THE CASCADE


Melrose, Massachusetts



RATING: 1.5 / 5.0 stars (Fair) The Cascade, Melrose, Massachusetts
(see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Massachusetts
COUNTY: Middlesex
TOWN: Melrose
PARK: Middlesex Fells Reservation
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No
TYPE: Horsetails and plunges
HEIGHT: 40-foot total drop; tallest is 16 feet
WATER SOURCE: Shilly Shally Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Very low
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.15 mile one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy
HIKING TIME: 5 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 25 feet, down 10 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: Only worth visiting after significant rainstorms
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: 2004: Page 41, D-21 (the falls are not marked on the MA atlas)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Free
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: Cascade Falls
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 42.443737, -71.074404
GPS-WATERFALL: 42.445167, -71.076167
COMPASS: 60° excluding declination (the falls face east)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included within the appendix of the guidebook
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THE FALLS

The Cascade, also called Cascade Falls, is a 40-foot high plethora of horsetails of various shapes and sizes. The tallest drop is 16 feet off a giant wall of rock, almost basalt-tower like in appearance. A plunge of about 10-feet near the base of the structure is also noteworthy. There are trees and rock debris spread between some of the segments of horsetails, so you will find it difficult to frame a view or photograph of the entire falls from one vantage point.

This is one of the closest natural waterfalls to the city of Boston. In fact, I'd guess that probably a few hundred thousand people are within a 3 mile walking distance of the falls. Considering this urban environment, you'll be surprised to hear that this place relatively lightly visited. The falls really only shine after a strong rainstorm (think two plus inches plus in a 24 hour period). Timing is everything here; if you visit after a dry spell, you'll certainly find a very dry waterfall. I suspect that the falls are just a trickle or less on 90% of the days of the year.

TRAIL INFORMATION

From the parking area, head straight into the woods onto the Cross Fells Trail, crossing a small creek that currently has a small wooden bridge over it. Go only 50 feet and fork right onto the Cascade Trail, which is blazed white. Follow this trail for about 750 feet and you'll reach a point that is just above the base of the falls. There are additional views on the other side of the river that may be worthwhile if you are comfortable scrambling over to there. The best way to obtain those views is to head downstream and carefully cross the stream.

DIRECTIONS

From the junction of I-93 and I-95 in Reading, take I-93 south to exit 35 (take note that there is no exit 35 when heading on I-93 north from Boston). At the end of the off-ramp, take a left onto Fallon Rd. Immediately pass under I-93 and in less than 0.1 mile you will reach a T-junction. Take a right onto North Border Rd. Drive 0.4 mile on North Border Rd you will reach an intersection with MA 28. Go straight through the intersection onto South St. Over the next 0.9 mile, South St will automatically convert into Pond St as you pass by the Stone Zoo on your right. After you have driven the 0.9 mile from the MA 28 intersection, take a left to continue on Pond St at a intersection that looks more like a traffic circle. Continue on Pond St an additional 0.3 mile beyond this left turn and take a right onto Fellsway East. Follow Fellsway East for 0.3 mile and bear left onto Washington St. Follow Washington St. for 0.7 mile and take a right onto Goodyear Ave, a steep road that you need to be careful turning onto if you have a low-clearance vehicle. Follow Goodyear Ave for 200 feet and park at the end the street on the right. Parking here is limited to 2 hours except for Sundays and Holidays.

UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION

NONE NOTED.

If you know of any updates to this waterfall, or notice any errors either on this website and/or within the New England Waterfalls guidebook, please send me an email at gparsons66@hotmail.com or leave a Facebook comment at the bottom of this page. Updates to all of the waterfalls in the latest edition of the guidebook can always be found here: book updates

OPTIONAL HIKES

None noted.

PHOTOGRAPHS

The Cascade, Melrose, Massachusetts
The Cascade, Melrose, Massachusetts

The Cascade, Melrose, Massachusetts
The Cascade, Melrose, Massachusetts

The Cascade, Melrose, Massachusetts
a view of the falls from downstream before spring foliage has grown in

The Cascade, Melrose, Massachusetts
the final drop at the bottom of the falls

The Cascade, Melrose, Massachusetts
trail sign

INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?

Our 376-page New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition guidebook contains detailed information on over 400 waterfalls throughout New England. Click on the image below to read reviews and/or purchase the guidebook on Amazon.com.



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TIPS FOR VISITING WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES

Here are some tips to help ensure that your trip to New England's waterfalls and swimming holes will be a safe and enjoyable one:
  • DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS - When you visit waterfalls, you should consider bringing all of the following: (a) bug spray; (b) food/snacks; (c) water/sports drinks; (d) camera/smart-phone; (e) guidebook/trail map; (f) daypack/backpack; and (g) hiking shoes, hiking boots or watershoes. A full day hiking packing list can be found here.
  • CONSIDER BUYING WATER SHOES - You won't see too many people using them, but watershoes are fantastic pieces of equipment that can make your trip to waterfalls and swimming holes safer and more enjoyable. Merrill and Keen make some fantastic watershoes (here are some great ones from Merrill: womens / mens).
  • LEAVE NO TRACE - When you visit waterfalls and swimming holes, you'll often see some trash and sometimes you'll even find clothing left behind by others. It's really, really sad, and it irks the heck out of us. Won't you consider carrying out some of trash and clothing left by others when you leave? That would leave the spot more beautiful for the next person. Bring a trash bag and be a hero!
  • PRIVATE PROPERTY - Many waterfalls and swimming holes are located on private property and so we are truly fortunate that many landowners allow us to enjoy them. If you want to ensure that they stay open to the public, please do your best to leave no trace. If you see a sign that says 'Private Property', turn around and find another waterfall to visit or a different place to swim.
  • BRING A DSLR CAMERA AND TRIPOD WITH YOU - If you want to take high-quality photographs of waterfalls, your smart-phone just won't cut it. Get a DSLR camera, a tripod, and learn to master the art of waterfall photography.
  • SCOUT FIRST, SWIM SECOND - Never enter a swimming hole without first scouting it, even if you see somebody else swimming in it. Stop and access the risks based upon the depth of water, the power of the current, evidence of slippery rocks, and other safety factors.
  • CLIFF JUMPING - Cliff jumping is dangerous. Like, seriously dangerous. Understand the risks before you partake in this activity. Many have died from doing this in New England. Here is a list of all known deaths at waterfalls and swimming holes in New England.
  • PLEASE DON'T BUILD ROCK CAIRNS - Please do not build new rock cairns at waterfalls or swimming holes. Cairns are a strong reminder of human presence, and don't we all want to see waterfalls in their natural state and glory? Photographers get particularly annoyed at seeing cairns, so please resist the urge to build them.
  • DON'T RELY ON YOUR GPS TO GET YOU TO THE TRAILHEAD - Waterfalls don't have addresses, so relying on your GPS to get you to a trailhead is great way to get yourself lost. You need a guidebook, a road atlas, and/or a hiking map to visit the vast majority of waterfalls in New England. Also keep in mind that waterfalls are often located in wild areas, where smart-phone map apps and car GPS units may not work at all.
  • WATERFALLS IN SPRING - The best time to visit waterfalls is generally in the spring during the annual snowmelt (which is April to June). However, most waterfalls will often look great for several days after a significant rain storm.
  • HELP KEEP THE ULTRA-SECRET SWIMMING HOLES A SECRET (FOREVER) - If you find some ultra-secret swimming holes, please do your best to keep them a secret. Do not post their locations online or wildly share directions or photos with others. All of the swimming holes that are included in the guidebook and online through this website are the well-known swimming spots. There are many more holes that are much further off the beaten path, but they deserve a chance to stay wild and pristine.
  • DON'T SCRAMBLE UP WATERFALLS - So many people been seriously injured and killed in the waterfalls of New England. Many of these folks got too close to a waterfall and slipped and fell. Don't become a statistic: stay far back from the edge.
  • WEAR TRACTION IF YOU VISIT WATERFALLS IN WINTER - Visiting waterfalls in winter can be rewarding, but there is often a higher element of danger. You may need crampons, snowshoes, and/or some other form of traction (like Microspikes) in order to safely hike to waterfalls in winter.
  • SUPPORT NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS THAT CONSERVE WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES - There are some organizations in New England that work diligently to conserve and maintain waterfalls and swimming holes. Please consider supporting these organizations, either with their trail maintenance projects or with monetary donations. Here are three excellent organizations engaged in this extremely important mission: the Trustees of Reservations, the Vermont River Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy.

HELPFUL LINKS

Here are some helpful links to help you explore and enjoy more waterfalls and hikes throughout New England:
  • Waterfalls of Connecticut = link
  • Waterfalls of Maine = link
  • Waterfalls of Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls of New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls of Rhode Island = link
  • Waterfalls of Vermont = link
  • Best Waterfalls in New England = link
  • Best Swimming Holes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Family-Friendly Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Waterfalls Near Boston, Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls Near Lincoln, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near North Conway, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near Stowe, Vermont = link
  • Waterfall Photography Tips = link

OTHER WATERFALL GUIDEBOOKS

In addition to the New England Waterfalls guidebook, there are several other guidebooks that can help you find waterfalls and swimming holes:
  • Vermont Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls in New England: A Guide to the Region's Best Waterfall Hikes (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Waterfalls of the White Mountains: 30 Hikes to 100 Waterfalls (2nd Edition: 1999) = link
  • Connecticut Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2014) = link
  • Rodrick's Guide to Vermont Waterfalls, Cascades & Gorges (1st Edition: 2014) = link
       

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Join the growing communities of waterfall aficionados on Facebook! You can share your photographs, follow the adventures of other waterfall hunters, and find new places to explore:

  • Request to join the "New England Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "New Hampshire Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Northeastern Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Vermont Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Waterfalls of the United States" community > link

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Waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking can be extremely dangerous. Hundreds of people have been injured or killed in the waterfalls and swimming holes of New England over the years. Never swim in strong water currents. Don't jump into a swimming hole without scouting it first. Do not climb up or along the side of waterfalls. Be weary of slippery rocks. Never swim in pools above waterfalls. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! Newenglandwaterfalls.com and the authors of the New England Waterfalls guidebook will not be held liable for your actions. Be safe out there - and always use common sense!