Finding Lost NH Waterfalls With Photographer Chris Whiton

Waterfalls quest – having to bushwhack his way only adds to the adventure



Davis Brook Falls

Photo by Chris Whiton

You’ve probably heard of peak baggers, people who spend their leisure time climbing new mountains and adding them to their “climbed” list.

Chris Whiton is a bagger too, but not of mountain peaks. His focus is waterfalls. “I’m an outdoor enthusiast, avid hiker, love local history, love photography and reading old books,” he says. “Looking in old tourist guides, I realized that a lot of waterfalls that used to be attractions have been forgotten. I thought it would be fun to look for them.”

And to photograph them.

After he finds a mention of forgotten falls in a book or on a blog, he consults topographical maps and town records, and talks to locals to see if they have any information.

Once he has an idea of where his latest search might take him, he sets off, usually alone.

Hawthorne Falls in Franconia was one of his early quests. It showed on old maps, but a hurricane had wiped out the trail. “There was no way to get to it except through some thick trees,” Whiton says. “That really piqued my interest.”  He found it and photographed it after bushwhacking his way through.

His favorite is the waterfall in a remote area of Hart’s Location on Davis Brook. “It was something that was hinted at in a not-so-old waterfalls guide,” he says. “In the back of the book, there a something about the possibility of a waterfall in a section of the national forest in Crawford Notch.” It took scaling several steep ravines, but he found the falls. He says they were the most photogenic of any he’s seen — so far, anyway.

If you wonder why falls get forgotten after once being big attractions, Whiton has the answer: hurricanes, re-routed trails and disuse. “Back in the day, it was a big deal to get out in the middle of nowhere — people were looking for that esoteric, sublime experience. Today, people want something that can be reached quickly by car.”

How many falls has he found? “Fifteen or 20, maybe more,” he says. “There’s still a big list of places to look for. The more I check off, the more hints I find of other lost waterfalls waiting to be rediscovered.”


Hawthorne Falls
By Chris Whiton

Chris’ List of Rediscovered Waterfalls

Alpine Cascades, Berlin

Learned about it: Brochures, books, maps
Access: ATV trail
More Iinformation: Major tourist spot a century ago, though now it's forgotten even by most locals

 

Baston Falls, Woodstock

Learned about it: Old guide book
Access: Roadside
More Iinformation: Local swimming hole - the old name is forgotten

 

Bells Cascade, Woodstock

Learned about it: Old guide books and postcards
Access: ATV trail
More Iinformation: Tourist attraction a century ago. Now overgrown in the woods.

 

Birch Island Cascades, Lincoln

Learned about it: Stumbled upon
Access: Bushwhack

 

Blue Ravine Cascades, Benton

Learned about it: Mentioned by a local resident
Access: Ravine bushwhack
More Iinformation: Mentioned by a local hiker. Followed a hidden ravine to find many nice drops.

 

Bowls and Pitchers, Shelburne

Learned about it: Current new trail
Access: New trail
More Iinformation: Mentioned in old books - new modern trail rebuilt last year.

 

The Cascades, Woodstock

Learned about it: Old maps and guides
Access: Almost roadside
More Iinformation: Shows on an old map from 1899 hanging in Woodstock town office.

 

Charlie's Falls, Franconia

Learned about it: Stumbled upon. Name from local source
Access: Ravine bushwhack
More Iinformation: Deep in Mount Lafayette brook.

 

Cuba Falls, Orford

Learned about it: Rediscovered by a hiking friend
Access: Old road
More Iinformation: Only mentioned in old DOC guides. Found again by a hiking friend.

 

Davis Brook Falls, Hart's Location

Learned about it: Mention in an old book
Access: Ravine bushwhack
More Iinformation: A series of three large waterfalls on hard-to-access Davis Brook

 

Dixie Falls, Dix’s Grant

Learned about it: Old logging book
Access: Logging road
More Iinformation: One mention in an old book about the logging days

 

Ellens Falls, Albany

Learned about it: Maps, current Internet info.
Access: Old road, path
More Iinformation: On many maps, but no official trail

 

Green Cascade, Waterville Valley

Learned about it: Rediscovered by hiking friend
Access: Bushwhack
More Iinformation: Old Waterville maps show this spot

 

Hawthorne Falls, Franconia

Learned about it: Old maps, guides and current Internet information
Access: Ravine bushwhack
More Iinformation: Hurricane of 38 washed out old trail and it was never rebuilt. Showed on maps until recent years.

 

Holden Falls, Franconia

Learned about it: One mention and a photo in an old book
Access: Bushwhack

 

Jackman Falls, Woodstock

Learned about it: Old books and maps
Access: Bushwhack
More Iinformation: Old trail in the 1800s vanished long ago

 

Langtons Cascades, Franconia

Learned about it: Old guide books
Access: Trail
More Iinformation: Old name for Liberty Cascades before Flume

 

Little Garfield Falls, Atkinson & Gilmanton Grant

Learned about it: Mention in Dartmouth guide
Access: Roadside

 

Long Island Rapids, Pinkham Notch

Learned about it: Most current maps show this feature
Access: Bushwhack

 

Loon Pond Mountain Cascades, Woodstock

Learned about it: Old guide books
Access: Bushwhack
More Iinformation: Not on Loon Pond brook as previously thought. Found on other side of the mountain.

 

MacKeanon Falls, Woodstock

Learned about it: Maps, mention in an old book
Access: Bushwhack

 

Marian Falls, Low & Burbanks Grant

Learned about it: Old waterfall book
Access: Bushwhack

 

McNorton Falls, Woodstock

Learned about it: Old guide book, history book
Access: Roadside

 

Mill Brook Cascade, West Thornton

Learned about it: Old tourist brochure
Access: Old road
More Iinformation: Glacier Park used to be a major tourist spot. Now, overgrown and forgotten

 

Mini Flume, Franconia

Learned about it: Stumbled upon
Access: Bushwhack

 

Moose Falls, Pittsburg

Learned about it: Old maps
Access: Flooded - now covered by water from new dam.

 

Moose Falls, Woodstock

Learned about it: Local spot
Access: Old road

 

Noble Falls, Franconia

Learned about it: One mention and photo in an old book
Access: Bushwhack, path

 

Pleiades Cascades, Woodstock

Learned about it: Old guide books, old maps
Access: Ravine bushwhack
More Iinformation: Old trail is long gone

 

Plimpton Falls, Franconia

Learned about it: One mention/photo on old postcard
Access: Bushwhack
More Iinformation: Only shown on an old postcard. Lucky chance finding this one.

 

Rollo Falls, Randolph

Learned about it: Old guide books, maps
Access: Bushwhack

 

Rose Garland Falls, Warren

Learned about it: Old AMC maps, 1800s railroad guide
Access: Bushwhack
More Iinformation: Photo and mention in an old RR guide. Two days of wandering brooks to find.

 

Scott's Cascades, Crawford Notch

Learned about it: Rediscovered by hiking friend
Access: Bushwhack
More Iinformation: Discovered by A.E. Scott, AMC Councilor of Improvements, in 1882

 

Shell Cascade, Waterville Valley

Learned about it: Most current maps show this feature
Access: Bushwhack
More Iinformation: On many maps shown along brook with no trail or road.

 

Sparkling Cascade, Livermore

Learned about it: Old guide books
Access: Bushwhack

 

Talford Brook Mill Cascade, Thornton

Learned about it: Mentioned in history book
Access: Old road
More Iinformation: Old mill and settlement used to be here. Ruins still remain.

 

Thorndike Fall, Low & Burbanks Grant

Learned about it: Old waterfall book
Access: Bushwhack

 

Towle Falls, Waterville Valley

Learned about it: Rediscovered by hiking friend
Access: Bushwhack

 

West Branch Brook Cascade, Campton

Learned about it: Mentioned in an old bike path book
Access: Old road

 

Zealand Falls (original), Bethlehem

Learned about it: Rediscovered by hiking friend
Access: Road/short bushwhack
More Iinformation: Zealand Falls was later given as the name to a waterfall two miles away. This one was forgotten.

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