Crawford Notch State Park is rich with noteworthy waterfalls. Towards the north end of the park are Gibbs Falls, Beecher and Pearl Cascades, and the sisters Flume Cascade and Silver Cascade. For the southern half of the state park, you will find popular day-trip destinations of Arethusa Falls and Ripley Falls, the later being discussed here.
Ripley Falls is a beautiful 100-foot sheet of whitewater flowing over a smooth rock wall. The rock wall is at about a 60-degree angle, causing the rushing mountain water to maintain contact with the rock during most of its descent. For the best photograph, scramble a few feet downstream and add some scale to your cameras frame, such as a person or rock in the foreground.
There are only short, temporary periods where the water jumps away from the rock wall. Because of this, Ripley Falls, as an entire structure, is one of the steepest-angled slides in all of New England.
The trail to the falls is an uphill climb most of the way. At times, it is muddy and moderately steep. From the parking lot, follow the white-blazed Ethan Pond Trail for slightly less than 0.2 miles to a junction with the Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail. Fork left onto the Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail, and continue for 0.4 miles further to the falls. The trail will be marked with blue-blazes from this point forward.
If you feel more adventurous, you can continue along the Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail to spectacular Arethusa Falls as part of a long loop. Arethusa Falls can also be visited on its own for a much easier trail. Please refer to the separate Arethusa Falls chapter for information on how to either do the loop or visit each falls on their own.
For those looking for extended overnight trips, Ripley Falls can be complemented with other waterfalls that sprout from short spur trails off the Ethan Pond Trail. Thoreau Falls and Zealand Falls are two waterfalls that can be added to Ripley Falls for either a lengthy day-trip or an overnight backpacking trip. There are several backcountry accommodations one can use for such a trip, including the AMC’s Zealand Falls Hut and the Ethan Pond Campsite.
There are also rumored waterfalls upstream of Ripley Falls called Sparkling Cascade and Sylvan Glade Cataract. Reaching these two elusive falls may involve extensive bushwhacking in steep and dangerous terrain, so please take caution.
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. When requesting directions via email, please remember to specify which particular waterfall(s) you are looking for directions to.
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