LITTLE HELLGATE FALLS


Clarksville, New Hampshire



RATING: 4.5 / 5.0 stars (Excellent) Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
(see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: New Hampshire
COUNTY: Coos
TOWN: Clarksville
PARK: None
PRIVATE PROPERTY: Yes (although the general public is welcome)
TYPE: Fan
HEIGHT: 40 feet
WATER SOURCE: Hellgate Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.6 mile one-way to distant view; 0.8 mile one-way to base of falls
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate to distant view; moderate side of difficult to base of falls
HIKING TIME: 20 minutes one-way to distant view; 30 minutes one-way to base of falls
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 225 feet, down 25 feet to distant view; up 300 feet, down 100 feet to base of falls
WHEN TO VISIT: May to October
SWIMMING: Fair
DELORME ATLAS: 2005: Page 53, I-9 (the falls are not marked on the NH atlas)
2015: Page 36, A-3 (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: Standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: Hellgate Brook Falls, Hell Gate Brook Falls
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 45.024500, -71.179500
GPS-WATERFALL: 45.028853, -71.173421
COMPASS: 340° excluding declination (the falls face south)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: No, the falls are not currently included within the guidebook
Share this page / follow New England Waterfalls on Facebook!

/

THE FALLS

Garfield Falls and Little Hellgate Falls provide very compelling reasons to drive up into a remote section of the Great North Woods region of New Hampshire. Accessible by long but well-maintained dirt logging roads, both falls feel a million miles from the far more popular waterfalls of the White Mountain National Forest to the south.

Little Hellgate Falls fans 40 feet down into a steep and angled-rock gorge. The symmetry of the fan is remarkable, especially in high water.
Photographers can spend hours here shooting the falls from different angles, especially if they don't mind getting a little wet. The falls are exceptionally gorgeous if they are seen with high-water conditions during fall foliage. The combination of high-water and peak fall foliage is not a guarantee as late-September and early-October do not always provide strong rainfall.

Per several sources, Little Hellgate Falls has a tragic past. Several loggers allegedly lost their lives in the 19th and early 20th centuries as they tried to free log jams that occurred at the tight slot at the top of the falls. Seeing that the falls are only several feet wide at their start, it's not hard to imagine massive trees getting stuck after being sent barreling down the brook from far above.

TRAIL INFORMATION

From the junction of Cedar Stream Rd and snowmobile route 137, follow snowmobile route 137 south for 100 feet, passing under or around a metal gate that is typically closed from spring through fall. After the gate, cross over a bridge and walk 0.1 mile further until you see a second bridge. An unblazed trail will be on your left about 50 feet before that second bridge. As of 2017, a sign for "Hell Gate Brook Falls" is currently in place there. Turn onto this trail and in 0.2 mile further you'll get your first glimpse of the brook on your right, visible through the trees and by looking down into a ravine. Keep hiking, moderately uphill most of the time, and once you are about 0.6 mile from the trailhead, a short spur path on the right will lead you 30 feet to a picnic table and a distant, partially-obscured view of the falls.

To reach the base of the falls, which offer superior views that are devoid of any obstructions, return back to the main trail and continue hiking uphill as you head upstream beyond the falls. It's another 0.2 mile to reach the base of the falls. The trail will eventually reach the brook well above the falls. You'll need to cross the brook (which can be ankle to mid-leg deep) and then head downstream on the other (east) side of the brook. The trail is rough and steep as it down-climbs to the base of the falls. The rocks and ledge at the base of the falls are extremely slippery, so take caution.

Although this western approach to the falls appears to now be the more popular route, there is supposedly a rough path that heads to the falls on the east side of the brook. This path also comes within close proximity of a 13-foot falls, and it avoids having to cross Hellgate Brook. It is believed that this trail begins just past the second bridge mentioned above.

DIRECTIONS

Do not rely on your GPS to locate these falls as they are located on a network of remote dirt roads. From the junction of US-3 and NH 145 in Pittsburg, take US-3 north heading towards the Canadian border. Continue traveling on US-3 north for 4.7 miles past the dam on the First Connecticut Lake and take a right onto Magalloway Rd, which is a dirt road marked by a sign for the “Magalloway Mtn Lookout Station: 8 Miles”. To reach the trailhead for the falls, you will be following dirt roads for a total of 8.7 miles in a generally southern direction. Drive 2.9 miles on Magalloway Rd (making sure to stay straight at mile 1.1 and bear left at mile 2.2 to stay on the road) and then bear right onto a road marked as "20 West" (marked as Buck Horn Rd on some maps). Drive on 20 West for 3.5 miles and bear right at a major fork onto Cedar Stream Rd. Drive 2.3 miles on Cedar Stream Rd and park off the side of the road when you reach a junction with snowmobile trail 137 (marked as Skillings Gore Rd on some maps) on the left, which is normally gated outside of winter. There's a kiosk with information currently in place at this junction.

To get to Pittsburg, take US-3 north from Lincoln or the section of Carroll known as Twin Mountain.

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

While in the area, you should consider hiking to the fire-tower atop Magalloway Mountain. The views are outstanding.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
picnic table at the downstream viewpoint of the falls

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
distant views of the falls from downstream

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
distant views of the falls from downstream

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
the first part of the hike follows a snowmobile trail

Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire
Little Hellgate Falls, New Hampshire

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

Over 20,000 Copies Sold!


also available on...


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

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

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

Feel free to ask a question, leave a comment, and/or provide an update relevant to this waterfall below.
(your desktop/laptop browser may block this section - try your smartphone or tablet if you don't see a comment section below)

EXPLORE MORE OF NEW ENGLAND!
Connecticut /  Maine /  Massachusetts /  New Hampshire  /  Rhode Island  /  Vermont
Home Page /  About the Book /  Book Updates /  Top 40 Waterfalls /  Swimming Holes /  How To Use This Guide /  Contact Us
Waterfall Photography /  Top 25 New England Hikes /  4000 Footers of NH /  NH Cabin for Rent /  Bigroads.com

© newenglandwaterfalls.com
photographs/images may not be used without permission
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!