Cutts Grant, New Hampshire

RATING: 4.5 / 5.0 stars (Excellent) Dry River Falls, New Hampshire (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Cutts Grant
PARK: White Mountain National Forest
TYPE: Horsetails, cascades, and a fan
HEIGHT: 45-foot total drop
TRAIL LENGTH: 5.4 miles one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate side of difficult
HIKING TIME: 3 hours, 30 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 1,600 feet, down 200 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: May to October
DELORME ATLAS: 2005: Page 44, C-5 (the falls are not marked on the NH atlas)
2015: Page 52, B-1 (the falls are not marked on the NH/VT atlas)
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 44.159000, -71.365167
GPS-WATERFALL: 44.219941, -71.333497
COMPASS: 0° excluding declination (the falls face south)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included within the appendix of the guidebook
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Dry River Falls is a remote and scenic backcountry waterfall that was skipped for the first two editions of this guide. The reason it took is so long to be included in this guide is probably the same reason why so many White Mountain hikers have not made this trek; the 11-mile round trip hike is frankly quite long for a waterfall day-hike. The falls are easily worth the effort involved, though. The main falls, a 25-foot fan that expands significantly as it slides down a steep wall, is one of the finest of its type in New England. Above the fan is an upper set of horsetails and cascades dropping a total of about 20 feet. The entire falls and surrounding area are fully open to the sun, with no obstructions affecting your viewing pleasure. Due to its openness, the falls are visually spectacular, especially during fall foliage.

At the base of the main falls is a medium-sized but cold swimming hole. Swimming is only safe in low-water here as the Dry River is known for its turbulence. Most of the rim around the pool is rocky and rugged and unfortunately, there is no beach-like area to help you get slowly introduced into the pool. There is also a pothole above the falls that's fitting for a few hikers, but only in the lowest of water conditions. Overall, Dry River Falls is a good swimming hole, but there are more attractive ones in the National Forest.

The mist of the falls carries a great distance. You will find that all the rocks around the falls are typically mist-covered, so great caution is necessary as you explore; rock-hopping should not be attempted. The mist is also likely to cloud your camera's lens in no time at all. A lens cloth is an essential piece of gear here if serious photography is in the cards for you.

There are several tent-sites found along the approach trail. There are a few sites adjacent to the falls, but they do not meet the requirement that backpackers must be at least 200 feet from the trail. To camp legally, there are four U.S. Forest Service-designated campsites along the Dry River Trail between the trailhead and the falls. The absolute finest of these sites was found on the left about 200 feet past the Dry River Trail's junction with the Isolation Trail. This site was private and nicely-developed, with room for several small or medium-sized tents. Another option is Dry River Shelter #3 (shelters' #1 and #2 have been removed) about 0.9 mile above the falls. Be aware that getting to this shelter requires crossing the Dry River just above the falls. This may be no simple task based upon the level of the river. When the shelter's condition is finally deemed unsafe, it will be removed. Since the shelter is within the boundaries of an official wilderness area, it will likely not be replaced.


The hike to Dry River Falls is one of the longest in this guide at 10.8 miles round-trip. The good news is that all the trail damage done by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 has since been mitigated. The trail is now open and a long adventure awaits you if you wish to hike to the falls.

For much of the hike to the falls, you will be walking in a wild, Congressionally-designated wilderness area called the Dry River Wilderness. This designation means that the trail is not maintained to the same standard that non-wilderness trails are. You are likely to encounter some mud, uncleared blowdowns, and sections of eroded trail. There is a lack of trail blazes marked on the trees, but this is generally not a problem as the Dry River Trail is reasonably well-defined from the trailhead to the falls. There are also a half-dozen ups and downs along the trail that some hikers may find frustrating, especially on the return trip. Thankfully, the old hurdle of fording the Dry River, which used to be required to visit the falls, was eliminated with the construction of a suspension bridge in 2009. Having this bridge means that there are no longer any non-bridge crossings of the Dry River required to reach the falls. There are a few tributaries to cross along the way, but they are typically very tame.

Start this long hike from the Dry River Trail trailhead on US-302 as the trail heads generally north. You will be following the Dry River Trail for a total of 5.4 miles one-way, passing several trail junctions along the way. At 0.5 mile from the parking area, you will reach your first junction. Continue straight on the Dry River Trail for an additional 1.2 miles and you will reach the suspension bridge over the Dry River. Cross the bridge and continue left for another 1.2 miles and you will reach a junction with the Mt. Clinton Trail. Take a right and follow the Dry River Trail another 2.0 miles to the next junction with the Isolation Trail. Take note that 0.1 mile before the Isolation Trail junction, the trail will take an abrupt 90-degree turn to the left and cross a tributary of the Dry River. At the Isolation Trail junction, continue straight on the Dry River Trail for 0.3 mile and you will reach the next junction with the Mt. Eisenhower Trail. The Mt. Eisenhower Trail heads left and immediately starts descending, but you will need to stay straight on the Dry River Trail and hike a final 0.25 mile further. Look for a washout on your left-hand side that descends fairly steeply. You will have to look carefully, as there is often a significant amount of water flowing and it doesn't exactly look like a trail. Descend the rough path for about 125 feet, dropping about 40 feet along the way, and you will see the falls slightly upstream. Scramble down to the river for unobstructed views. There are plenty of rocks to sit and relax on along the riverbed.

For an alternative approach, visitors can also visit the falls from the AMC's Mizpah Springs Hut. From the hut, it is a 2.7 mile hike that drops about 1,300 feet of elevation. When the Dry River is running high, this option really isn't a viable one; crossing the river is often dangerous and deaths have occurred along this river. This section of trail can also be tough to follow as it is not well-maintained and it is used infrequently by hikers.


From the junction of US-302 and US-3 in the section of Carroll known as Twin Mountain, take US-302 east for 13.7 miles and park in a pull-off on the left side of the road that can fit a half-dozen or so vehicles. If you are traveling on US-302 west from the junction of US-302 and NH 16 in the section of Bartlett known as Glen, the parking pull-off will be on your right after 15.3 miles. A small sign for the Dry River Trail currently marks this trailhead. This parking area is also 0.2 mile west of the entrance to the Dry River Campground and 5.3 miles east of the AMC Highland Center Lodge.

To get to Twin Mountain, take I-93 north from Lincoln to US-3 north, or take US-302 west from Conway.


The Dry River Trail was closed for several years after Hurricane Irene hit in 2011. The trail was rerouted and is now open. To reach the falls, there are no crossings of the Dry River, other than one across a suspension bridge.

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


You can continue beyond the falls to the Dry River Shelter #3 or even towards some of the Presidential Range peaks. Take note that the trail beyond the falls can be difficult to follow, even for experienced hikers.


Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
Dry River Falls, New Hampshire

Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
Dry River Falls, New Hampshire

Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
Dry River Falls, New Hampshire

Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
Dry River Falls, New Hampshire

Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
one of the official tent-sites en route to Dry River Falls

Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
the only crossing of the Dry River en route to the falls is across this suspension bridge

Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
Dry River Falls, New Hampshire

Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
Dry River Falls, New Hampshire

Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
Dry River Falls, New Hampshire

Dry River Falls, New Hampshire
Dry River Falls, 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 Amazon.com.

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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! 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!