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Hamden, Connecticut

RATING: 2.0 / 5.0 stars (Good) Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Connecticut
COUNTY: New Haven
TOWN: Hamden
PARK: Sleeping Giant State Park
TYPE: Horsetails, fans, and slides
HEIGHT: Lower falls is a 20-foot total drop; upper falls is 6 feet
TRAIL LENGTH: To lower falls, 0.3 mile one-way; to upper falls, 0.4 mile one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy side of moderate
HIKING TIME: To lower falls, 10 minutes one-way; to upper falls, 15 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: To lower falls, up 75 feet; to upper falls, up 125 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: April to June
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: 2007: Page 25, A-16 (the falls are not marked on the CT atlas)
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 41.438333, -72.892333
GPS-WATERFALL: Lower falls: 41.438333, -72.888500
Upper falls: 41.437667, -72.886833
COMPASS: Lower falls: 315° excluding declination (the falls face southwest, although a portion of the falls faces west)
Upper falls: 230° excluding declination (the falls face northwest)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included within the appendix of the guidebook
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The lower falls are a series of thin horsetails, fans and slides that drop 20 feet through a steep ravine over a horizontal distance of about 40 or 45 feet. Some of the fanning horsetails are somewhat photogenic when there is a strong water flow, but there are some downed trees and other debris scattered throughout the ravine that detract from its beauty somewhat. The tallest horsetail is perhaps 8-feet tall and it fans out nicely. The premier waterfall here is the upper falls, which lie a short distance upstream from the lower falls. Here you will find a 6-foot horsetail in a neat little gorge that also has an uncommonly-found alcove component. There is no debris found here; the falls are clearly viewable in their entirety as they crash through the miniature gorge. In summary, there should be no huge rush to get out and see these seasonal falls. However, I can recommend them if you visit the falls in the spring and also combine them with a climb up the park's famous stone tower (see trail instructions below). The name of this waterfall is not official. David Ellis of is generally credited with naming this waterfall, although other online maps seem to have also adopted the name "Gorge Cascade".

There are also rumors of another waterfall within the state park between the Purple/Violet Trail and the ski trail. I am yet to find or visit those falls.


From the parking area, head straight into the woods along the red-circle-blazed Gorge Cascade Trail. There are other trails in this area, so make sure that you stay on the red-circle-blazed trail as it will take you to both the lower and upper falls.

The brook will be on your left as you gradually climb 0.3 mile to the first set of falls. The only view of the first falls is by looking down from the rim of a ravine. It is far too dangerous to scramble down the ravine, but you could probably double-back and wade up the stream to reach the bottom of the falls if you were so inclined. To get to the upper falls, continue hiking uphill along the Gorge Cascade Trail and you will clearly see the 6-foot horsetail on your left. You can stand directly in front of these upper falls. The upper falls are well above the end of the ravine and you'll probably feel like you've gone too far before you actually reach them.

If you have the time and ambition, I highly recommend continuing your day hike within the state park to visit an awesome and famous stone tower that offers excellent and unobstructed 270-degree views. To visit the tower, hike 0.3 mile further up the Gorge Cascade Trail beyond the upper falls and take a right onto a blue-blazed trail. This blue-blazed trail will lead you past some very good outlooks on your left and will eventually bring you to the park's signature attraction: the stone tower. You can return the way you came or descend using one of several loop options to return to your car. A good trail map is available on the Sleeping Giant State Park website. Other good (and free) maps to the state park can also be found online.


From CT 15 in New Haven, take exit 60. Follow CT 10 north for 4.9 miles (bearing right at 0.7 mile and turning left at 1.7 mile to stay on CT 10 north) and take a right onto Tuttle Ave. Follow Tuttle Ave for 1.0 mile and there will be a small parking area on the right with room for three or four cars. Look for the red-circle blazes on the trail in front of the parking area to know that you have found the correct parking area as several trailheads exist along this road.



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 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


None noted.

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Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut
a view of the upper falls from the trail

Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut
the upper falls of Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut

Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut
the lower falls of Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut

Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut
the upper falls of Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut

Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut
the lower falls of Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut

Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut
the upper falls of Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut

Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut
the upper falls of Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut

Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut
the upper falls of Gorge Cascade Falls, Connecticut

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The 3rd edition of the New England Waterfalls guidebook contains 552-pages of detailed information on hundreds of waterfalls throughout all corners of New England. This 3rd edition has been completely updated and it is the first to be printed in FULL COLOR! Click on the image below to explore some sample pages of the guidebook on

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New England Waterfalls guidebook

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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.


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


In addition to the New England Waterfalls guidebook, there are several other guidebooks that can help you find waterfalls and swimming holes in this region:
  • Connecticut Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2014) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls in New England: A Guide to the Region's Best Waterfall Hikes (2nd Edition: 2022) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls Maine: A Guide to the State's Best Waterfall Hikes (1st Edition: 2020) = link
  • Vermont Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Waterfalls of the White Mountains: 30 Hikes to 100 Waterfalls (3rd Edition: 2019) = link


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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Feel free to ask a question, leave a comment, and/or provide an update relevant to this waterfall below.
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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 wary of slippery rocks. Never swim in pools above waterfalls. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! will not be held liable for your actions. Be safe out there - and always use common sense!

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