The White Mountain National Forest is a true gem of the Eastern United States. We loved visiting the White Mountains! There is so much to do here! We were so surprised by the amount of waterfalls here. I love a good waterfall, and the White Mountains definitely do not disappoint for waterfall lovers. If you are planning on visiting the White Mountains, make sure to check out some of the waterfalls listed below!
How to get to the White Mountains
The White Mountains are only several hours away from major cities in the Northeast USA. The best way to get to the White Mountains is by car.
Distance from New York City to the White Mountains: 360 miles, 6 hours
Distance from Boston, MA to the White Mountains: 160 miles, 2.5 hours
How to Visit the Waterfalls of the White Mountains
Most of these waterfalls you will need to drive to. Since all of these are located within that White Mountains National Forest, you will need to have a parking pass to park at the trailheads. We actually saw rangers checking people’s cars for the parking pass, so make sure that you get the parking pass to avoid the heavy fee. There are 2 ways to do this.
1. National Parks Annual Pass: This personally is my favorite way and what we used when we visited the White Mountains. The National Parks Annual pass is valid for an entire year and will allow you free entry to any national park, national forest, or federally-owned areas in the United States for an entire year. It’s official name is “America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.” If you are an avid adventurer and like to visit national parks or even national forests in your area, the National Parks Annual Pass can save you so much money! For most folks, it will cost $80 (but remember it gives you unlimited access for an entire year). Many other groups may also qualify for discounted or free annual passes (military, veterans, seniors, or 4th graders). The pass works for the entire car of people, meaning each person in your family doesn’t need one, only 1 per family is needed.
2. USDA National Forest Parking Pass: This option is great if you plan on visiting for only one day or making a quick stop at one of the trailheads. Pick up an envelope at the trailhead. Fill out the information on the envelope, deposit the envelope (and $5) in box at the trailhead, leave the stub in your car on the dash. This parking pass will last you for the entire day.
And now what you’ve been waiting for….
The Best Waterfalls in the White Mountains
1. Glen Ellis Falls (and secret falls)
Glen Ellis Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls that we saw the entire time we were visiting the White Mountains. Glen Ellis Falls is 64 feet tall and is on the Ellis River. This waterfall is easy to get to and is so beautiful. The trailhead is 1 mile south of the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. To get to the Glen Ellis Falls, park at the trailhead and walk through the tunnel that goes under the main road. Follow the path along the river. Soon you will arrive at the top of the waterfall. From the top, it looks so small, it’s hard to believe how different it looks from the bottom! Follow the stairs all the way down to the main viewing area of the waterfall. It is so tall and beautiful. In total, the trail is 0.4 miles round trip and is paved up until the stairs.
If you are feeling super adventurous, you may be able to access a *secret* private waterfall. The river continues to have waterfalls along it, but there is no official trails or markings to them. One of my favorite parts of visiting Glen Ellis Falls is going downstream to one of the other unnamed waterfalls. The waterfall doesn’t have a name that I know of, but it is also very pretty. We sat on a large rock and enjoyed relaxing with our own private waterfall! I can’t explain much, and technically you are not supposed to go off trail, however if you decide to do this, follow the river south and you will find this other unnamed waterfall.
2. Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls is a unique waterfall located along the Kancamagus Highway. There is a short walking path to reach the lower falls and stairs up to view the upper falls. The upper falls and lower falls together drop around 45 feet. The trail to the falls is 0.7 miles roundtrip on a flat gravel trail that follows a beautiful stream.
3. Rocky Gorge Falls
Rocky Gorge Falls is a popular waterfall and scenic area that has been enjoyed by visitors to the area for many years. It located in the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area which is part of the White Mountains National Forest, along the Kancamagus Highway. The waterfall is around 10 feet tall and located on the Swift River. You can take a short walk on a gravel path to access the falls. There is also a footbridge across the Swift River so that you can view the waterfall from the other side.
4. Lower Falls
Lower Falls is also located on the Swift River and is a popular stop for families. Much of the river before and after the falls is the perfect depth for swimming and relaxing. Lower Falls is also located on the Kancamagus Highway. There is a large parking lot and several picnic areas here. To view the falls, you can walk onto large rock beds or take a short bath that leads down to a viewing platform for the falls.
5. Crystal Cascades
Crystal Cascades is a gorgeous waterfall found in the Pinkham Notch area and on the trail to the summit of Mount Washington. But don’t worry, you don’t need to climb Mount Washington to see this waterfall! Crystal Cascades can be found on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. It is around 0.7 miles roundtrip to visit the falls. Park your car at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and follow signs to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. The trail is wide and has a little elevation gain. Close to the falls, the trail crosses a bridge over the Ellis River (the same river that Glen Ellis Falls is on further south). You’ll be able to hear the falls as you approach. In total, the falls is around 100 feet tall, with the upper falls being around 70 feet and the lower falls being almost 30 feet. This waterfall is unique in the way the water literally cascades down the rocks like little steps. It is a very beautiful waterfall and definitely worth visiting if you have the time and ability.
6. Jackson Falls
Jackson Falls is located in the town of Jackson, New Hampshire. Jackson is very close to the road to the top of Mount Washington. Since its right in town, it makes an easy stop to make. The river is quite shallow and would make for a great place to swim and bask in the water in the summer months. There’s a lower and an upper falls technically, but the waterfalls here are wider and run all together.
7. Silver Falls
Silver Falls is located in Crawford Notch State Park. We stopped here after hiking to Mount Willard. Silver Falls has a drop in total of about 250 feet. The waterfall can be seen from the road and there is a small parking lot across the road from the waterfall. Water falls down, flowing over many rock ledges. We visited at the end of summer, so there wasn’t a lot of water flowing down. This waterfall would definitely be very pretty after rainfall or in the spring.
These are the 7 waterfalls that we visited while in the White Mountains, but we hope to visit many more in the future!
Have you visited any of these waterfalls? Did we miss any cool waterfalls in the White Mountains?
Let me know what you think in the comments!
Thanks for Reading!
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