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Shelburne, New Hampshire

RATING: 2.5 / 5.0 stars (Good) Rattle River Falls, New Hampshire (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Shelburne
PARK: White Mountain National Forest
TYPE: Slides
HEIGHT: 12-foot total drop
WATER SOURCE: Rattle River
TRAIL LENGTH: 1.7 miles one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy side of moderate
HIKING TIME: 60 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 500 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: May to October
SWIMMING: Excellent
DELORME ATLAS: 2005: Page 49, I-10 (the falls are not marked on the NH atlas)
2015: Page 44, C-3 (the falls are not marked on the NH/VT atlas)
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: Falls on Rattle River
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 44.400888, -71.109499
GPS-WATERFALL: 44.380255, -71.108054 (estimated)
COMPASS: XX° excluding declination (the falls face XXX)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included within the appendix of the guidebook
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I love waterfalls that have campsites nearby. I love waterfalls that that have both campsites and swimming holes nearby even more. The combination of camping and swimming holes is like mixing two treasured childhood pastimes. What is better than that? The swimming holes you will find here are some of the most attractive ones you will find near any shelter along the 2,150-plus mile Appalachian Trail. The best swimming hole is found in a giant pothole in the middle of the falls about 200 feet from the shelter. With clear, deep water-and enough room for up to eight swimmers-this pool is sure to delight all who are willing to brave its cold water. Attractive granite surrounds the pool, with gorge walls eight feet high on the far side of the river. I did not measure the depth of the pool, but it seemed like there was some potential for cliff diving here.

The falls found here are primarily made up of long slides and small cascades. The total vertical drop is about 12 feet, but it is spread over about 75 feet of river. None of the falls are particularly notable, but as a complete package they are scenic enough to warrant a visit. The angles of the slides are low enough that there may be some ride-able natural waterslides here too under the right water conditions. I did not test this theory during my visit though, so I cannot confirm this. The best way to visit this falls is to stay at the free shelter (it's actually a lean-to) that is on site. There is room for up to eight people here (although six will fit more comfortably), with some additional places to tent camp if the shelter is full. More information can be found here:


From the parking area, follow the white-blazed Rattle River Trail (this is also the Appalachian Trail) south as it gradually climbs over relatively easy terrain for 1.7 miles and you will reach the Rattle River Shelter on your left. When you do reach the shelter, take a right onto a spur trail and follow it 100 feet down to the edge of the river. You will immediately find the first of several swimming holes here. Head right and downstream along the river's edge for 100 feet (do not walk in the woods as it is currently a re-vegetation area) and you will find the falls and the premier swimming holes. The lowermost swimming hole on this river is found at the base of the falls.

There is also a less attractive swimming hole a few tenths of a mile upstream of the shelter. Take the Rattle River Trail south as it continues to climb gradually. The final swimming hole is found on your left shortly after the trail crosses the river, which can be difficult in high water. In my opinion, this swimming hole is not worth the extra effort involved in reaching it.


From the junction of NH 16 and US-2 in Gorham, take US-2 east for 3.6 miles and you will find a dirt parking lot on the right for the Appalachian Trail.

To get to Gorham, take NH 16 north from North Conway or US-2 west from Bethel, Maine.



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


You can hike to the summit of Mt. Moriah from the Rattle River Trail. Take the Rattle River Trail to a right turn onto the Kenduskeag Trail and then turn right onto the Carter-Moriah Trail for a short distance to the summit. Mt. Moriah offers great views from the summit, and this is an interesting (although tough) hike overall. This is a 11.6 mile round-trip hike with about 3,400 of elevation gain. You can shorten the hike a bit if you have a second car or are willing to hitchhike to or from the Carter-Moriah Trailhead on Bangor Street in Gorham or the Stony Brook Trail trailhead on NH 16.

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Rattle River Falls, New Hampshire
Rattle River Falls, New Hampshire

Rattle River Falls, New Hampshire
Rattle River Falls, New Hampshire

Mt. Moriah, New Hampshire
Strong hikers can use the Rattle River Trail to day hike all the way to Mt. Moriah and back

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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

Over 30,000 copies sold!

also available on...

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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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And if you'd like to follow the New England Waterfalls page on Facebook, click here.


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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