ROCKY GORGE


Albany, New Hampshire



RATING: 3.5 / 5.0 stars (Great) Rocky Gorge, New Hampshire (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: New Hampshire
COUNTY: Carroll County
TOWN: Albany
PARK: White Mountain National Forest
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No
TYPE: Cascades
HEIGHT: 15-foot total drop
WATER SOURCE: Swift River
WATERSHED SIZE: Very Large
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.1 mile one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy
HIKING TIME: 5 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: Negligible
WHEN TO VISIT: May to October
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: Page 44, J&K-7 (the falls are marked as 'Rocky Gorge Scenic Area' on the NH atlas/map)
HANDICAP ACCESS: Yes (0.1 mile walk on a paved path)
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Yes (a per-vehicle parking fee is charged; bring cash)
LENS TO BRING: Standard (35-70mm), short telephoto (70-105mm), and/or telephoto (105-200mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: None noted
GPS COORDINATES: To be determined
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included as a full chapter within the guidebook
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THE FALLS

Along with nearby Lower Falls and Sabbaday Falls, Rocky Gorge is another popular must-stop attraction for visitors traveling the Kancamagus Highway. Similar to these other admired waterfalls, Rocky Gorge can be teeming with shutterbugs, swimmers, and other visitors. Despite the crowds, this 15-foot plunge is absolutely worthy of your attention since it is a highly photogenic waterfall set on an open, sunny river.

A bridge has been constructed a short distance below the falls to give you one of the better possible perspectives. You do not need the bridge to see the falls though; the river is easy enough to navigate around. You will notice signs near the gorge prohibiting swimming. Although swimming in the gorge is prohibited, you may swim downstream of the falls and gorge if the water conditions are safe enough to do so. The river typically does have a rather fast current here, but in low-water conditions, some small pools downstream can be great for a quick dip.

As you walk along the trail to view the falls you will read a story as to why swimming is prohibited at Rocky Gorge. In 1942 Dorothy Sparks went for a swim only to get sucked into the currents and lodged under the rocks beneath the surface. During the three-hour rescue, all thought she was lost, but miraculously she survived. The falls have been off-limits to swimming ever since this event.

There are also picnic tables and bathroom facilities here as well, making the area very visitor friendly. As an added bonus, continue on the path after crossing the bridge across the river and in a short distance, you'll reach the peaceful and scenic Falls Pond.

TRAIL INFORMATION

Trail information for this particular waterfall can be found in the latest edition of the guidebook: New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition.

DIRECTIONS

Directions for this particular waterfall can be found in the latest edition of the guidebook: New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition.

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

Updates to all of the waterfalls in the latest edition of the New England Waterfalls guidebook can always be found here: book updates

SPECIAL NOTES

None noted.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Rocky Gorge, New Hampshire
Rocky Gorge, New Hampshire

the view downstream form Rocky Gorge, New Hampshire
the view downstream form Rocky Gorge, New Hampshire

the view from the bridge downstream of Rocky Gorge, New Hampshire
the view from the bridge downstream of Rocky Gorge, New Hampshire

Falls Pond, which is only an easy walk beyond Rocky Gorge
Falls Pond, which is only an easy walk beyond Rocky Gorge

another shot of Falls Pond
another shot of Falls Pond

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.
  • 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
       

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!