Ripley Falls was one of the more unique waterfalls I saw in the New England area. What differentiated this one from most of the others was that it featured a slide that somewhat twisted on its way down while yielding somewhat interesting curtain patterns in the waterflow. The sloping characteristic of the underlying smoothed out rock had enough of a slope to look like a legitimate 100ft tall waterfall yet wasn’t so steep that the water would lose contact with the rock (thereby yielding the mesmerizing flow patterns that constantly change with time). This mesmerizing waterflow action would probably best be appreciated when looking at one of the videos we’ve included further down on this page.
In addition to the waterfow, I also noticed that the Fall colors and the somewhat orangish hue to the rock face added a bit of color to the scene even on a day when the skies were heavily overcast and muted out the sunlight. Even though Arethusa Falls deservedly gets most of the publicity and attention, Ripley Falls had enough character and uniqueness in its own right to warrant a separate visit. In fact, the car park was quite full on the day that I showed up to do this hike. In addition, Arethusa Falls could also be combined with this hike if you want to extend the hike for a few more hours, but I decided to stick with the shorter 1.2-mile round trip hike from Ripley Falls’ own car park.
From the trailhead (see directions below), the trail immediately made me ascend as it was on its way up to some railroad tracks that I had to cross. On the other side of the tracks, the trail continued climbing before flattening out somewhat. During the ascent, I saw the trail forked where the Ripley Falls Trail kept left while the Ethan Pond Trail veered right and coincided with the Appalachian Trail. I also had to be careful with the footing on the trail because there were the odd rocks and protruding roots conspiring to twist my ankle or trip me up.
Eventually, the trail made a final descent that got me right in front of the impressive waterfall though I had to scramble a bit amongst the large boulders flanking the Avalanche Brook for an improved view that wasn’t as subject to foliage obstructions above. I didn’t do too much awkward scrambling to see what other possibilities there might have been in terms of changing up the view of the falls, but as you can see from the photos on this web page, the views I was able to get were good enough.
When I was done experiencing the waterfall, I almost got lost following what I thought were obvious paths going further downstream. But when the trail became less obvious, I then realized that the blue blazes were back by the waterfall and that the trail climbed before it was all downhill again on the way back to the car park.
I did this hike solo because our daughter took her afternoon siesta and Julie had to watch her. So I was able to go faster than earlier this morning when I was burdened with carrying the weight of my daughter. Thus, it only took me about 50 minutes to do the entire excursion, including all the time taking photographs.
That said, I’ll reproduce the directions from North Conway since the directions are straightforward enough.
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 at Bartlett, turn left to stay continue on Hwy 302. Then, follow Hwy 302 due west then north for about 16.8 miles until there’s a signposted turnoff on the left for Ripley Falls.
Once I got onto the turnoff, I drove a very short distance uphill to the road’s end where there was limited space for trailhead parking. Overall, this drive would be about 25 miles taking around 45 minutes.
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.
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