Sargents Purchase, New Hampshire

RATING: 4.5 / 5.0 stars (Excellent) Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Sargents Purchase
PARK: White Mountain National Forest
TYPE: Plunges, horsetails, and cascades
HEIGHT: The falls above Gem Pool are 35 feet; upper falls are 100 feet
WATER SOURCE: Ammonoosuc River
TRAIL LENGTH: To Gem Pool, 2.1 miles one-way; to the upper falls, 2.3 miles one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate side of difficult
HIKING TIME: To Gem Pool, 1 hour, 30 minutes one-way; to the upper falls, 1 hour, 50 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: To Gem Pool, up 950 feet; to the upper falls, up 1,300 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: Mid-May to mid-October
SWIMMING: Good at Gem Pool (although it's very cold); the upper falls is too dangerous to swim in
DELORME ATLAS: 2005: Page 44, A&B-5 (the falls are not marked on the NH atlas)
2015: Page 52, A-1 (the falls are not marked on the NH/VT atlas)
COST TO VISIT: Yes (a per-vehicle parking fee is charged; bring cash)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: Gem Pool, Gem Pool Falls, Upper Falls, Captain Dodge's Cascade
GPS-TRAILHEAD: Coming soon
GPS-WATERFALL: Coming soon
COMPASS: Gem Pool: 220° excluding declination (the falls face northwest)
Upper Falls: 210° excluding declination (the falls face northwest)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included as a full chapter within the guidebook
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The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail passes two picturesque sets of falls before clambering above tree-line and landing at the doorstep of the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut, one of eight full-service backcountry huts offering hiker accommodations in the White Mountains. For most hikers, the falls and hut will be used as places to catch their breath before tackling mighty Mt. Washington and perhaps other peaks along the Presidential Range.

The first falls reached are seen directly from the trail. This 35-foot set of cascades is on your right at the distant end of a frigid pool named Gem Pool. Further up, a spur trail will lead you right and slightly downhill to a commanding view of the upper falls, which are split into two sections about 50 feet apart. From this position, the upper falls appear to consist of a 100-foot drop into deep pools of water. The true total drop of the falls is hundreds of more feet, but scrambling to find them is just not an option here; starting at Gem Pool, the terrain along the trail is notoriously steep. Some estimate the total drop of the river to be 600 or 700 feet. Bushwhacking to see additional falls between Gem Pool and the upper falls is dangerous and not recommended.


Trail information and directions for this particular waterfall can be found in the latest edition of the guidebook: New England Waterfalls.


Trail information and directions for this particular waterfall can be found in the latest edition of the guidebook: New England Waterfalls.


The falls are en route to the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut, not the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut. This was an error in the 2nd edition of the New England Waterfalls guidebook.

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 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


The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is widely considered to be the easiest route by which to climb Mt. Washington, the tallest peak in New England. Hiking Mt. Washington from this western approach requires a 9.6-mile, 3,800-foot elevation gain loop hike. The following trails are used during this loop: Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, Crawford Path, Gulfside Trail, and the Jewell Trail. Although this is widely considered the easiest route to climb "The Rockpile," it is still very difficult and should not be attempted in poor weather conditions. Hikers should carry the "10 Essentials" and check the forecast of the Mt. Washington Observatory before attempting to climb this peak.


Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire

Gem Pool, Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, New Hampshire
Gem Pool along the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail

Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire

the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut lies above Ammonoosuc Ravine
the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut lies above Ammonoosuc Ravine

view from Mt. Monroe, New Hampshire
view from Mt. Monroe, which can be climbed as part of a tough day hike that also visits the falls of Ammonoosuc Ravine

Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire

Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
a trailhead sign for Ammonoosuc Ravine

Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
a trailhead sign for Ammonoosuc Ravine

Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
Gem Pool as seen from where the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail crosses the river

Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire

Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire

Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire

Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire
Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire


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

New England Waterfalls

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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.


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


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


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

And if you'd like to follow the New England Waterfalls page on Facebook, click here.


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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! 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!