FALLS ON THE FALLING WATERS TRAIL


Lincoln & Franconia, New Hampshire



RATING: 5.0 / 5.0 stars (Outstanding) Cloudland Falls, Falls On The Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: New Hampshire
COUNTY: Grafton
TOWN: Lincoln & Franconia
PARK: Franconia Notch State Park & White Mountain National Forest
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No
TYPE: Plunges, horsetails, and cascades
HEIGHT: Stairs Falls is 15 feet; Swiftwater Falls is 60 feet; Cloudland Falls is 80 feet
WATER SOURCE: Dry Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium
TRAIL LENGTH: 1.3 miles one-way to visit all three falls
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: To Stairs Falls & Swiftwater Falls, moderate; to Cloudland Falls, moderate side of difficult
HIKING TIME: 75 minutes one-way to visit all three falls
ALTITUDE GAIN: To Stairs Falls and Swiftwater Falls, up 450 feet; to Cloudland Falls, up 800 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: Mid-May to mid-October
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: 2005: Page 43, F-12 (the falls are not marked on the NH atlas)
2015: Page 51, B-4 (the falls are not marked on the NH/VT atlas)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2017)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: None noted
GPS-TRAILHEAD: Coming soon
GPS-WATERFALL: Coming soon
COMPASS: Stairs Falls: 250° excluding declination (the falls face west)
Swiftwater Falls: 250° excluding declination (the falls face west)
Cloudland Falls: 295° excluding declination (the falls face southwest)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included as a full chapter within the guidebook
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THE FALLS

The Falling Waters Trail is a popular 3.2-mile trail to the summit of Little Haystack Mountain. Along the way are three waterfalls, each with their own personality. Stairs Falls, where Dry Brook plunges 15 feet down small granite steps into a shallow pool, is the first waterfall seen on this trip. Just 100 feet above Stairs Falls is Swiftwater Falls, a 60-foot tall mix of cascades and small plunges. The trail crosses Dry Brook in front of this waterfall, so if the crowds are thick on the day of your visit, this will be a busy spot.

The final and most impressive of the waterfalls, 80-foot Cloudland Falls, is a picturesque fan-type horsetail. The fanning structure of this waterfall is the most impressive aspect of the falls, with the width at the top of the falls at about 2 feet, and the width at the bottom about 25 feet during periods of high water.

TRAIL INFORMATION

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

DIRECTIONS

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

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

If you are well-prepared, have ample time and energy, and the weather forecast is promising, follow the rest of the crowd uphill on the Falling Waters Trail to the Franconia Ridge Trail and, ultimately, on to the summits of Mt. Lincoln (5,089 feet) and Mt. Lafayette (5,260 feet), for a loop hike that totals 8.9 miles with nearly 4,000 feet of elevation gain. This difficult loop hike takes most people 6-8 hours to complete and it should never be attempted in poor weather conditions. Snow and ice can persist on this route well into late May and first snowfall is typically in early to mid-October. Hiking this loop counter-clockwise is recommended, since sections of the Falling Waters Trail are steep and often slippery.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Cloudland Falls, Falls On The Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire
Cloudland Falls, Falls on the Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire

Stairs Falls, Falls On The Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire
Stairs Falls, Falls on the Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire

Falls On The Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire
Cloudland Falls, Falls on the Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire

Falls On The Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire
Stairs Falls, Falls on the Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire

Falls On The Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire
Swiftwater Falls, Falls on the Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire

Falls On The Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire
Cloudland Falls, Falls on the Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire

Mt. Lincoln as seen from Little Haystack Mountain, New Hampshire
If you continue hiking above the Falls on the Falling Waters Trail, you eventually reach this view from Little Haystack Mountain

The Franconia Ridge Trail, far above the Falls on the Falling Waters Trail
The Franconia Ridge Trail, which is located a few miles above the falls

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.



New England Waterfalls

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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
       

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

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ASK A QUESTION / LEAVE A COMMENT / PROVIDE AN UPDATE:

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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!