With waterfalls that are as well known such as Champney Falls is, finding historical information comes with ease. At the trailhead you will have the pleasure of reading an informative sign stating that these particular falls were named after Benjamin Champney, a famous White Mountains landscape painter during the second half of the 19th century. He romanticized many nearby waterfalls, including Glen Ellis Falls, Ripley Falls and Thompson Falls.
Champney Falls is broken into several major sections. The first drop you approach is the lower falls and this is 10 feet wide with a 20-foot drop. Please note that this width does depend on the season and the earlier you visit in the springtime, the wider the falls will be. Above this plunge is an impressive 60-foot drop made up of a series of cascades, plunges and a 12-foot horsetail. Comparatively speaking, this waterfall is less rewarding than others considering the efforts needed to get there. Perhaps the best way to visit the falls is to enjoy them as a break on a day-trip up to the rocky and open summit of Mt. Chocorua.
The trailhead begins on the left end of the parking lot when facing the woods. Start your journey to the falls by hiking 0.1 mile in the woods along the Champney Falls Trail where you will come to a junction in which the Bolles Trail splits off to the right. Continue straight and keep climbing along the Champney Falls Trail. After passing a few arrow signs, which can be difficult to spot, you will reach a trail junction. Take a left onto the loop trail that guides you past Pitcher Falls and Champney Falls. Soon after turning onto the loop, you will see a series of seasonal plunges to the left. Hike further upstream from this point and you will arrive at Pitcher Falls first, identifiable by larger cascades than what you have seen up to this point, along with several small pools.
The trail climbs steeply above Pitcher Falls for a short distance to Champney Falls. Once you arrive at Champney Falls, the trail ascends dramatically alongside the waterfall via stone steps before it reconnects back with the Champney Falls Trail at the end of the loop. From this junction above the falls, you can either head down 1.7 miles to the parking lot or continue to the summit of Chocorua, 2.1 miles and 1600 feet of elevation gain away.
Directions for this particular waterfall are not posted online. Please see directions in our published guidebook, New England Waterfalls: A Guide to More Than 400 Cascades And Waterfalls, or you can email us and we will happily provide them to you.
Photo generously provided by Jeb Fisher.