Ever have one of those perfect days where everything just comes together in a cosmic landslide of wonderfulness?
I just had one of those days chasing waterfalls and exploring Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire.
My backstory with New Hampshire:
My parents, as part of their retirement, decided to retire north to New Hampshire where they lived for about 20 years. Throughout those years, I would bring my children to visit their grandparents as my free time and budget would allow. Even though I was in New Hampshire fairly regularly we tended to just visit, and did very little exploring beyond the area of their home. My parents eventually moved to Florida once the harsh New England winters became a bit too much for them. Now when I go to New Hampshire, I get to explore like a true tourist.
Initial Spark of Inspirational to Explore:
When my boyfriend said on a Wednesday, “Hey, look at this place, Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire. I really want to go there.” My immediate reaction was, “Sure, let’s go on Sunday!”and that’s just what we did.
The Journey North:
From where we live in Connecticut, it was a little under a four hour drive to Crawford Notch State Park, located in Hart’s Location (yes that’s the name of the town) New Hampshire. We packed an awesome picnic and left in the morning, early(ish) for me. There were a couple of routes we could have taken, but I knew immediately that the route straight up Interstate 91 North was definitely the way to go. It was a beautiful ride. There was some construction in Springfield Massachusetts that always makes that portion of the trip a little challenging. Once we passed Springfield, it was an absolutely beautiful and very relaxed ride. The leaves on the trees were filled in with wonderful luciousness of green and the mountains were in all their early summer glory. If you are traveling this route take a few minutes out and visit the Vermont State rest area just over the Massachusetts Vermont State line on I91 North. It is worth the stop.
As we approached Crawford Notch State Park, there were a lot of bed and breakfast places and quaint little Inns along the way. This State Park is also part of the White Mountain National Forest and in the shadow of Mount Washington. If you go to this area take the Cog Railroad up to the top of the Mount Washington. Be warned that if you drive up Mount Washington, go downhill in your lowest gear, otherwise you stand a good chance of burning up your brakes.
Crawford Notch State Park, Something for Everyone:
Crawford Notch State Park is so beautiful. In my not so humble opinion, Crawford Notch State Park rivals many small national parks and maybe a few large ones.
There is something for everyone to enjoy at Crawford Notch State Park.
Love to hike? They have it covered, Love to take photographs? They have it covered. Love to picnic? They have that covered. Love to trail ride your bicycle or ATV? They have that covered too. Do you just want to enjoy nature from your car or do you have mobility issues? They have that covered. Love waterfalls? They have that covered.
As we drove into the park, there was a wayside or parking lot on the left. It was a nice little park sitting on a pond along the Saco River overlooking a tranquil pond area. There were picnic tables for your picnicing enjoyment. The pond contained some happy and well fed ducks. The park provides duck food in a despensor that costs a quarter. Remember, please do not feed the ducks bread or leftovers because that type of food is not nutritionally balanced or healthy for the them. Also provided there was a comfort station (portopotty) for your bio-needs.
Drive by waterfalls:
As we were driving along the road that cuts through the state park, there were two waterfalls that could be viewed right from the road. They are named the Silver Cascade and the Flume Cascade. Conveniently, there are parking areas right across the street from each of these two cascades.
Cascade vs Waterfall:
To me they are all Waterfalls. Just in case you were wondering what the difference between a cascade and a waterfall is, Please see this article. I think the author explains it beautifully.
Having the opportunity to be a trail angel:
After taking the pictures of the two Cascades, we made our way down the road to the parking area for Ripley’s Falls.
As we were turning into the parking area, there were two men that had just gotten off the Appalachian Trail. (like to through hike the Appalachian Trail? Yea, they have that covered.) The men needed a ride down the street to the local convenience store and campground.
We gave them the ride. I was thankful that the back of the car was cleaned out enough to fit the two men and their backpacks.
One of the men was from Switzerland and the other was from Kentucky. It was cool to meet these guys and talk about their experience on the trail. The man from Switzerland was through hiking the trail and had started in March in Georgia. The gentleman from Kentucky was doing a flip flop hike, he started in Kentucky and headed North and once he gets to the end on Mount Katahdin in Maine, he will go back to Kentucky and go south to Georgia. Our time together was cut short as we got to their destination. We dropped the two men off and wished them well on their travels and made our way back to Ripley’s Falls.
When going to Ripley Falls be aware that there are two parking lots. An upper one and a lower one. When you turn into the area you might be enticed to park in the lower lot but go up the hill and see if you can find a spot in the upper lot. It will save you a half mile all uphill walk, unless of course you want to do the half mile all uphill walk, then by all means enjoy! The trail is only a half mile most of it up hill.
The trail is very Rocky with lots of old growth tree roots. There were also squishy spots along the trail. I think this trail is very boot worthy. I had my sneakers on and I was sorry I did not have my boots. I passed a whole family wearing flip flops as well as met up with one woman who was sporting substantial heels on her boots that she wears when she rides on her boyfriend’s motorcycle. So you could wear other things on your feet but all in all though, I suggest that proper hiking footwear is required.
Ripley’s falls were definitely worth the hike. They were very large and beautiful. Even though it was July and many waterfalls in New England are down to a trickle. Ripley’s falls did not disappoint.
Arethusa Falls – although we were running out of time and had to go back home, we missed going to Arethusa Falls. Based upon the online pictures of this waterfall it’s really something to see. Unfortunately it will take a much bigger effort to get to the falls. It is a rigorous 2.8 mile walk from the parking area. At my pokey pace, there was no way that we’d make it there and back to the car before dark.
On the way back we wanted to stop for ice cream and saw a sign for an ice cream shop. We turned into the business only to find it closed for the day. It was in the same building as a artist shop called the Indian River Trading Company that seemed to specialize in impressive fantastical steampunk sculptures. They were also closed but they had artwork outdoors and you can see through the glass windows to see more. It was amazing stuff.
I noticed from the Crawford Notch State Park website that there are trails specifically reserved for ATV usage as well. If you love to go off-road on an ATV, they have that covered.
If you find yourself in this part of the world put Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire on the list, it will be worth the trip.