Gilsum & Sullivan, New Hampshire

RATING: 3.0 / 5.0 stars (Great) Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire
(see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: New Hampshire
COUNTY: Cheshire
TOWN: Gilsum & Sullivan
PARK: John & Rosemarie Calhoun Family Forest
TYPE: Horsetail and plunge
HEIGHT: 13-foot total drop
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.4 mile one-way or 0.8 mile for entire loop
HIKING TIME: 12 minutes one-way or 25 minutes for entire loop
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 30 feet to base of falls; up 40 feet, down 40 feet for entire loop
WHEN TO VISIT: May to October
SWIMMING: Main falls: Not Possible
Pool that is 75-feet downstream of falls: Good
DELORME ATLAS: 2005: Page 25, K-12 (the falls are not marked on the NH atlas)
2015: Page 73, C-5 (the falls are not marked on the NH/VT atlas)
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2017)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 43.036500, -72.260500
GPS-WATERFALL: 43.035167, -72.257333
COMPASS: 135° excluding declination (the falls face northeast)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: No, the falls are not currently included within the guidebook
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Public access to Porcupine Falls begin in 2011 with the conservation of the John & Rosemarie Calhoun Family Forest. The Calhoun family donated the land to the Monadnock Conservancy, an accredited land trust that is dedicated to protecting and managing conservation lands across the 35 towns that comprise the Monadnock region. Donating your land creates a lasting legacy that all of us nature lovers can appreciate.

The 13-foot falls lie in a mixed hardwood-conifer forest and exhibit fascinating geology. The falls pass through a gap between rising ridges of rock, with hemlock trees looming above. The brook has been undercutting the slanted rock ledges for thousands for years. Immediately upon landing, the brook takes an abrupt 90-degree left turn and tiny cascades ensue. About 75 feet downstream, a 3-foot punchbowl falls dumps into a tempting pool just below a hiker's bridge over the brook.


This is an easy, family-friendly hike. From the parking area, immediately cross a bridge over the brook and turn right onto the blue-blazed Porcupine Trail. The trail will eventually loop back to the trailhead using an extension of White Brook Rd that is closed to vehicles. Follow the trail upstream with the brook on your right, although it will be out of view for about half of the hike. After hiking on the exceptionally well-constructed trail (notice the rock staircases that were built with pride), you'll reach another bridge over the brook. The falls are only 40 feet upstream of the bridge. Make sure to rock-hop up to the falls because you can't see them fully from the bridge or the trail. There is also a small but lovely swimming hole just downstream of the bridge.

After enjoying the falls, you can either return the way you came, or you can finish the hike as a loop. To continue the loop, cross the bridge below the falls and follow the blue-blazes gently uphill until you reach White Brook Rd. Turn right and follow the blue-blazes continually downhill all the way back to the trailhead. As you walk along this road, you will need to bear right at several forks in order to stay on the proper route.


From the northeastern junction of NH 10 and NH 9 in Keene, take NH 10 north for 5.1 miles and turn right onto White Brook Rd in Gilsum. If you are traveling south on NH 10, White Brook Rd will be on the left 7.3 miles south of the junction of NH 10 and NH 123 in Marlow. Follow White Brook Rd east for 0.5 mile and you'll find a small parking area on the right at the end of the dirt road.

Although likely located on private property, nearby Gilsum Falls is partially visible from NH 10. Look for the falls on the right about 1.5 miles north of White Brook Rd. Views of the falls are excellent in early spring if you visit before the leaves grow in for the season.

To get to Keene, take VT 9 east from Brattleboro, Vermont to NH 9 east.



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


None noted.


Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire
Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire

Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire
Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire

Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire
Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire

Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire
Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire

Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire
the bridge at the start of the trail

Porcupine Falls, New Hampshire
a small but refreshing pool below the main falls


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!