Ripley Falls

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

About Ripley Falls

Hiking Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2013-10-02
Date last visited: 2013-10-02

Waterfall Latitude: 44.16215
Waterfall Longitude: -71.39228

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Ripley Falls was one of the more unique waterfalls that I saw in the New England area.

What differentiated waterfall 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.

Ripley_Falls_033_10022013 - Ripley Falls
Ripley Falls

The sloping characteristic of the underlying smoothed out rock had enough of a slope to look like a legitimate 100ft tall waterfall.

Ripley Falls’ Mesmerizing Waterflow

Yet it wasn’t so steep that the water would lose contact with the rock (thereby yielding the mesmerizing flow patterns that constantly changed 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 on 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.

Ripley_Falls_023_10022013 - Rippling effects on the waterflow of Ripley Falls
Rippling effects on the waterflow of Ripley Falls

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 visit.

In fact, the trailhead parking 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 it for a few more hours.

Nevertheless, I decided to stick with the shorter 1.2-mile round trip hike from Ripley Falls’ own trailhead.

Hiking to Ripley Falls

Ripley_Falls_007_10022013 - Crossing the railroad tracks to continue hiking to Ripley Falls
Crossing the railroad tracks to continue hiking to Ripley Falls

From the Ripley Falls 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 Ripley Falls Trail because there were the odd rocks and protruding roots conspiring to twist my ankle or trip me up.

Ripley_Falls_009_10022013 - The Ripley Falls Trail continuing to climb beyond the railroad track crossing
The Ripley Falls Trail continuing to climb beyond the railroad track crossing

Eventually, the trail made a final descent that got me right in front of the impressive waterfall.

I still 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.

Nonetheless, 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.

However, as you can see from the photos on this web page, the views I was able to get were good enough.

Ripley_Falls_017_10022013 - Descending towards the bottom of Ripley Falls
Descending towards the bottom of Ripley Falls

When I was done experiencing the Ripley Falls, 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 parking lot.

On a final note, 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 I was able to do earlier this morning when I was burdened with carrying the weight of my daughter.

Ripley_Falls_031_10022013 - Making it up to the rocky plunge pool in front of Ripley Falls
Making it up to the rocky plunge pool in front of Ripley Falls

Thus, it only took me about 50 minutes to do the entire excursion, including all the time taking photographs.


Ripley Falls resides in the White Mountain National Forest near North Conway in Carroll 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.

Ripley_Falls_004_10022013 - The Ripley Falls Trail immediately started climbing up to some railroad tracks above
Ripley_Falls_008_10022013 - Crossing the railroad tracks to resume the Ripley Falls Trail
Ripley_Falls_010_10022013 - A cardboard sign indicating that I should stay left to resume the Ripley Falls Trail and not follow the Ethan Pond / Appalachian Trail on the right
Ripley_Falls_012_10022013 - Like the Arethusa Falls Trail, the Ripley Falls Trail also followed blue hashes
Ripley_Falls_013_10022013 - Continuing on the forested path leading to Ripley Falls
Ripley_Falls_016_10022013 - The Ripley Falls Trail was somewhat rooty and narrow in places, but it was quite manageable
Ripley_Falls_021_10022013 - Finally making it to the front of Ripley Falls
Ripley_Falls_029_10022013 - Long exposed look at the Ripley Falls
Ripley_Falls_034_10022013 - This was the blue hash and ascent that I needed to follow in order to leave Ripley Falls at the start of the return hike
Ripley_Falls_035_10022013 - Back at the sign and white blazes for the Appalachian Trail on the return hike from Ripley Falls

The turnoff and trailhead for Ripley Falls was about 2.3 miles northwest of the Arethusa Falls Road along the Hwy 302.

For directions on getting to Arethusa Falls from North Conway, see the Arethusa Falls page.

Ripley_Falls_001_10022013 - The Ripley Falls Trailhead parking area
The Ripley Falls Trailhead parking area

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.

Ripley_Falls_038_10022013 - Looking in the other direction towards the road entrance for the Ripley Falls Trailhead parking
Looking in the other direction towards the road entrance for the Ripley Falls Trailhead parking

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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Top down sweep of the falls

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Tagged with: white mountain, white mtn, national forest, crawford notch, carroll county, north conway, new hampshire, waterfall, new england, harts location

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning 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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