THIRTEEN FALLS


Franconia, New Hampshire



RATING: 4.5 / 5.0 stars (Excellent) Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: New Hampshire
COUNTY: Grafton
TOWN: Franconia
PARK: White Mountain National Forest
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No
TYPE: Plunges, horsetails and cascades
HEIGHT: Tallest falls is 20 feet; total of all drops is at least 150 feet
WATER SOURCE: Franconia Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium
TRAIL LENGTH: 8.0 miles one-way to first falls; add 0.2 miles one-way to visit all four other falls
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate, but long; difficult scramble to base of lowest falls
HIKING TIME: 5 hours one-way to all falls
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 1,000 feet to first falls; add 150 feet to visit all four other falls
WHEN TO VISIT: Late-May to mid-October
SWIMMING: 1st falls: Outstanding
2nd falls: Good (although it can be dangerous in high water)
3rd falls: Not Possible
4th falls: Great
5th falls: Outstanding (there are two pools here and the lower one is the most family-friendly of all pools at Thirteen Falls)
DELORME ATLAS: 2005: Page 43, E-13 (the falls are not marked on the NH atlas)
2015: Page 51, B-5 (the falls are not marked on the NH/VT atlas)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Yes (a per-vehicle parking fee is charged; a per-person tenting fee is also charged if you plan on staying overnight; bring cash)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: #13 Falls, No. 13 Falls
GPS-TRAILHEAD: Coming soon
GPS-WATERFALL: Coming soon
COMPASS: 1st falls: 50° excluding declination (the falls face southeast)
2nd falls: 80° excluding declination (the falls face east)
3rd falls: 65° excluding declination (the falls face east)
4th falls: 50° excluding declination (the falls face southeast)
5th falls: 60° excluding declination (the falls face east)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included as a full chapter within the guidebook
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THE FALLS

For a taste of true backcountry falls, opt to wander deep into the Pemigewasset Wilderness, where you will find Thirteen Falls, a mix of cascades and pools in one of the most remote locations in the White Mountain National Forest. Five notable waterfalls exist here, ranging in height from 5 feet to 20 feet tall. No one particular falls is extraordinary, but as a whole, these wild and secluded gems will surely please all.

All but the third falls have fine pools below them, although all are typically quite chilly. An 80-plus degree day in July or August is what most people will need to convince them to jump on in. If you are lucky enough to be here on such a day, you will likely forever cherish the moments spent. The large, lower pool found at the fifth falls typically has a gentle current and it has a relatively easy entrance and exit point; it is the most family-friendly of all pools here. The pool below the second falls can be dangerous in moderate or high water.

The falls are commonly overlooked by hikers passing through who are continuing onto, or returning from, one or several of the many 4000-foot mountains that surround the wilderness area. The falls deserve far more attention than this. Photographers will thoroughly enjoy shooting the major falls and all the small cascades and slides between them. At a minimum, plan on an hour or two of tramping your way up and downstream to view and perhaps photograph all five of the waterfalls.

Visiting Thirteen Falls is tiresome on your feet; the total round trip hike, at 16.0 miles, is the longest hike described in this guide. Allot about 10-14 hours, depending upon your pace and endurance, for this remote adventure. An alternative to day hiking is to backpack to one of the nine hardened tent pads at the nearby 13 Falls Tentsite (which is historically called Camp 13). These campsites are first-come, first-serve and the cost per night in 2017 was $10.00 per person, per night. More detailed information about tenting at this location can be found on the website of the Appalachian Mountain Club: www.outdoors.org.

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

None noted.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the 4th of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the upper (5th) falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the upper (5th) falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the lower section of the upper (5th) falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the lower section of the upper (5th) falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the lower section of the upper (5th) falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the 4th of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
en route to Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
en route to Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
a pond en route to Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the 3rd of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the lowest (1st) of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the lowest (1st) of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the 3rd of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the lowest (1st) of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the 3rd of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the 3rd of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the 4th of five falls at Thirteen Falls

Thirteen Falls, New Hampshire
the 4th of five falls at Thirteen 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!