Crystal Cascade

White Mountain National Forest / Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, USA

About Crystal Cascade


Hiking Distance: 0.6 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 35 minutes

Date first visited: 2013-10-01
Date last visited: 2013-10-01

Waterfall Latitude: 44.2616
Waterfall Longitude: -71.25915

Crystal Cascade was perhaps the one waterfall on our New England trip that totally exceeded my expectations.

It was a two-tiered waterfall that possessed a shape and character about it that made it very photogenic.

Crystal_Cascade_NH_033_10012013 - Crystal Cascade
Crystal Cascade

As you can see in the photograph above, it was also flanked by beautiful Autumn foliage to add a little color to the scenery.

Even though the total height of the falls was a modest 100ft (with the upper tier being about 70ft), I decided to bump up its scenic score to 3.

After all, this waterfall was simply too pleasing to the eye to put it amongst other waterfalls that I had generally given 2.5.

After having visited Crystal Cascade, I found it hard to believe that our pre-trip research indicated that this was actually an overlooked waterfall!

Hiking to Crystal Cascade

Crystal_Cascade_NH_005_10012013 - Starting the hike to Crystal Cascade along the Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Starting the hike to Crystal Cascade along the Tuckerman Ravine Trail

The trail began from the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center (see directions below).

Just to the left of it were signs leading to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail as well as another sign saying the Crystal Cascade was only 10 minutes away.

Apparently, it was the Tuckerman Ravine Trail (which coincided with the waterfall trail as well as the Appalachian Trail) that was the very trail that would’ve led up to the summit of Mt Washington.

Anyways, I followed this forested trail, which was mostly flat or gently uphill before it I had to stay left where the trail split with the Appalachian Trail.

Crystal_Cascade_NH_012_10012013 - Looking upstream towards an intermediate cascade beneath a footbridge while hiking up to the Crystal Cascade
Looking upstream towards an intermediate cascade beneath a footbridge while hiking up to the Crystal Cascade

Then, the trail started to noticeably climb a little more as it started to follow along the Ellis River (i.e. the same river that gave rise to the Glen Ellis Falls further downstream).

Eventually, the trail crossed over a bridge traversing the Ellis River (the trail became the Tuckerman Ravine Trail at this point, I believe).

Then, it climbed a bit more before I noticed an unsigned spur trail on the right with steps.

Once I got up the steps, I saw the stone rock wall before me, and that was when I finally saw the impressive Crystal Cascade over it.

Given that it was late in the day, I was the only one enjoying this waterfall.

Crystal_Cascade_NH_021_10012013 - Gently ascending on the rocky trail leading up to the lookout for the Crystal Cascade
Gently ascending on the rocky trail leading up to the lookout for the Crystal Cascade

However, if there would be other people around, I could see that the optimal viewing positions were limited.

So I’m sure that it could easily get crowded and require some waiting to get the choice photos.

The out-and-back hike took me about 35 minutes (0.6 miles) round trip.

Mt Washington and Crystal Cascade

Apparently, most visitors to the Pinkham Notch do the hike to the summit of Mt Washington without even bothering to check out this waterfall.

The falls was on a spur path that climbed up to the stone-walled lookout yielding the view you see in the picture at the top of this page.

Crystal_Cascade_NH_037_10012013 - Full view of the attractive Crystal Cascade as seen from the overlook
Full view of the attractive Crystal Cascade as seen from the overlook

I guess I never really had to worry so much about overlooking this waterfall because I had started the hike very late in the day at 5:30pm.

So I really had no intentions of going up Mt Washington with our two-year-old daughter traveling with us on this trip anyways.

Whether I missed out on something special or not, I guess I’ll never know unless I come back one of these days.

Authorities

Crystal Cascade resides in the White Mountain National Forest near North Conway in Coos County, New Hampshire. It is administered by the US Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Crystal_Cascade_NH_004_10012013 - Looking at the entrance to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.  Notice the walkway to the left.  That's the way to the trail for Crystal Cascade
Crystal_Cascade_NH_007_10012013 - Walking in a wooded area when I left the buildings of the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center area behind and headed towards the Crystal Cascade
Crystal_Cascade_NH_010_10012013 - Going past a sign imploring me to respect the ravines.  I got the feeling this sign was meant more for the Tuckerman Ravine Trail though I'm sure it could apply to any ravine
Crystal_Cascade_NH_022_10012013 - After making it up to the stone wall at the overlook, I got this view of the Crystal Cascade
Crystal_Cascade_NH_025_10012013 - Another look at the beautiful Crystal Cascade
Crystal_Cascade_NH_030_10012013 - This photo was taken from a slightly different spot along the stone wall and right away the lower drop of Crystal Cascade became concealed behind the foliage
Crystal_Cascade_NH_039_10012013 - Looking downstream from the footbridge crossing over the Ellis River as I was heading back from the Crystal Cascade overlook
Crystal_Cascade_NH_044_10012013 - Looking back at the footbridge crossing over the Glen Ellis River

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This hike to Crystal Cascade begins from the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

Its parking lot is about 0.6 miles north of the Glen Ellis Falls Road turnoff on Hwy 16.

Crystal_Cascade_NH_001_10012013 - Looking in one direction along the large parking lot for the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, which was the trailhead for the Crystal Cascade
Looking in one direction along the large parking lot for the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, which was the trailhead for the Crystal Cascade

Heading north on the highway, the well-signed AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center parking lot is on the left.

That said, we’ll reproduce the driving directions leaving from North Conway on this page.

From where the Hwy 16 and Hwy 302 meet at the southern end of North Conway, follow the White Mountain Hwy (Hwy 302) north for about 8 miles.

At the traffic light where Hwy 302 and Hwy 16 split up once again, turn right to stay continue on Hwy 16.

Crystal_Cascade_NH_002_10012013 - Looking in the other direction from the parking lot for the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and the trailhead for Crystal Cascade
Looking in the other direction from the parking lot for the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and the trailhead for Crystal Cascade

Then, follow Hwy 16 north for about 17 miles (passing through Jackson) until there’s a signposted turnoff for the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center on the left.

For geographical context, North Conway was 11 miles west of Fryeburg, Maine, 42 miles (over an hour drive) east of Lincoln, 63 miles (90 minutes drive) northwest of Portland, Maine, 136 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) north of Boston, Massachusetts, and 214 miles (over 3.5 hours drive) southeast of Montreal, QC, Canada.

Bottom up sweep of the impressive waterfalls

Tagged with: white mountain, white mtn, national forest, jackson, pinkham notch, coos county, north conway, new hampshire, waterfall, new england, mt washington, mount washington, appalachian trail, tuckerman ravine



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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