

One of the most photographed waterfalls in White Mountain National Forest, Bridal Veil Falls takes its name from its distinctive shape. Don’t be daunted by the length of this hike—the trail’s beautiful scenery and gentle grade make the miles pass quickly.

After about a mile, you’ll get your first glimpse of Coppermine Brook, which ripples alongside the trail for the remainder of the hike. A wooden bridge crosses the stream a short distance from the base of the falls, a bit past the 2-mile mark. Spend some time exploring the area—the granite ledges surrounding the falls are great picnic spots.

Round-trip: 5 miles from the Coppermine Trail trailhead on Coppermine Road off SR 116.

Level: Easy.

You may also like: 9 stellar scenic byways in Northern New England

7. Garfield Falls, Pittsburg

Garfield Falls, Pittsburg.

Watch for logging trucks on the way to remote Garfield Falls, whose lower falls are surrounded by massive rock outcroppings. Photo by VIKVAD/Alamy Stock Photo

Head into the remote wilderness of the Great Northern Woods to find Garfield Falls on the East Branch of the Dead Diamond River. From US 3, follow Magalloway Road, a well-traveled dirt road, for 13 miles deep into Pittsburg’s logging territory.

From the trailhead, a short path leads through the woods and down a set of wooden steps to the lower falls—a 40-foot cascade surrounded by massive rock outcroppings. Follow the river up and around the rocks to the upper falls, where multiple pools are popular for swimming during the warm summer months.

Round-trip: 1 mile from the trailhead on Magalloway Road.

Level: Moderate.

You may also like: 10 stunning lakes in Northern New England


8. Bartlett Falls, Bristol

Bartlett Falls, Bristol.

Just outside of Bristol, Bartlett Falls spills 15 feet over a ledge of bedrock into a huge pool along the New Haven River. Photo by Greg Parsons

Few places make a more perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day than Bartlett Falls, which spills 15 feet over a ledge of bedrock into an enormous swimming hole. Other ledges surrounding the pool are good places for jumping into the sparkling New Haven River below.

The waterfalls’ easy access from adjacent Lincoln Road makes it a popular warm-weather destination for locals and visitors. Pack a picnic and plan to spend a few hours swimming and exploring. Afterward, swing by the Village Creeme Stand in Bristol for a quintessential Vermont summer treat.

Round-trip: Depends on the Lincoln Road parking situation.

Level: Easy.

You may also like: 6 New England lighthouses where you can spend the night

9. Falls of Lana, Salisbury

Falls of Lana, Salisbury.

Near Salisbury, the Falls of Lana offer swimming holes at 2 levels. The upper pool gets a lot of sun; the lower one is more shaded. Photo by Greg Parsons

Tucked away in the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area, the Falls of Lana is a multitiered cascade with swimming holes and a beautiful stream. From its parking area off State Route 53, the Silver Lake Trail follows an old birch- and hemlock-lined carriage road.

Just beyond the large pipe that delivers water from Silver Lake to a nearby hydroelectric plant, a rugged side trail surrounded by rock walls leads down to Sucker Brook, where the falls descend in a configuration of horsetails and streams. For a longer hike, continue for another mile to Silver Lake, which is circled by a 2.5-mile trail.

Round-trip: 1 mile from the lot off SR 53.

Level: Moderate.

You may also like: 5 waterfront New England spots for a romantic winter weekend

10. Moss Glen Falls, Stowe

Moss Glen Falls, Stowe.

With a 125-foot drop, Moss Glen Falls near Stowe is Vermont’s tallest. Photo by Greg Parsons

A series of boardwalks leads through lush, riparian forest to Moss Glen Falls, Vermont’s tallest waterfall. This is prime beaver habitat, but sightings are rare, even though numerous fallen trees and chewed stumps provide ample evidence of the flat-tailed rodents.

After about a quarter mile, a fork in the trail leads to 2 viewpoints of the magnificent, 125-foot cataract. The right fork follows Moss Glen Brook to the falls’ base, where the lower falls tumble over a series of granite steps. The left fork climbs to a precipitous overlook, where the upper falls rush through a rocky gorge.

Round-trip: 0.6 miles from the lot on Moss Glen Falls Road.

Level: Easy.

New York–based journalist Gina DeCaprio Vercesi writes about food, drink, and travel with an emphasis on history and conservation.

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