4 Waterfall Hikes in Southern New Hampshire in the Winter

 

 

Side view of Upper Purgatory Falls

There is no doubt about it, New Hampshire’s White Mountains are home to some pretty amazing waterfalls. But there’s also some spectacular ones in the southern part of the state. Trust me when I say, you’re going to want to put these on your winter weekend trip list!

 

Close up of waterfall some frozen areas in front of falls

View from top side of Tucker Brook Falls looking down at falls

Tucker Brook Falls

The trail to get to Tucker Brook Falls is fairly quick.  The path from the parking lot will lead you across a small bridge and there are a couple of small hills but before long you’ll come to Tucker Brook, soon after that you’ll come to the falls.  I’ve never seen a frozen waterfall in person, so to see them in this state is pretty awesome. You can hear the water rushing behind the frozen cascade and it’s quite mesmerizing.

Stone wall foundation area of old mill on Tucker Brook

Mountain Laurel on trail at Tucker Brook Town Forest

The falls are about a 12 foot drop but seem much larger frozen.  Enjoy the view for a bit then follow the brook further downstream to check out the foundation of an old mill.  There is a great little network of trails here so explore about if you have time.

Location

Tucker Brook Falls is located in Tucker Brook Town Forest off Savage Road in Milford.  Park in the area next to the power lines.  You can access the trail right from the parking area. The Forest itself is 258 acres and is managed by the Milford Conservation Commission.

The Trail

We took the Falls Loop Trail (about .7 miles) which took about 10 minutes to get into the falls. If you follow the brook down to the old mill foundation, you’ll connect with the Brook Trail, which hooks back up with the Falls Loop trail to return you to the parking area.

Level of Difficulty

The terrain is considered easy to moderate. There are a couple of hills but they are fairly short and not difficult to go up and down.

Side view of Lower Purgatory Falls with some frozen cascades

Lower Purgatory Falls

Not far from Tucker Brook is our next stop, Lower Purgatory Falls.  After about a 10 minute walk in, followed by climbing down a bit of an incline, we were there.  And what a sight! Mother Nature has done a spectacular job freezing the cascades of water that you’ll usually find spilling over the rocks and boulders. There are so many great vantage points here, check out the falls from down below up along the side and from the very top.

View from front of Lower Purgatory Falls all cascades frozen

Spend a bit of time listening to the water roaring behind the walls of ice, as loud as it is, there’s something very peaceful and calming.

Upper Purgatory Falls cascades flowing into brook area

Looking down at section of Upper Purgatory Falls as water travels through sculptured rocks

Lower Purgatory Falls is actually a series of falls along Purgatory Brook, build in some extra time to explore Middle and Upper Purgatory Falls while you’re in the area.

Location

We accessed the trail to Lower Purgatory Falls from Old Wilton Road in Lyndeborough. The series of falls in this area span the borders of two towns: Mont Vernon and Lyndeborough. The conservation area where they’re located is managed by the Souhegan Valley Land Trust.

The Trail

From the parking follow the Purgatory Brook Trail (marked by yellow blazes).  The trail is mostly flat and probably took about 10 minutes or so to get to the falls.

Level of Difficulty

The terrain is considered easy to moderate. There are a couple of hills but they are short and fairly easy.

View of Garwin Falls looking from the front

 

View from water level looking up at side of Garwin Falls

Garwin Falls  

The next fall on our list is Garwin Falls, in Wilton. The falls are located just below the outlet of the Old Wilton Reservoir.  You can almost hear the waterfall sounds as soon as you step onto the trail.  The trail goes down a slight incline but in less than 10 minutes we were there.  Talk about a wow factor! The sight this 40 foot waterfall creates in all its frozen glory is simply incredible!

Wide shot of Garwin Falls with water cascades frozen

It makes me wonder what it looks like in the spring when water flow through here is likely at its highest, when the massive curtain of water is plunging down over the rocks. So impressive! Enjoy the view from the bottom of the fall looking up or at one of the photo opp spots along the side.

Trail head area of path that leads to Garwin Falls

Location

Garwin Falls is located off Isaac Frye Highway in Wilton. There’s a small parking area and the trailhead is located right nearby. Be aware parking on nearby roads is prohibited.

Trail and damn area near Garwin Falls

The Trail

Find the trail head from the parking lot, it almost seems more like a narrow road and is very easy walking. You’ll hear some rushing water almost immediately, if you’re not in a rush you can take the side detour over to a small cascade.  But further down the trail is where you’ll find the actual waterfall (about .25 miles), and takes less than ten minutes. You’ll know you’re almost there when you get to the large dam, just beyond that are the falls.

Level of Difficulty

The terrain is easy. If you walk down the bottom of the falls to look up, you will need to go back up the hill to return to the trail and parking area.  But it’s well worth it.

View looking up series of cascades of Senter Falls with water flowing some frozen pieces on the sides of the banks

Close up of cascade with frozen ice along the sides

Senter Falls  

For our final fall of the day we head to out to explore Senter Falls in Lyndeborough. Pick up a trail guide at the trail head and learn a bit about the surroundings at the markers as you make your way through the small 16 acre preserve.  Soon after you get onto the trail, you’ll go over a small wooden bridge. Be sure to keep an eye out for the yellow trail markings.  The trail will come to a split, bear right to head  toward the falls.  You’ll know you’re going the right way if you hear the sound of the rushing water.  You should arrive at the lower part of the falls first.  I’d recommend going to the top of the falls and then work your way down, stopping at one of the many spots that overlook the series of cascades. These falls are spread out but in total make about a 50 foot drop, eventually passing through a small gorge.  What a beautiful spot.

Location

Senter Falls is located in the 16-acre Alan and Edgar Rice Natural Area in Lyndeborough. Take the Second New Hampshire Turnpike South from Francestown (from the junction of Routes 47 and 136), drive about 5.1 miles and turn right onto Lyndeborough Road. Look for the small parking area on the left hand side.

Trail head at start of Alan and Edgar Rice Natural Area

The Trail

The trail to Senter Falls is marked by a sign for the natural area, and it’s a little further up the road from the parking area on the opposite side of the street. For the most part the trail to the falls is pretty flat, (about .2 miles) and will probably take you about 10 minutes to get to the lower part of the falls. If you decide to do the entire loop trail it’s about .6 miles and will include some hills and inclines.

Section of the trail that crosses a small wooden bridge

 

Level of Difficulty

This trail is considered moderate. If you do the entire loop which is about .6 miles it will include some hilly areas and inclines.

Cascades of Senter Falls frozen solid

With the varying temperatures this winter, you might see the falls with a little less ice or a little more.  That’s the beauty of visiting during this time of year.  I’m already planning a trip back to see what they look like in the spring!  Be sure to dress for the conditions, and I would highly recommend wearing micro spikes as there are definitely some areas where you will need them.  Just a reminder to follow our travels throughout the winter on Facebook and Instagram!