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09 March 2017

A Winter Visit to Arethusa Falls


With a drop of nearly 200-ft Arethusa Falls is regarded by many as the highest single-drop waterfall in New Hampshire.  It was discovered around 1875.  The name comes from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem describing the story of a nymph named Arethusa who was turned into a fountain to avoid being the love conquest of the river god Alpheus.

One afternoon in late February 2017, a couple of free hours became available to me.  I used this time to do a short hike (about 3 miles, round-trip) to Arethusa Falls via a combination of the Bemis Brook Trail and the Arethusa Falls Trail.

Arethusa Falls is a very popular, and somewhat touristy, destination during the warm-weather months.  However, during the dead of winter when the waterfall is transformed into a wall of ice, it is frequented by daring climbers who come equipped to scale the frozen falls.

When I did my trek to Arethusa Falls in late February, there had been a few consecutive days of unseasonably warm weather which prompted me to visit the falls to see if the warming trend had produced some thawing and subsequent flow of water.

(Click HERE to access a website containing additional information about Arethusa Falls, as well as other waterfalls throughout New England.)


Before presenting photos taken during my late February 2017 trek, perhaps it will be helpful to view a map that shows the location of this short hike.

The route for my hike to Arethusa Falls is highlighted in yellow.
(Unfortunately, there was insufficient time to extend this hike by another 2 miles to do a loop involving Frankenstein Cliff.)
You will note that the Bemis Brook Trail was incorporated into my trek.  Some hikers will ignore this side-trip and simply head straight for Arethusa Falls by staying on the Arethusa Falls Trail.  However, I like to include this short ramble along Bemis Brook since it allows you to enjoy a series of smaller cascades that serve as a fitting prelude to the larger and more dramatic Arethusa Falls.

Shown below are photos taken on an unusually warm winter day in late February 2017.  These snapshots include the three named water features along the Bemis Brook Trail, as well as a photo of the more celebrated Arethusa Falls.
Fawn Pool

Coliseum Falls
Bemis Brook Falls
Arethusa Falls
And lastly, while munching on some peanuts, this squirrel gingerly approached me for a handout.  Probably made his day when a few nuts were gently tossed in his direction!


One Day in America said...

I can always count on your blog to get my "waterfall fix". What a beautiful spot! Even though this hike was short, it was still sweet. And isn't it great to have it all to yourself in February?
Great post John! (Love the little squirrel too.)

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Am pleased to know that this blog posting provided you with a “waterfall fix”! (smile)

And regarding your comment about having the waterfall all to myself, there is a short story associated with that. When I arrived at the trailhead parking lot, there were a half-dozen or so cars parked there which was somewhat unexpected for mid-week on a day in winter. And so, I fully expected to have lots of company upon my arrival at Arethusa Falls. However, much to my surprise, there was no one there. And when I returned to the parking lot, all the cars were gone.

So, maybe I missed all the hiker traffic by taking the side trip along the Bemis Brook Trail. And perhaps everyone who was at Arethusa had made their way back to the parking lot while I was hiking that side trail. Very odd, and somewhat comical!


Matt M said...

Great Report John. I made the mistake of skipping the Bemis Brook Trail when I visited in summer a few years ago, next time I go back I'll make sure to include it.

Also, please keep the trip reports coming, I enjoy reading them even if I don't comment.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Matt,

Thanks for letting me know that you enjoy reading my blog postings. And trust me, I do know what you mean regarding being a bit lax about posting comments. There are many great hiking blogs out there that I regularly read, but likewise, I seldom post comments. :-)