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This chapter describes four waterfalls fed by two mountain streams that drain waters from Mount Adams and Mountain Madison. Gordon Fall is the first stop on the 2.6 mile loop. A fanning 18-foot low-angle cascade, Gordon Fall is a well-shaded treat just downstream from where the Maple Walk meets Snyder Brook. There are several shallow pools for wading here.
The next waterfall of your journey is Salroc Falls, a two-part waterfall. Lower Salroc Falls consists of many small cascades, a long slide, and, finally, a short plunge into a large, cold and clear pool. Upper Salroc Falls is a few feet upstream. Here, Snyder Brook horsetails down moss-covered rocks and then slides down into a calm pool. Be sure to rock-hop across the brook to the table rock in front of the falls for the best view of the falls and the greatest chance for a fine photograph.
Tama Falls, the third waterfall of the trip, is just upstream from Salroc Falls. The final fall on Snyder Brook to be described here, Tama Falls is a 40-foot tall combination of a block and a set of steep cascades. The view from the trail is not sufficient for this waterfall. Be sure to follow one of several paths down the riverbank to the brook. From here, you witness a much more visually appealing waterfall, and as an added bonus, very often you can find yourself hidden from the crowded trail above.
Cold Brook Falls marks the last stop of the hike, yet is the first and only waterfall of Cold Brook on this trip. Cold Brook crashes down a wide terraced wall 30 feet tall into a dark pool. Although there are several modest swimming holes at the other falls of this trip, swimming is prohibited at Cold Brook Falls, as the water is Randolph's water supply.
In addition to Gordon, Salroc, Tama, and Cold Brook Falls, over half of a dozen other waterfalls can be found further up the trails that travel parallel to Cold Brook and Snyder Brook on the way to Mount Madison and Mount Adams. Although these are not described in this guide, many of these falls are quite impressive and provide excellent challenges for experienced hikers. For those interested, this route is described more comprehensively in Bolnick's Waterfalls of the White Mountains. Waterfalls to be found higher on the mountainside include Canyon Fall, Duck Fall, Chandler Fall, Marian Fall, Spur Brook Fall, Mossy Fall, Salmacis Fall and Thornike Fall. Some of these are lost waterfalls in that they are seldom visited and currently require bushwhacks of varying degrees of difficulty.
UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION
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The trails used to visit the four waterfalls of Appalachia are located in one of the most complex and confusing trail networks we have found in our travels. For this reason, we urge you to purchase the AMC White Mountain Guide (29th edition: 2012), which contains an excellent trail map for this area.
Cold Brook Falls, New Hampshire
far above the waterfalls of Appalachia lies Star Lake
Madison Spring Hut sits a few miles above the waterfalls of Appalachia
view from nearby Mt. Adams
view from nearby Mt. Adams
INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?
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.
- 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
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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