This waterfall was a complete shock. Dryad Fall is notorious for being highly seasonal. This may be true, but this is a must see during high run off times. When water is flowing well, there is a steady stream of water that starts out as a horsetail before fanning into a slide below. As an additional benefit, there are impressive views of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains seen from the base of the falls.
Some say that Dryad Fall is in excess of 300 feet, and given the drops visible from the trail and the steep terrain above, this appears to be true. Please note only 55 feet of this impressive waterfall is visible from the trail-hence the reason as to why this waterfall has not earned a higher level of recommendation. There are two trailheads that serve this waterfall. This waterfall is worth the 0.8 mile hike from the trailhead on Mill Brook Rd, but less rewarding if you must traveling 2.9 miles from North Rd. As a final note, Dryad Falls can be difficult to photograph, but a wide-angle lens shot from he base of the falls can certainly help.
Take note that this trail information is likely to be outdated. I would consult the latest edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide for updated information.
The trail length and altitude change of your hike will depend upon which of the two trailheads you have parked at (see directions, below). Be aware that Austin Brook and Mill Brook are different names in common use for the same water source.
If you have parked on North Rd. your hike will be 2.9 miles with 1100 feet of elevation gain. To begin, walk across the street and pass through the hikers turnstile. Continue hiking for 1.1 miles and you will reach Mill Brook Rd, a dirt road in which the trail begins to follow. Some maps and guidebooks often call this road the Austin Brook Trail (instead of Mill Brook Rd) from this point forward. Turn left and hike along the road for 0.1 mile where you will need to bear left at a fork. Hike for another 0.1 mile and you will reach a second fork after crossing a bridge; take the right option this time. From here, continue hiking along the road until you reach several large boulders, which actually outline the alternative trailhead described below. At this point, you are about 2.1 miles into the hike. Refer to the trail information below to reach the falls from this alternative parking area.
If you have parked on the alternative trailhead off Mill Brook Rd, your hike will be 0.8 mile with 650 feet of elevation gain. To start this hike, walk past the boulders and across a small brook. Do not take the skidder road to the left before the boulders; be sure to continue up Mill Brook Rd. After a few hundred yards the road turns left at a well-marked junction. Continue hiking for 0.3 mile beyond this point and you will come to a fork with the yellow-blazed Dryad Fall Trail. Fork left and follow this trail for 0.4 mile where you will find a small sign currently pointing left to Dryad Fall. Hike down less than 100 feet to the exposed waterfall in front of you. There is a commanding view of the White Mountains to the left here as well.
From the junction of US-2 and NH 16 in Gorham, take US-2 east for 3.4 miles and take a left onto North Rd. How far you will drive on North Rd will depend upon which of two available trailheads that you aim to park at.
One of the trailheads is a parking pull-off on the right after driving 3.2 miles west on North Rd. This is the parking area for the start of the Austin Brook Trail, and it is used if the alternative trailhead is not available for public use (due to a road gate that may be locked). Across the street from this pull-off is a turnstile indicating that the area is private property but that hiker access is allowed. Although this section of the Austin Brook Trail is a fine hike, you may want to consider using the alternative trailhead as it reduces the amount of hiking considerably.
To reach this alternative trailhead, continue 0.5 mile further east along North Rd. from the first trailhead and take a left onto Mill Brook Rd. You are now 3.7 miles from where you left US-2. If the gate on Mill Brook Rd is open and public access appears allowed, drive on Mill Brook Rd for 1.5 miles and fork left. There is a currently a small sign saying “AMC Trail” at this fork. Drive another 0.1 mile and fork right onto the Austin Brook Trail, which is an actual road here. There is current a carved sign here as well, but it is difficult to read. Drive along the Austin Brook Trail road until you can drive no further as it is blocked by boulders and park on the shoulder of the road. If the gate on Mill Brook Rd is closed, return back to the original Austin Brook Trail parking pull-off on North Rd, 0.5 mile west of Mill Brook Rd.
To get to Gorham, take NH 16 north from Conway, US-2 east from Jefferson, or US-2 west from Bethel, Maine.
UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION
I am hearing reports that a trail bridge is out, making access to this waterfall difficult when water levels are high. I have also heard that the directions in the 2nd Edition of the guidebook are no longer 100% accurate.
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 email@example.com 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
INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?
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 Amazon.com.
TIPS FOR VISITING WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES
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
OTHER WATERFALL GUIDEBOOKS
In addition to the New England Waterfalls guidebook, there are several other guidebooks that can help you find waterfalls and swimming holes:
- Vermont Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2015) = link
- Hiking Waterfalls in New England: A Guide to the Region's Best Waterfall Hikes (1st Edition: 2015) = link
- Waterfalls of the White Mountains: 30 Hikes to 100 Waterfalls (2nd Edition: 1999) = link
- Connecticut Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2014) = link
- Rodrick's Guide to Vermont Waterfalls, Cascades & Gorges (1st Edition: 2014) = link
WATERFALLS ON FACEBOOK
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
And if you'd like to follow the New England Waterfalls page on Facebook, click here.
ASK A QUESTION / LEAVE A COMMENT / PROVIDE AN UPDATE:
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