Race Brook Falls offers five distinct and very scenic sets of waterfalls. If that is not enough to entice you into visiting, you can continue past the falls up to the nearby summits of Mt. Everett or Mt. Race as an added bonus.
The lowermost falls drops nearly 100 feet and is surrounded by dozens of hemlock trees, creating a nice frame. The second falls, a pretty horsetail, is more exposed to the sun, and presents improved photographic opportunities. This is our favorite of the five waterfalls here. This one fans graceful down a steep ledge before splashing in a shallow pool below. Braving the slippery process of wading across the brook, it is possible to wade right up and lean against the rugged, nearly vertical wall that the water tumbles down.
Most waterfall types, including horsetails, plunges, cascades, slides, and fans, can be found by continuing up the steep trail past the second falls. The third and forth falls consist of plunges, horsetails and cascades. You will probably want to avoid the third falls in the early spring; constant mud is likely to be a common nuisance between the second and forth falls for hikers during this season. The fifth and final falls has very low water flow as it is found high on the mountainside. Viewing the upper fifth falls requires a short bushwhack, which almost ensures you privacy here.
Start your hike by checking the informational billboard to see if they have current trail maps of the Mt. Everest State Reservation available for your use. There is a network of potentially confusing trails here and there have been significant trail changes over the years that have altered access to the five waterfalls.
Begin your hike at the left end of the parking lot where the Race Brook Trail, marked with blue triangles, starts out relatively flat until you reach a fork after 0.3 mile. Take a left and you will reach Race Brook in 0.1 mile further, which you will have to cross. Once you cross the brook, continue hiking upstream on a trail for an additional 0.2 mile and you will reach a fork, marked by a sign for “View of Lower Falls Loop Trail.” Take a right at this fork and hike a few hundred feet to a T-junction, currently marked by a small sign pointing right saying “Falls View”.
Here is where things can get a little confusing. To get to the base of the lowermost falls, take a right at this sign and head downhill for less than 0.1 mile to witness the nearly 100-foot horsetail. Return back to this junction to visit the remaining four other waterfalls as there is no safe passage directly between the lowermost falls and the other falls along the brook. To visit the rest of the falls, take a left at the “Falls View” sign and continue hiking uphill for 0.1 mile and you will approach the top of the falls you just visited, visible on your right, and the base of the 30-foot second falls, visible just upstream. To safely reach the third falls, you will need to find the trail that leads steeply uphill starting between the top of the lowermost falls and the base of the second falls. The third falls, a 30-foot drop of horsetails and cascades, are only about 200 feet up this trail.
After the third falls, the trail climbs higher across even rougher and somewhat hard-to-follow terrain for about 250 feet before connecting back up with the Race Brook Trail. The fourth set of falls, a 60-foot set of gorgeous horsetails in high water, is located at this junction.
For many, this will be a good turn-around point to their trip. For those wanting to skip the seasonal fifth waterfall, you can either follow the blue-blazed Race Brook Trail back to your car, or you can return down the way you came past the waterfalls. For those who want to visit the upper falls, cross Race Brook below the fourth falls and follow the Race Brook Trail for 0.3 mile as it leads away from and then back toward the brook. When you arrive back at the brook, you will need to bushwhack about 75 feet downstream to see the 15-foot tall fifth falls, about 1.1 miles from your car. To make this task as easy as possible, we recommended crossing the brook and head down with the brook on your left. This section of trail is quite treacherous and is not recommended for children.
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.
The Race Brook Trail continues above the falls to a junction with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, about 2.1 miles from the parking area. By linking the Race Brook Trail with the Appalachian Trail, you can complement the waterfalls of Race Brook with the peaks of Mt. Race or Mt. Everett, both of which offer equally compelling views of the surrounding countryside. If you are looking for a little privacy, Mt. Race is the mountain to head to, as there is an auto road to the top of Mt. Everett.