Here in northern New Hampshire, we usually have a respectable covering of snow by mid-December. However, such was not the case in December 2015. And so, I took advantage of our weirdly warm-weather by doing a short hike to Winniweta Falls, as well as to some smaller cascades above the main falls. Plus, I also did a little off-trail exploration along a portion of an unnamed tributary that joins Miles Brook just a hundred feet east of Winniweta Falls.
The route that I followed for this trek is highlighted in yellow on the topographic map shown below.
|The route that I followed for this trek is highlighted in yellow.|
As anyone knows who has hiked to Winniweta Falls from the Rt. 16 trailhead, you need to ford the Ellis River. I came prepared for this with my Neos Trekker Overshoes which are seen in the composite photo shown below.
|Neos Trekker Overshoes|
The overshoes extend high (20") on your calf which keeps your feet dry for water depths less than 20 inches. On my crossing of the Ellis River in mid-December, the water depth came precariously close to exceeding the 20 inches!
A pair of these overshoes weighs just under 2 lbs, and they fold down to a shape roughly measuring 6"x12"x2". On sale, they can be found online for under $70. I received these as a gift a couple years ago, and have found them really useful, especially in colder weather months when barefoot fording of a brook/river is dangerously cold.
The hike to Winniweta Falls from the Rt. 16 trailhead is only about 0.9 mile. However, the falls can be a bit tricky to find. On this trip, and on a previous trip to this destination, there has been no signage to direct you to the faintly visible spur path that leads from the main trail down to the waterfall. Although the falls are about 30 ft. tall, it is difficult to spot them from the main trail. It's more likely that you will hear them before you see them.
And so, perhaps the best advice is to start looking for the spur path to the falls (off to your left) at about 20 minutes or so after you've forded the Ellis River. Otherwise, you might miss the falls and continue hiking the main trail that continues uphill for quite a distance to eventually join the Hall XC-ski Trail.
An search of the Internet will provide you with better images of Winniweta Falls, nonetheless shown below is a snapshot taken on my trek to this location in mid-December 2015.
Just a bit further upstream from Winniweta Falls, there are some cascades that are smaller, but still picturesque. Shown below are two photos taken of these smaller cascades.
|Cascades further upstream from Winniweta Falls|
|Another photo of cascades further upstream from Winniweta Falls|
As mentioned at the top of this report, I also did a little off-trail exploration of a tributary that joins Miles Brook just a few hundred feet east of Winniweta Falls. This tributary is located in a narrow V-shaped corridor that is highly eroded. It's likely that most of this erosion occurred as a result of Tropical Storm Irene which devastated this area in August 2011.
The erosion can be seen in the composite photo which consists of a recent Google Earth image, as well as a snapshot taken during my exploration of the tributary. It's interesting that older Google Earth images do not show the "washout". This likely confirms that the severe erosion occurred within recent years.
|Composite photo showing erosion along unnamed tributary that joins Miles Brook|
And shown below is one last snapshot. While exploring the unnamed tributary to Miles Brook, I came across this beautiful bracket fungi (Ganoderma tsugae), known as "hemlock varnish shelf". Click HERE to read more about it.
|Bracket fungi (Ganoderma tsugae) seen while exploring unnamed tributary to Miles Brook|
To sum it up, the hike to Winniweta Falls is short. And as such, it can easily be combined with one or more of the many fine hikes that are available in the vicinity of scenic Jackson, NH. Also, it should be noted that although I used Neos Trekker Overshoes to ford the Ellis River on this trek, there are times during warm-weather months when water levels are low enough to wade across the river barefooted, or rock-hop without removing your footwear.