The White Mountains region of New Hampshire is full of amazing waterfalls and hikes. The best waterfalls in New Hampshire are perfect for visiting all year, even in the winter.
While New Hampshire is known for its fall foliage, these hikes are ones you can do in any season to see some of the best New England waterfalls. You may need snowshoes or microspikes for winter hiking in New Hampshire, but the view at the end is worth the cold hike.
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What to Bring on your New Hampshire Waterfall Hikes
No matter the time of year, water is always a must when hiking. Some of these hikes are easy, but it is still always a good idea to take some water with you. How much water you take will depend on the weather and your individual needs.
None of these waterfall hikes are difficult, so regular hiking attire will work for these. You do not need to bring any special equipment unless you are hiking in winter.
In the winter, you will want to check the trail conditions to know what to bring. If there is fresh snow, snowshoes are your best bet for these hikes.
We visited in March, and the trails were extremely icy. It snowed 10 inches a few days before we arrived, but then the temperatures heated up. Because it still got below freezing at night, we needed micro-spikes to complete these hikes.
We used these crampons for our hikes and found that we had no difficulty on the ice at all (even as Floridians!). Others on some of the trails did not have micro-spikes and were slipping down the trails. We said multiple times that they were the only way we were able to do the hikes.
You may also want hiking poles for Champney Falls especially. We did not use them or need them, but if you have them, they may be helpful.
Best Waterfalls in New Hampshire
While New Hampshire has tons of waterfalls throughout the state, we found that these four were perfect for year-round hikes. Frozen in the winter, gushing in the spring, perfect escapes for the summer, and colorful in the fall, you can’t go wrong.
Location: West of Conway, New Hampshire
Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation Change: 682 feet
The trail is about 3.1 miles long (my Garmin said 3.5 total) with a 682-foot elevation gain. The gain all comes on the way out with the way back being all downhill. This one is considered a moderate hike.
The parking lot is located just off of the Kancamagus Highway. It is located about 10 miles west of Conway, New Hampshire.
There is a $5 fee to hike to Champney Falls purchased through Recreation.gov. You can pay for it by using the QR code on the sign in the parking lot or pay ahead of time for a day pass here.
Champney Falls in winter is beautiful as it is frozen and popular with ice climbers. We visited after it had started to melt but also had large portions still frozen.
If you are hiking in the middle of winter, the brooks are frozen over and you can walk straight from the parking lot to the waterfall without having to do any water crossings.
Because we visited at the end of winter and the start of spring, the ice and snow had melted off of the creek and it was gushing with the melting snow. We crossed over a lot of tiny streams due to melting snow, but we had to do three larger crossings.
The first water crossing comes up right at the start of the hike where you cross over Twin Brook. This one is relatively easy with rocks you can step across. The water was higher than normal with the melting snow, but it was still an easy crossing.
The next two crossings are over Champney Brook. They are more difficult, so take time to look around for your best path across. Waterproof shoes are a huge help on this trail as I ended up in a few inches of water several times.
For the second crossing, we found an easier route just downstream from where the trail leads. For the third crossing, my husband and I chose different routes but both made it across fine. To me, the second crossing was the most difficult of the three to avoid the water.
Once you arrive at Champney Falls, you can enjoy the view from the trail or cross over to get closer to the waterfalls.
When we visited in March, the waterfall was flowing strongly with huge portions of the waterfall still frozen. We were able to do one more crossing of Champney Brook to get over to the other side of the falls where it was still pretty frozen.
You can still get over to that side in the other seasons as well when the water is low enough. In the fall, this one is pretty with the fall colors but does not have nearly as much water flowing. In the spring and after a good rain, it is a much more heavy flow.
Overall, this was our favorite of the waterfalls in New Hampshire we got to experience. While it is the most difficult of these hikes, I would highly recommend it, especially in winter when it is frozen.
Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch
Location: Lincoln, New Hampshire in Franconia Notch State Park
Distance: 2 mile loop
Elevation Change: 488 feet
Hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park near Lincoln, New Hampshire, was another favorite. This hike is different in the winter and spring than it is other times of the year.
Flume Gorge in the fall is a popular spot for the fall colors and the boardwalk into the gorge. In the summer it is also a popular trail. However, in the winter and part of the spring, the gorge is closed down.
You can still complete the loop hike, but the boardwalk into the gorge is mostly removed in winter. Only experienced ice climbers are allowed into the gorge.
Avalanche Falls in Flume Gorge in the winter is still beautiful from the walkway. You can get back to the start of the gorge and can still enjoy the frozen Avalanche Falls from there. The boardwalk is closed off and then the removed portions are piled up at the end.
In April and May each year, the hike closes for about a month so that the boardwalk can be put back in and so they can do maintenance on the trail. You can see these dates each year on the Flume Gorge website.
Another perk of this hiking trail is getting to see the Flume Covered Bridge on the hike. This stunning covered bridge is a popular photo spot, especially in the fall. It was photo-worthy in the winter as well with the snow all around it.
This trail required micro-spikes at the end of the winter although snowshoes would be better in heavy snow. It was extremely icy, and we saw a large group slipping and sliding their way down the trail in regular shoes.
There is a fee for this hike, but we did not have to pay it in the winter. The parking lot was huge, but it was empty in March. When the boardwalk is open, the fee is $18 per person for ages 13+ and $16 for ages 6 – 12. Children 5 and under are free.
If you visit in the fall, expect crowds and a busy parking lot. Try to visit on weekdays or closer to when it opens at 9 a.m. for the best chance of getting in without the crowds.
Location: North Conway, New Hampshire
Distance: 1.3 miles
Elevation Change: 118 feet
This was the first of our waterfall hikes in New Hampshire, and it did not disappoint. This was also the most crowded of the hikes in winter, but even then it was less than 10 others.
This hike is popular year-round and a popular spot in the summer to picnic and explore. Expect to find people here no matter when you go.
This is also one of the easiest hikes with very little elevation gain. The part of the trail near the falls was icy in March, so we did need our micro-spikes. The rest of the trail would have been okay without them, but you will want to check conditions if hiking in the winter.
To get to Diana’s Baths, take an easy and fairly flat 0.6-mile hike. You do have to pay for the same pass as Champney Falls ($5 for a day pass) and can pay using the QR code on the sign in the parking lot. You can also pay ahead of time here.
If you do both Diana’s Baths and Champney Falls on the same day, you can use the same pass for both. It is good for the day for the White Mountain National Forest hikes.
This trail is considered accessible, but you may want all-terrain tires. In the winter, it is not accessible due to the snow and ice. The trail is relatively flat to the bottom of the falls, but it does get much steeper if you continue up from there.
We hiked to the falls and saw the site of the old sawmill where we sat to enjoy a snack. We continued up the trail from there for a while to see more of the falls and Lucy Brook.
In the winter, the falls are mostly frozen. When we visited at the end of winter, they were still partially frozen but also flowing well thanks to the melting snow.
Visit in the spring to see the strongest flow for the waterfall. As the flow slows down going into summer, it becomes a popular spot to wade in the water, climb on the rocks and picnic at the picnic tables in the area. The flow is much lower in the fall, but the fall colors more than make up for it.
Location: Lincoln, New Hampshire in Franconia Notch State Park
Distance: 0.6 miles
Elevation Change: 101 feet
This is the easiest of the hikes on this list both in terms of the distance and the elevation. There are longer trails in the area, but if you are just going to the Basin and back, it is a short and easy hike.
This hike is considered accessible, and there is an accessible viewing platform. Signs indicate where to go for this, but it is not accessible when there is snow and ice on the trail.
Because this is a short hike, it is popular in the busier seasons for New Hampshire including in the summer and fall. Located just off of I-93, the ease of access to this trail from other popular spots make it a busier hike.
There are areas where you can do some wading and enjoy a picnic at the picnic tables. However, swimming in the Basin is not allowed.
The Basin is known for being the deepest pothole in the White Mountains. Water gushes into it, swirls around, and then continues on its way down the stream.
The trail does split partway down. You can continue straight to the accessible viewing platform or continue down to the Basin. Taking the path down to the Basin gives you views of a waterfall as you cross the bridge and then of the water cascading down the stream as it twists and turns.
Covered in the snow, it was beautiful. Late spring and summer mean you can enjoy wading in the water closer to the parking lot. Fall brings the crowds but also the beautiful colors along the Pemigewasset River to enjoy on the hike.
Other New Hampshire Waterfalls to See
If you are looking for additional waterfalls to see in New Hampshire, here are some other good options. I’ve included links to more info on these hikes since we only got to do a couple of them on our trip due to time.
Glen Ellis Falls: This one is an easy out and back that is less than half a mile round trip.
Flume Cascade & Silver Cascade: These waterfalls are easy to see from the road and a short walk from parking within Crawford Notch State Park. You can also see the nearby Elephant Rock while you are here.
Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the summit of Mount Washington: This one is not a hike in the winter as the frozen trail becomes extremely difficult and more dangerous. It becomes mountaineering rather than hiking. However, it is generally the easiest hike to the top of Mount Washington and is more popular in the summer. The description of the view from the top made us want to go back to try this one in the summer one time.
Falling Waters Trail: Find several waterfalls on the hike to the top of Little Haystack Mountain in Franconia Notch State Park.
Ripley Falls Trail: This one-mile hike is another frozen waterfall to see in winter or a great hike the rest of the year.
Arethusa Falls: With a nearly 800-foot elevation change on the trail and at 2.8 miles round trip, Arethusa Falls is a moderately challenging hike.
Sabbaday Falls: Enjoy an easy and short hike on this popular waterfall hike.
Crystal Cascades: This is another easy and short hike, and it is also good for snowshoeing in the winter.
Lower Falls: Located in the White Mountain National Forest, Lower Falls is a popular summer stop on the Kancamagus Highway. Perfect for swimming and a picnic lunch, families love this waterfall for swimming.
Nancy Cascades: One of the longer hikes on this list at 4.9 miles, Nancy Cascades is a moderately challenging hike with 1,500 feet of elevation change.
Beaver Brook Falls: A super short hike leads to a picnic area and several walking trails. This one is perfect for families looking for an outdoor space to relax with a view.
Where to Stay in the White Mountains
We stayed in a few places in the White Mountains on our trip. The White Mountains are perfect as part of a weekend getaway in New Hampshire or as part of a longer New England road trip.
Our favorite place to stay was at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. This charming inn in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, is perfect as a base to explore the White Mountains and perfect for couples for a romantic getaway. The food is also delicious in their restaurant, especially after a day of hiking. You can find current rates and availability on Agoda here or on Booking here.
We also loved staying at The Wentworth Inn in Jackson, New Hampshire. Jackson is close to all of these hikes and has its own covered bridge just down the street from the inn. This inn is much larger than Adair and has a delicious restaurant of its own. You can find current rates and availability on Agoda here and on Booking here.
For standard hotels, we stayed in the Holiday Inn Express in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and the Residence Inn by Marriott North Conway. You can find prices and availability for the Residence Inn on Agoda here and on Booking here. You can find prices and availability for the Holiday Inn Express on Agoda here and on Booking here.
Other New Hampshire Travel Guides
Visiting the best waterfalls in New Hampshire is a must on any New Hampshire trip. If you are looking for places to go for a weekend getaway, check out our New Hampshire weekend itinerary which includes some of these hikes.
Staying in the White Mountains doesn’t mean you can’t explore other parts of New Hampshire. You can easily take a day trip to Portsmouth to experience another side of New Hampshire on your trip.
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