David Howland Photo

Crawford Notch Waterfalls

13 April 2021

Filed under: White Mountains, Hiking, New Hampshire, Waterfalls

On Day 2 of my first waterfalls trip of the season I spent an overcast and rainy day exploring waterfalls in Crawford Notch State Park. I haven’t spent as much time in Crawford Notch as I have in nearby Franconia Notch or Pinkham Notch. This past winter Crawford Notch has become one of my favorite areas to explore new trails in the White Mountains.

My first stop was at two roadside waterfalls: Flume Cascade and Silver Cascade. Not to be confused with the Flume in Franconia Notch, Flume Cascade is a quick walk uphill from the parking lot. It drops several hundred feet down the flank of Mt. Jackson and crosses under NH Route 302 in a narrow notch. On the day I visited, rain and snowmelt had the cascade roaring down the mountainside. I spent most of my visit battling spray on my camera lens and filters. In places there was too much water moving too quickly for me to explore all the way up the cascade.

Just down the notch from Flume Cascade is the very similar Silver Cascade. Here, the water drops several hundred feet and goes through a several different narrow notches in the rock uphill from the road. I could scramble much farther up this waterfall. The water was spread out over a larger area so it was easier to take photos, as well.

After Flume Cascade I drove farther south through Crawford Notch State Park to the Willey House parking area and the trailhead for the Kedron Flume Trail. The guidebook talks about how Kedron Flume only ever has an inch or two of water flowing through it and is rarely all that impressive. I don’t think the guidebook was anticipating the incredible amount of water flowing out of the high peaks of the White Mountains this spring, though.

Kedron Flume is a short but steep mile and a half hike up from the base of Crawford Notch. The trail crosses the railroad tracks and then climbs up into the pine forests where it crosses Kedron Flume. Downhill from the trail crossing is a steep dropoff with a great view of Webster Cliffs.

It was difficult to find good compositions because of the amount of water flowing over the smooth granite. Upstream was a different story. Here, the water flowing through a narrow notch in the rock (the “flume” part of Kedron Flume) and the banks were steep and covered in loose moss and dirt.

There was one block of ice still hanging on to the rock walls of the flume gorge and what looked like several recently fallen trees hanging over the water. I hiked a ways upstream and the flume opened up into open and steep forest with copious amounts of water cascading down the hillside. The water wasn’t coming down in defined waterfalls so much as the entire forest floor seemed to be a river flowing swiftly towards the notch floor.

Which of these two compositions do you like better? I think I narrowly prefer the “more trees” version on the left because the large diagonal tree in the top corner nicely bounds the photo versus the open space on the right.

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