Melting mountain snow and spring rains mix to form particularly spectacular waterfalls in the spring. It’s for that reason that experts call this time of year waterfall season. And lucky for us in New England, there’s no shortage of cascading waters to visit in the region.
We asked local experts to share their favorites.
Arethusa Falls in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Charyl Reardon, marketing and operations manager for the White Mountains Attractions Association, said a New Hampshire waterfall named after a Greek mythological nymph is one of her favorites this time of year.
Reardon said Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch State Park — in Hart’s Location on Route 302 — is most impressive during spring’s waterfall season because of the additional surge of water from the melting snow in the mountains. The falls are nearly 200 feet high and billed as the highest falls in the state.
It takes about an hour to hike the moderate Arethusa Falls Trail to the falls, according to Reardon. Once there, visitors can swim in the water.
“As you approach it, it’s just the vastness of it and looking up at the rock ledges and the water coming off,” Reardon said. “The fact that you can be so close to nature and, when it’s rushing, you can feel the pounding of that water coming down. It’s just a really nice surge of energy for yourself and refreshing. It’s just a really exciting waterfall.”
Arethusa Falls were discovered in 1875 by Edward Tuckerman, who, according to the White Mountains Attractions Association, named the falls after Arethusa, a mythological nymph who turned into a fountain.
Visitors can also hike, fish, and camp in the 5,775-acre park. There is no admission fee, and parking is free.
Bash Bish Falls in Mount Washington, Massachusetts
Bash Bish Falls, the highest single-drop waterfall in the state, is a great spot to visit, according to Francois Nivaud, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. You’ll find it in the southwest corner of the state at Bash Bish Falls State Park in Berkshire County’s Mount Washington.
“Massachusetts has superb state parks and vast conservation lands that are perfect for summer explorations, like Bash Bish Falls State Park, which features a stunning 60-foot waterfall,” Nivaud wrote in an emailed statement.
“I would say it’s the best waterfall in the state,” said Paul Antoniazzi, park supervisor at Bash Bish Falls State Park. “It’s spectacular. It’s gorgeous.”
Visitors can no longer hike around the falls due to safety concerns, Antoniazzi said. In fact, a man died last year after slipping from a rock. The location where the tragedy occurred was in a section of the park that has been closed for years, according to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation. After that incident, however, officials closed additional areas they consider dangerous.
Guests can still view the falls while spending time at a sitting area at the base, Antoniazzi said. Visitors can also follow the signs from the parking lot that say “scenic view” to wind up near the top of the falls. There, they’ll hear (but not see) the falls. It’s well worth the trip for the breathtaking look at the mountains, Antoniazzi said.
“You’re looking from Massachusetts into New York; you’re looking at the Taconic Mountains,” he said.
There’s no cost to visit the park, which also has free parking and restroom facilities.
Kent Falls in Kent, Connecticut
Connecticut waterfalls “have a bunch of personalities, depending on the season,” said Tom Tyler, director of the Connecticut state park system.
A waterfall that’s oozing with personality right now is Kent Falls, Tyler said, because it has the most flow during the springtime. The series of falls on a mountain stream called Fall Brook in Kent Falls State Park is a 250-foot total drop and one of the most photographed locations in the state, Tyler said.
“It’s a beautiful spot over in the Litchfield Hills,” Tyler said. “It’s very accessible and a short walk from the parking area. You walk through a covered bridge to walk up a trail that leads you to the falls.”
Visitors can hike Kent Falls Trail, a quarter-of-a-mile-long trail that winds up the side of the falls. Swimming is not allowed at Kent Falls, but families enjoy picnicking there, Tyler said. There are grills and bathroom facilities.
There is no charge at the park during the week and a $15 charge for out-of-state vehicles at the park on weekends and holidays. Connecticut-registered vehicles are always free.
Moss Glen Falls in Stowe, Vermont
Steven Cook, the deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism, said melting mountain snow makes Vermont waterfalls “a lot bigger and more of an experience” in the spring. Cook, a father of five, said his family particularly enjoys visiting Stowe’s Moss Glen Falls, which are located on the Moss Glen Brook near the CC Putnam State Forest on Moss Glen Falls Road.
“It’s a really high waterfall,” Cook said. “The waterfall is well over 100 feet down into the river below it, which is really pretty spectacular.”
You can get to the falls via a short, easy hike from a free parking area on Moss Glen Falls Road.
“It’s very accessible,” he said. “And there’s some great little spots to wade into the river.”
Note that there’s another Vermont waterfall named Moss Glen Falls, but it’s located in Granville. Cook said both waterfalls are worth a trip.
Slater Mill Dam in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island may not be very mountainous — the state’s highest point is Foster’s Jerimoth Hill, at 812 feet — but the Ocean State still has its share of falls. That said, Mark Brodeur, director of tourism for Rhode Island, said he especially likes the rush of waters from the unnatural falls at the Slater Mill Dam at the Slater Mill Historic Site on the Blackstone River in Pawtucket.
The Slater Mill Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark, is home to the 1793 Slater Mill, America’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill. That makes the area, known as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, both historically significant and beautiful, Brodeur said.
“There are dams that are not naturally occurring waterfalls that are probably some of the most important waterfalls in America,” Brodeur said.
While at the falls, you can tour the Slater Mill and two other historic buildings on the property: the 1810 Wilkinson Mill and the 1758 Sylvanus Brown House.
It’s free to view the falls, but if you want to tour the buildings, the price is $12 for adults, $8.50 for kids age 6 and older, and free for kids under age 6.
Smalls Falls in Township E, Maine
If you’re driving on Route 4 in Maine, make a stop at the Smalls Falls Rest Area just south of the town of Rangeley. You’ll see a gorgeous waterfall, Smalls Falls, right when you pull in and park, said Roger Merchant, a former Maine forester who has lived in the Pine Tree State since 1965.
The 54-foot waterfall, located on the Sandy River in Township E, has a series of four drops, and guests can swim and wade in the water below.
“It’s beautiful,” Merchant said. “The surrounding ledge bedrock contains a variety of colors which are aesthetically interesting.”
Smalls Falls falls is near a shaded, free-to-use picnic area with restrooms, making it a great place to relax with the family, Merchant said.