Thompson Falls

Thompson Falls

Estimated Time: 1-1.5 hrs round-trip

Distance: 1.4 miles round-trip

Level: Easy

Thompson Falls makes for a scenic and easy destination in Pinkham Notch that is perfect for a quick afternoon hike. Plus, the swimming hole at the base of the falls is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day!

Parking for this hike is found at the base of Wildcat Ski Area. To reach the trailhead, cross over the bridge by the main lodge and turn left. Look for the signs for “The Way of the Wildcat” trail and “Thompson Falls”. The Way of the Wildcat trail is a short little nature loop with some great informative signs about the history of Pinkham Notch, the plants and animals found here, and the White Mountain National Forest so be sure to stop and read them as you go! About 0.1 miles along you will reach a split. If you are reading the signage, it is best to go to the left first. When you reach the far end of the loop continue straight ahead, following signs to Thompson Falls.

You will cross a small stream and then the old Route 16 (currently an access road for the ski area). Shortly after you will reach the base of the falls. From here, the trail continues up to the right a bit more steeply, crosses over the river and then continues up slightly more before ending at some flat rocks with more pools. If it is a clear day, there will be several nice views of Lion’s Head and Tuckerman Ravine on Mt. Washington. To return, simply retrace your steps.

thompson5thompson4thompson10

Glen Ellis Falls

Glen Ellis Falls

Please note: The below description is based on reaching Glen Ellis Falls from Pinkham Notch Visitor Center via the Lost Pond Trail and returning the same way. The falls can also be accessed from the Glen Ellis Falls parking area or via the longer more challenging Direttissima Trail (also starting at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center).

Estimated Time: 2-3 hours round-tripGE Falls2

Distance: 2.4 miles round-trip

Level: Easy

Directions to the Trailhead

Glen Ellis Falls is a wonderful (and popular) destination in Pinkham Notch and makes for a great addition to a hike to Lost Pond. The falls themselves are 64 feet tall and quite impressive all year round. There are multiple viewing locations to take advantage of. Be cautious on the rocks around the base of the falls as these can be slippery and therefore dangerous.

While you can reach the falls from the nearby parking area (a parking fee is charged here) an arguably nicer option is to start at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and hike out past Lost Pond. The far end of the pond features many small beaver dams and large boulders, which can be fun to explore. After 0.9 miles from the trailhead, you will reach the Wildcat Ridge Trail. Turn right at this junction and continue approximately 0.1 miles to the Ellis River. During the summer and fall this river crossing is very manageable. Use extreme caution, however, during the spring melt and after heavy rains as the water levels will make this crossing dangerous.

After crossing the Ellis River, turn left along the bank. You will climb over a stone wall and here will join the well-maintained path down to the base of the falls. To return to Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, the easiest option is to retrace your steps. For a longer more strenuous route option, use the tunnel to travel under Route 16 to the Glen Ellis Falls parking lot. From here, follow the Glen Boulder Trail 0.4 miles up a steep uphill. At the top of the climb, turn right on the Direttissima Trail, which in 1 mile will take you back to the Visitor Center. Alternatively, you can reverse this loop, starting on the Direttissima Trail and returning on the Lost Pond Trail, which makes for a less steep climb.

Crystal Cascade

Crystal Cascade

Estimated Time: 30 minutes round-trip

Distance: 0.6 miles round-trip

Level: Easy

The walk to Crystal Cascade makes for an excellent choice when you want to get out, stretch your legs and reach a great destination without committing to a longer hike. The walk doesn’t involve much elevation gain, with the exception of one short and moderately steep section just before reaching the falls. The trail also follows the Cutler River most of the way up to the waterfall and there are ample options to get near the water.

To reach Crystal Cascade, park at the AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and take the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, just behind the Visitor Center. The trail is very wide and well maintained. Almost immediately after beginning, the Old Jackson Road branches off to the right. Continue on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. There are a couple of other smaller junctions along the way with ski trails. If you’re looking to extend the hike on the way down, you can go left on the Blanchard Loop Ski Trail and connect with the Old Jackson Road to form a loop back to the Visitor Center.

About 2/3 of the way to the falls, you will cross a bridge which offers nice views of Wildcat Mountain across the Notch. Just after, there is a brief uphill climb. At the top, take the set of stone stairs to the viewing area of Crystal Cascade. During the spring thaw or after heavy rains, the falls flow at such a rate that you can feel the mist from the viewing area. When the water levels are lower you can see the dark rock of a volcanic vent, making this waterfall quite unique! The falls themselves are almost 100 feet tall and well worth the short walk!

Crystal Cascade TH

Giant Falls

Giant Falls

Estimated Time: 2-3 hours round-trip

Distance: 2.4 miles round-trip

Level: Moderate

Directions to the Trailhead

Giant Falls makes for a great half day hike on the seldom used Peabody Brook Trail. The trailhead is located on North Road in Shelburne about 1 mile down the road. Look for the white sign on the left and park on the dirt shoulder opposite. Be sure to not block anyone’s driveway when parking.

The beginning of the Peabody Brook Trail follows a wide flat path. Two or three times other paths branch off, but the white “Trail” signs are fairly obvious and easy to follow. Here the trail closely follows and once crosses the Peabody Brook, a very lovely stream and picturesque stream. About halfway to the falls an overgrown trail to Middle Mountain branches right and the Peabody Brook Trail continues straight ahead. Here the trail gets narrower and then soon climbs moderately with a large cliff on the right side and a steep slope down to the left.

Shortly after the top of the cliff the spur trail to Giant Falls leaves the Peabody Brook Trail on the left and descends slowly for approximately two-tenths of a mile until it rejoins Peabody Brook just before the base of Giant Falls. The entire waterfall is 350 ft tall, but only the bottom 110 ft are visible from the trail. Nevertheless, the view is remarkable and in the spring time would be quite the spectacle!

giant falls

Peboamauk Falls Hike

There are two routes in to Peboamauk Falls. The first is along the Ice Gulch Trail which begins on Randolph Hill Rd. The second is on the old Bog Dam Trail, which begins at the end of Jimtown Rd. The trail is no longer fully maintained but still very much passable as long as you are ok with mud.

Ice Gulch Trail 

Note: This trail description is only for the section of Ice Gulch Trail from Randolph Hill Rd. to Peboamauk Falls. For more information on the Ice Gulch Trail contact the Randolph Mountain Club or the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Estimated Time: 3-4 hrs roundrtip

Distance: 4.25 miles

Level: Moderate

This trail begins on Randolph Hill Rd. at an old farm marked Sky Meadows. You can park on the grass just opposite the farm (although parking in the winter may be challenging). To reach the trailhead, walk on the left side of the farm to the edge of the woods where you will see the trail.

The trail begins by descending slightly, then climbs and falls slightly over the next two miles as it crosses a logging road and three major streams. After two miles, the trail reaches a junction at “The Marked Birch”.

At the junction you will see two signs. One points to the left to the base of Ice Gulch. The other points back to Randolph Hill Rd. Despite the lack of signage, there is another option straight ahead that leads down to Peboamauk Falls. The trail is easy to follow, blazed in orange, and descends steeply for a short bit to the base of Peboamauk Falls.

For the quickest option, return the way you came by climbing back up out of Winters Home (the base of the falls) and continue straight back on the Ice Gulch Trail. If you want a longer option, you can follow the Peboamauk Loop to the top of the falls and then to the base of Ice Gulch.

The marked Birch

Bog Dam Trail

Estimated Time: 2-3 hrs roundtrip

Distance: 3 miles roundtrip

Level: Moderate

Directions to the Trailhead

The Bog Dam Trail is no longer fully maintained, nor is it listed on current maps, but it seems that the bottom portion of the trail is maintained. At the end of Jimtown Rd. turn right and park in the lot on the left hand side just before the gate. In the back corner of the parking lot, you will see the beginning of the trail. After just a couple minutes, the trail meets up with the main path (alternatively you can access this by following the dirt road past the gate and getting on the trail over a berm on the left). Turn left at this junction and follow the trail uphill. It continues uphill, mostly in a straight path for about 1.25 miles. About a 1/4 of the way up, you will pass the Gorham dam far below you on the right. Intermittently you will get lovely views of the brook to your right.

Just before you reach the junction with the Ice Gulch Trail, there is an old, partially broken bridge crossing a small brook. Do not use this bridge, it is no longer safe. Instead, rock hop across the stream.

At the junction you will see two signs. One points almost straight ahead to the base of Ice Gulch. The other points left to Randolph Hill Rd. Despite the lack of signage, there is another option to the right that leads to Peboamauk Falls. The trail is easy to follow, blazed in orange, and descends steeply for a short bit to the base of Peboamauk Falls.

For the quickest option, return the way you came by climbing back up out of Winters Home (the base of the falls) and turn left back onto the Bog Dam Trail. If you want a longer option, you can follow the Peboamauk Loop to the top of the falls and then to the base of Ice Gulch.

icegulch5

The Waterfall Loop

The Waterfall Loop

Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip

Level: Easy

Directions to the Trailhead

The Waterfall Loop is an excellent hike for beginners or anyone looking for a scenic stroll in the woods all year long! In the summertime there are numerous pools that make for wonderful swimming. In the spring the falls will rush with the snow melt from the mountain summits. In the winter the frozen water and snow creates a magical environment, where you can see animal tracks crossing the brook and holes where the flowing water is still visible. And in the fall leaves in the water will add color to the brook bed!

waterfall loop1

Swaterfall loop5tart from the Appalachia trailhead on Rt. 2 in Randolph. There are many trails leaving from this trailhead, but they are all clearly marked. Look for signs for the Fallsway Trail. After you leave the parking lot, there is a short patch of forest followed by the Rail Trail and power lines. After the power lines you will reenter the hardwood forest following the yellow blazed Fallsway Trail and will soon meet up with Snyder Brook. From here the trail stays on the west side of the brook and continues uphill passing by 3 set of waterfalls – Gordon Falls, Salroc Falls, and lastly Tama Falls. As you hike up hill you will pass by many excellent pools and flat rocks perfect for swimming and picnicking! Relax, cool off, and enjoy the mossy banks of Snyder Brook.
waterfall loop4

Just before Tama Falls, the Valley Way Trail briefly joins the Fallsway Trail. Continue to follow signs for the Fallsway Trail/Fallsway Loop and you will soon reach Tama Falls, 0.7 miles from the parking lot. Just above Tama Falls you can cross over Snyder Brook on some flat rocks and head down the other side of the brook via the Brookbank Trail. Enjoy the falls from a different perspective and be sure to check out the very large flat rock about halfway down! At the bottom you will reach the power lines. Here you can either cross back over Snyder Brook to rejoin the Fallsway Trail or look for a small path just to your right that continues downhill to the Rail Trail. If you choose the 2nd option, you will meet the Rail Trail just to the right of a large bridge. Turn left, cross the bridge, and follow the trail back to the parking lot.waterfall loop2