The white mountains feature some of the best waterfalls!
Within a quick drive or even a hike of our base area are a tons of waterfalls.
Three waterfalls are worthy of attention in Pinkham Notch: Glen Ellis Falls, and Crystal Cascade, both drops of the Ellis River, and Thompson Falls, a scarcely visited sequence of cascades on Thompson Brook, a mountain stream that flows down the west side of Wildcat Mountain.
The lowest cascade of Thompson Falls crashes over an overhanging rock ledge that takes on the shape of a gigantic clam. The clam is roughly 30 feet wide, but water only flows over a portion of that. Below, the waters churn slowly around in an inviting, although very chilly, swimming pool. With some careful footing and a willingness to get wet, it is certainly possible to find a position behind the falling water on the rocks below the overhanging clam-shaped ledge.
Additional cascades can be found upstream, but they lack the bold personality of the lower cascade. There is one waterfall above the main attraction that is worth your while. This 20-foot plunge splashes into a deep and very dark pool below and will certainly make the additional hike all the more gratifying. The gorge surrounding this plunge is stunning but it does prevent the necessary lighting for optimal photographs for most of the day. The upper falls and cascades do offer the advanced possibility of exploring in solitude. However, you are likely to enjoy all of the falls at Thompson Falls entirely to yourself, as waterfall lovers are often caught focusing on the other waterfalls in Pinkham Notch.
Access: Park at Wildcat Mountain & take the Way of the Wildcat Trail to Thompson Falls Trail. The trail head is right across the bridge to the left of the Wildcat Base Lodge.
Glen Ellis Falls
The most popular waterfall of the Pinkham Notch area is the 64-foot plunge known as Glen Ellis Falls. With a fine spray of water throughout the warmer months, this waterfall attracts thousands of vacationers from all over.
This waterfall is quite distinctive, with its exceptionally deep green pool and how the left-angle at which the water plunges. It is too bad that the waterfall is off-limits to swimming, as this would be one of the more enjoyable swimming holes in the state.
Just about anyone that can walk down stairs can visit this waterfall. The trail is short and well worth it. Just do not expect to be alone at this waterfall.
Access: Located just minutes south along Route 16. A trail head parking area is well marked.
Crystal Cascade is an often overlooked waterfall in Pinkham Notch. Too many hikers get caught up tackling Mount Washington to take a short break off the Tuckerman's Ravine Trail to view Crystal Cascade. As a result, the falls are visited by only a fraction of the trail's hikers. Enough traffic is generated, however, for the Forest Service to post signs prohibiting off-trail hiking to prevent erosion.
Directly ahead of a rock-wall outlook, Crystal Cascade drops a total of 100 feet in two uneven segments that are split by a platform with a shallow dark pool. The upper segment is a horsetail of approximately 70 feet in height, and the lower section is a 30-foot tall block.
Whether you are visiting, dining, or staying the night at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or driving along NH 16, stop and give Crystal Cascade a few moments of your time. Your goal of hiking Washington should not be to summit as quickly as possible, but rather to enjoy the entire journey up this magnificent mountain.
Access: Park at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center parking area. Follow the Tuckerman Ravine Trail (which leaves from behind the Visitor Center) until you see the steps on your right leading to the overlook for Crystal Cascade