In years past, this pool was notorious for being clothing-optional, but there are just too many people aware of its existence these days. The Baldface Circle Trail is now very well-traveled throughout the spring, summer and fall, and so Emerald Pool is no longer far off the beaten path.
What draws many visitors to this hot spot is not the nice falls slicing their way down through the jagged rocks, but instead the beautiful and green 10 or 12 foot deep pool for cooling off on a hot day. It is one of two spectacular swimming holes in Evans Notch (the other being Rattlesnake Pool). This place holds a special place in many hearts, and when you feast your eyes on this tempting pool, it will probably win you over as well.
The best way to enjoy a swim Emerald Pool is to take a dip after you hike the 9.8 mile loop over the Baldfaces. This difficult hike is one of New England's finest loops, but it should only be done in good weather conditions and when the slabs on South Baldface are likely to be dry and free of ice.
Your journey to Emerald Pool begins across the highway from the parking area. Walk 150 feet further north up ME 113, where you will see the Baldface Circle Trail heading up a stone staircase and into the woods on the left. Hike along the trail as it gradually climbs for 0.7 mile and you will come to a major intersection of several trails. Turn right and follow a spur trail 0.1 mile down to the pool and small falls.
Ardent hikers can also continue higher into the mountains to visit the attractive fan-shaped, although extremely seasonal, Eagle Cascade. The payoff for this 4.6 mile round-trip is fairly low due to how seasonal the falls are and the fact that a large blowdown is sitting directly in front of the falls as of 2017. To reach the cascade, continue straight onto the northern loop of the Baldface Circle Trail from the junction near Emerald Pool, heading towards Eagle Crag and North Baldface (a left would guide you along the southern end of the loop towards South Baldface). Continue for 0.7 mile further and you will come to a fork. The Bicknell Ridge Trail will head left and begin climbing towards North Baldface. You will want to take the right fork and stay on the Baldface Circle Trail. Continue hiking for 0.7 additional miles and you will reach a third junction. At this point, you are 2.1 miles from the trailhead. Take a left this time onto the Eagle Cascade Link Trail, This trail eventually reconnects with the Bicknell Ridge Trail above the cascade, but you need not go that far to reach the waterfall. After hiking about 0.25 mile along the Eagle Cascade Link Trail, the cascade will be exposed through the trees. A short spur trail brings you closer to the falls.
From the junction of ME 113 and US-302 in Fryeburg, Maine, take ME 113 north (which is also initially called River St) for 17.5 miles and turn right into a large parking area for the Baldface Circle Trail. If you are traveling on ME 113 south from US-2 in Gilead, the parking area will be on your left after driving for 12.7 miles. This parking area is also 0.6 mile south of the trailhead for the Mt Meader Trail, which leads west to Brickett Falls.
Take note that ME 113 is a gated seasonal road, with a typical opening date in mid-May and a closing date that ranges from early October to early November, depending upon the year. Access to this trailhead in the offseason is only possible from the south as ME 113 is gated for a 9.1 mile section of road from 0.2 mile south of Brickett Place up to 1.6 miles south of where ME 113 connects with US-2. The official website of the White Mountain National Forest contains a page that indicates the current status (open / closed) of ME 113 and other national forest roads.
To get to Fryeburg, take NH 113 east from NH 16 in Conway, New Hampshire into Maine.
To get to Gilead, take US-2 west from Bethel or US-2 east from Gorham, New Hampshire.
UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION
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 email@example.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
Emerald Pool, New Hampshire
Emerald Pool, New Hampshire
Emerald Pool, New Hampshire
Emerald Pool, New Hampshire
Emerald Pool, New Hampshire
the start of the Baldface Circle Trail, which will lead you to the spur trail that visits Emerald Pool, New Hampshire
there are a few bog bridges on the way to Emerald Pool (which are always a hit with children)
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. 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
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
WATERFALLS ON FACEBOOK
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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