Sabbaday Falls

White Mountain National Forest / Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, USA

About Sabbaday Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.6 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 45 minutes

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

Waterfall Latitude: 43.99492
Waterfall Longitude: -71.39468

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Sabbaday Falls was a multi-tiered waterfall twisting within a narrow gorge that was said to be carved out from the last Ice Age. It was said to have a cumulative drop of 35ft though that seemed kind of harsh considering that there were at least two major tiers and even a small five-foot tier at the very top. Given the narrow nature of the gorge, I was never able to get an all-encompassing view of the entire waterfall from any one spot even though the trail passed by all of the waterfall’s drops. Instead, there was always part of the falls hidden from view so the end result was that the pictures really didn’t do this falls any justice.

At the base of the gorge, there was an attractive Emerald Pool that seemed very true to its name. With the pool contrasting with the gorge walls and the surrounding potholes and rocks fringed by Autumn foliage, it seemed like this pool very easily could’ve been a popular swimming spot if it wasn’t prohibited here. Then again, perhaps because it was prohibited that the water was clear enough to yield such clarity and color.

The falls was said to have gotten its name from workers who were working on a road connecting Albany Intervale to Waterville. One Saturday night, these workers decided to take a rest and come back the following Spring, and since their rest day started on Sunday, which was the Sabbath Day, they renamed this brook to “Sabbaday”. It was said the workers never returned to finish the work though the name persisted.

Sabbaday_Falls_024_10012013 - One of the partial views of Sabbaday Falls along the trail
One of the partial views of Sabbaday Falls along the trail

In keeping with the theme of rest, this waterfall also kind of served as an early afternoon rest stop for us as our daughter was taking her afternoon siesta while I welcomed the break from the long drive between Stowe, VT and Conway, NH. But it was because our daughter was sleeping (thus Julie had to stay with her) that I ended up doing this hike solo even though it was a pretty family-friendly excursion.

From the very busy car park (it was just about full when we showed up in the early afternoon on an Autumn day in October), I followed a flat trail that followed along the Sabbaday Brook. Barely 1/4-mile into the hike, I reached the Emerald Pool, which also had some interpretive signs before it so I knew exactly what I was seeing here. Going around the Emerald Pool into part of the gorge next to it, I was able to look upstream and see part of Sabbaday Falls noisily dropping and continuing to make this gorge deeper over time.

I couldn’t proceed any further on this slippery and potentially treacherous part of the gorge so I went back to the main trail, where it now climbed up some steps and boardwalks alongside the rim of the gorge. There were plenty of places to stop and look over the gorge as well as getting views across the main two tiers of Sabbaday Falls from a variety of angles. After crossing over one of the bridges near the top of the trail, I was able to get closer to the smaller uppermost third tier of the falls while also looking down over the main falls into the gorge.

It seemed like the trail kept going beyond the waterfall, but I was content to get to the second bridge where there was supposed to be an overlook back into the gorge and the falls. Unfortunately, that view was mostly overgrown and not nearly as interesting as the views I was able to get from the gorge-hugging trail itself.

With the shadows, I needed to take long exposure photos. Since I was too lazy to bring a tripod with me on this short excursion, I was relieved to see that I could use the railings along the trail to keep the camera still. As you can see in the photos on this page, they weren’t as blurry as they could’ve been if I had to hold my breath and try to hold still while taking photos.

All in all, it took me about 45 minutes to cover the 0.6 miles round trip. It was a pretty relaxing experience, and I felt recharged enough to do the final leg of the drive towards Conway.

Sabbaday_Falls_001_10012013 - The car park for Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday_Falls_004_10012013 - A nice flat and forested path preceded the gorge
Sabbaday_Falls_009_10012013 - The trail followed the Sabbaday Brook the entire way
Sabbaday_Falls_018_10012013 - My first look at the aptly-named Emerald Pool
Sabbaday_Falls_019_10012013 - Beyond the Emerald Pool, the trail then went up some stairs to the rim of the gorge
Sabbaday_Falls_023_10012013 - The two main tiers of Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday_Falls_030_10012013 - Direct view of the upper main drop of Sabbaday Falls with a smaller punchbowl-like waterfall at the very top
Sabbaday_Falls_040_10012013 - Looking downstream at the two main drops of Sabbaday Falls and its gorge
Sabbaday_Falls_042_10012013 - Looking back at the context of the gorge and walkway alongside it
Sabbaday_Falls_051_10012013 - Last look at the uppermost tiers of Sabbaday Falls as I was making my way back down
Sabbaday_Falls_057_10012013 - Following the same trail I took up on the way back down
Sabbaday_Falls_059_10012013 - Last look at Sabbaday Falls from the Emerald Pool


We drove to Sabbaday Falls after visiting the Flume so we’ll first describe the directions from there before describing the directions from North Conway, which was perhaps the largest town in this part of New Hampshire.

After leaving The Flume, we drove south on the I-93 towards Lincoln, where we left the I-93 and went east on the Hwy 112. We then drove for about 20 miles (30 minutes drive) before reaching the well-signed and busy parking area for the falls on our right.

Leaving from North Conway, we would drive south for 6 miles on the Hwy 302 towards the town of Conway, then we would head west on the Hwy 112 just as we headed west out of town. Continuing west along the Hwy 112, we would reach the parking lot for Sabbaday Falls on our left after about 16 miles (30 minutes).

To provide you with a sense of geographical context, Lincoln was 92 miles (2 hours drive) east of Stowe, VT, 42 miles (about an hour drive) west of North Conway, 130 miles (2 hours drive) north of Boston, MA, and 190 miles (3 hours drive) southeast of Montreal, QC, Canada.

Bottom up sweep looking down at the gorge before ending at the falls

Right to left sweep from the top of the falls looking into the gorge

Right to left sweep starting with a partial view of the falls then ending at the Emerald Pool

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Tagged with: white mountain, white mtn, national forest, waterville valley, grafton county, new hampshire, north conway, waterfall, new england, emerald pool

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