This is one of the Best waterfalls in the Northeast



 Abs Mag:


 Beisel Rating:

0.95 (Class 1)


140 feet

 Tallest Drop:

140 feet

 # of Drops:





Bemis Brook






USGS Crawford Notch 7 1/2"


Aerial Photography


44 F4



The falls from the base, click to enlarge

An old postcard image from the archive, click to enlarge

An old postcard image from the archive, click to enlarge



Livermore , Carroll County, NH , USA


No Known Alternate Names



The falls from the base



Arethusa Falls is generally regarded as the highest single drop in New Hampshire. It's not, Dryad Fall is a 300' horsetail, but Arethusa Falls is by far the more spectacular. Bemis Brook drops over a broad orange granitic cliff, capping a 1.5 mile hike along (mostly far above) Bemis Brook. Arethusa's height figure is fairly suspect. Let me offer some clarification before I hear the inevitable hymns of protest. I eyeball the total height at about 140', which is consistent with estimates printed in early editions of the AMC White Mountain Guide. Professor Huntington and Moses Sweetser measured the falls at 176' in 1875. The vertical portion of the falls (that which is visible from the base) is likely about 120' in height. As you descend to the base of the falls from the recently rerouted trail, you cans see some upper slides through the trees. Taking those into account, I'll buy 140' total. At either height, this waterfall is a not-to-be-missed feature of the White Mountains.


Geology and Bedrock Structure:

The cliff over which Arethusa Falls drops is part of the Mount Osceola Granite formation.



Arethusa Falls was discovered by Edward Tuckerman and named by Professor Huntington and Moses Sweetser in 1875. The name comes from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem describing the story of a nymph named Arethusa who was turned into a fountain to avoid being the love conquest of the river god Alpheus. Those lecherous Greek gods of old...


Photography Notes:

This is one of the few waterfalls that might benefit from sun. If you wish to capture the entire waterfall, you'll need the blue sky as a background for the falls. On an overcast day, you may wish to compose your shot without including the brink of the falls as a large gray sky is a less than ideal background. The waters dance over the cliff face making an ideal slow shutter study. A polarizer is necessary, but a warming filter is optional. A fairly wide angle lens will help get the falls in the frame. I used 28mm for this shot. As you can see by my photo, it's decent on an overcast day, but you have a small and ugly chunk of gray sky visible above the brink of the falls.



Arethusa Falls is a well-signed side road off of Route 302 about halfway between Bartlett and the Gates of the Notch. Park in the lot and the falls are about 1.6 miles and 800' vertical feet away, at least that's what the old trail did. The recently rerouted trail picks up another 100 or so vertical feet and another 1/10 of a mile or so. Shortly after you leave the parking log, you'll see a trail junction leading towards Bemis Brook. Here, you will encounter Fawn Pool, Coliseum Falls and Bemis Brook Falls on the parallel trail. I suggest seeing them on the way back from Arethusa because the climb from Bemis Brook Falls back up to the Arethusa Falls trail is a very steep climb over root ladders and erosion. Coming down is not a simple feat either. Special attention should be made to footing as a slip here would result in a nasty fall. I find it easier to go directly to Arethusa, then delicately make your way down to Bemis Brook Falls. I have to take issue with the new trail to the falls however. Obviously, the rerouted trail represents a lot of work, but once it deposits you at the base of the falls, there isn't much to do beyond some slippery scrambling on angular rocks. There isn't really any place to take a seat and admire the view. In my humble opinion, the old trail (which led to the other bank at the base of the falls) offered better sitting rocks and slightly easier mobility near the base of the falls.