Some enthusiasts will find visiting waterfalls in winter to be a rewarding experience. Here are some groups of people who may benefit from a visit to a winter waterfall:
- Solitude Seekers - solitude can almost be guaranteed during the winter at all but a few select waterfalls.
- Ice-Climbers - there are a couple of waterfalls in northern New England that can provide optimum conditions for this growing thrill sport.
- Nature Lovers - dramatic ice sculptures often cover the face of waterfalls.
- Photographers - snap gorgeous photographs of waterfalls in snowy settings that are seldom-seen in winter.
- Animal Trackers - follow the commonly-seen footprints of many animals that frequent trails near rivers and waterfalls.
- X-C Skiers - some waterfalls make great winter destinations
- Snowmobilers - a few waterfall located deep in the backcountry are easily accessed by snowmobilers.
Some waterfalls remain visible to visitors in winter, but many get obscurred by thick ice and deep snow. Some of the rivers and streams freeze, while others do not. Our favorite falls to visit are the ones that keep flowing despite the deep cold. It is tough to predict how each waterfall is going to appear because it depends on the current conditions and usually how deep into winter we are. A waterfall may still be flowing and visible in early January, but completely covered in snow and ice by March.
Bash Bish Falls, MA
(photo courtesy of Colleen Nowobilski)
Safety is a major concern in the winter. Hundreds of waterfalls that may be totally safe to visit during the summer carry some potentially serious hazards in the winter. Snow may obscure access trails to some, which could cause someone to get lost. Some trails require some river crossings, which may be dangerously cold in winter or otherwise impossible to cross. Waterfall hunters need to be much more prepared in winter, and must carry proper clothing, gear and food. Snowshoes are almost always required during this season, along with gloves, hats and extra warm clothing. It is also a good idea to travel with a friend in case something goes wrong.
Photography presents quite a challenge in winter. You'll want to avoid sunny days as the white of the snow will wreck havoc on your photographs as the reflection is incredibly intense. A circular polarizer will help if you have a DSLR or SLR, but only to a point. Just like during the summer, our favorite days for photograph are completely overcast days. We like adding people wearing brightly-colored clothing beside winter waterfalls to add zest to photographs.
Although we have not personally visited many of these during this season, here are our best guesses for the top choices for waterfalls in winter. Each of these should be relatively safe to visit in winter, but of course we cannot promise your personal safety - that's always your responsibility.
~ Chapman Falls - should be very short walk (assuming that the park road is open in winter)
~ Kent Falls - lower section of the falls is clearly visible from roadside
~ Wadsworth Big Falls - very short walk, but descent of several stairs is required (may be icy)
~ Grand Falls - best accessed by snowshoeing, X-C skiing or by snowmobile
~ Houston Brook Falls - snowshoes may be needed to walk short distance to falls
~ Moxie Falls - snowshoes are typically needed; we are not sure if access road is plowed in winter though
~ Screw Auger Falls (Grafton) - very short walk; be careful near the edge of the falls
~ Smalls Falls - very short walk
~ Bash Bish Falls - snowshoes typically needed; not sure if access road is open in winter though
~ Race Brook Falls - snowshoes are typically needed
~ Wahconah Falls - very short walk, assuming park road is actually open in winter (we aren't sure)
~ Arethusa Falls - popular with ice-climbers; snowshoes typically needed
~ Beaver Brook Falls (Colebrook) - clearly visible from roadside
~ Bridal Veil Falls - beautiful moderate snowshoe hike
~ Crystal Cascade - snowshoes may be needed
~ Diana's Baths - snowshoes typically needed on this easy hike
~ Ripley Falls - snowshoes typically needed
~ Sabbaday Falls - snowshoes may be needed
~ Silver Cascade - visible from roadside
~ Swiftwater Falls (Bath) - very short walk
~ Bartlett Falls - very short walk
~ Big Falls - very short walk from the parking area
~ Moss Glen Falls (Granville) - clearly visible from roadside
NEED MORE INFORMATION ON WHAT A WATERFALL IS LIKE DURING WINTER?
If you have any questions about visiting these waterfalls or any others on this website during the winter season, please contact us via email and we will try to provide the most up-to-date information and trail conditions. We should also be able to tell you the degree of difficulty involved in reaching a particular waterfall in winter (some are just as easy as summer and some are near impossible), and perhaps what the falls may look like as well.
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Waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking can be extremely dangerous. Hundreds of people have been injured or killed while hiking or while visiting the waterfalls and swimming holes of New England over the last 50 years. Never swim when the water currents seem like they are too high or strong. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! Be safe out there - and always use common sense!