Chasing waterfalls in New England
Spring is finally here, which means the snow in the mountains is melting and tumbling over rock ledges into the streams and rivers below. And it looks like a great year for the show.
“I’m completely stoked for this season,” says Kate Watson, coauthor of the “New England Waterfalls” book and website, www.newenglandwaterfalls.com. “The quantity of snow we have gotten up north will lead to some great runoff.”
The party begins when the snow starts to melt toward the end of April — and things really get gushing throughout May.
“I like to get out there in the April/May time frame,” says Watson. “But it can be muddy so be prepared to get dirty.”
It’s hard to pick a favorite waterfall. Each is loved for different reasons. “I grew up in a remote area loving the wilderness, so for me it is about the hike, the waterfall itself, and the serenity of the area,” says Watson.
Two of her favorites, though? Arethusa Falls in New Hampshire and Angel Falls in Maine. “What I like about Angel and Arethusa is that they are not roadside, but they are not so difficult that the average physically fit person couldn’t do them,” she says. “They are both large waterfalls and quite impressive as you approach the base.” And, she adds, “While they are not remote, if you visit on weekdays or early/late in the season, you are less likely to be met with the quantity of visitors these falls tend to get.”
Here are other spots to watch Mother Nature gush about spring.
There are about a dozen waterfalls in a square mile in the Berkshires’ Savoy Mountain State Forest, but Tannery Falls, tucked in the woods, is the star attraction — particularly the upper 35 feet, which tumble into a thunderous “curtain of whitewater,” says Watson. There are trails to explore and you’ll discover perfect picnicking rocks, too. berkshires.org/berkshire-waterfalls/waterfall-tannery-brook/
Where to stay
From waterfalls to watercolors, The Porches Inn in North Adams is one of the closest spots to the falls and a lovely location across from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Double room rates begin at $194 per night, continental breakfast included. www.porches.com.
MOUNT WASHINGTON VALLEY, NEW HAMPSHIRE
This region is dotted with many impressive, cascading waterfalls — it’s as though the water tumbles from the heavens. The falls typically begin flowing at the end of April and they’re really rushing throughout May, says Marti Mayne, public relations manager for the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. Favorites include Jackson Falls, thanks, in part, to being highly accessible — you can even walk to the falls for a picnic, a half-mile up Carter Notch Road from the center of Jackson Village. www.mtwashingtonvalley.org
One of Watson’s favorites, Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch State Park, cascade from about 160 feet, and it’s that height that makes them spectacular. They’re also especially powerful during the spring snow meltdown — and that is when you want to visit, before they slowly go down to a trickle. Hike the 3-mile, well-marked trail loop. www.mtwashingtonvalley.org
Where to stay
Book the Waterfall Tour package at the Snowvillage Inn in Eaton Center. The two-night package includes picnic lunch, self-directed waterfall guide, three-course dinner for two, and country breakfast. Two-night package begins at $469. www.snowvillageinn.com
Another Watson favorite: Angel Falls in the White Mountains. There’s a perfect picnic perch near these falls that tumble 90 feet, and you can hike the quick trail that’s less than a mile from the upper parking area. You’ll discover a second waterfall, Coos Canyon here, too. www.rangeley-maine.com/
Moxie Falls, in Moxie Gore Plantation near a whitewater rafting center, The Forks, is the highest waterfall in Maine — a 90-foot-plus drop that comes out of Lake Moxie and flows into the Kennebec River. Park in the lot uphill and hike down the maintained path with good viewing decks. www.kennebecvalley.org/story/moxie-falls
Where to stay
Falls Rafting Co. operates a base facility with a campground. Rates are $20 per person for a cabin tent, $85 for a king room, bunk rooms are $30 per person, kids 12 and under are half price with parents staying in same room. Magic Falls will also pack a lunch for picnics overlooking the falls. Opens May 10. www.magicfalls.com.
BUTTERMILK FALLS, VERMONT
These stunning falls in Southern Vermont are a splash from Okemo Mountain Resort. The lower falls rise 20 feet and the upper falls about 15 feet, both flowing into one of Vermont’s best swimming holes. And the best part — you’ll find an easy trail that leads you right down to all the action, just north of Ludlow on Buttermilk Falls Road. www.vermontriverconservancy.org
Where to stay
Jackson Gore Inn is a quick walk or drive from Buttermilk Falls — the road is located directly across the street. The inn’s Coleman Brook Tavern is good spot for pre- and post-waterfall hikes. Double room rates begin at $209 per night. www.okemo.com/lodging/jackson-gore-village/