The Ultimate Crawford Notch State Park Day Trip

Water flowing down Silver Cascade in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @herookphotography on Instagram

Table of Contents

Crawford Notch State Park features some of the most beautiful sights in all of New Hampshire. The 5,775-acre state park is home to numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, lakes, overlooks, rivers, and historic structures. People from all over the world flock to Crawford Notch to enjoy its beauty. The park gets most popular during the fall when the foliage is peaking. If you hope to see the fall colors, try visiting from mid-September through late October.

This blog post covers all the best spots to go explore in Crawford Notch State Park. Many of these spots can be seen right from the highway but a hike is required for others. Keep reading to learn more about each spot! We also included a Google Map which will lead you from the northern section of the park to the southern section with all spots included.

Driving Directions:

Link to directions

Stop #1 – Omni Mount Washington Resort

Omni Mount Washington Resort in Carroll, New Hampshire
Photo by @meredithlewisphotography on Instagram

Town: Bretton Woods, Carroll, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

When it comes to hotels in New Hampshire, the most iconic is the Omni Mount Washington Resort. The massive hotel sits right off US-302 in a valley with the Twin Range to the west and Mount Washington to the east. It is a joy to photograph the hotel because of the mountain ranges surrounding it. It is especially stunning during the fall when foliage appears.

Joseph Stickney, a native of Concord, New Hampshire, who acquired a fortune as a coal broker in Pennsylvania, built the hotel between 1900 and 1902 for $1.7 million (about $52,884,000 today). To construct the y-shaped hotel, he hired in 250 Italian workers, mainly for the granite and stucco brickwork. The Mount Washington Hotel and Resort is one of the few grand hotels in the White Mountains that has remained. It also includes an 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course and a 9-hole A.H. Findlay-designed course. It is known worldwide as the site of the Bretton Woods Conference. In 1986, the hotel was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Learn more about the Omni Mount Washington Resort

Stop #2 – Upper Ammonoosuc Falls

Upper Ammonoosuc Falls in Carroll, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @brykdelaney on Instagram

Town: Carroll, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

The Upper Falls is a beautiful roadside sight in Crawford’s Purchase located along Base Road (the road that connects to the Mount Washington Cog Railway base station). The waterfall is powered by the Ammonoosuc River which is fueled by runoff from Mount Washington. Surrounding the waterfall are a lovely array of canyons, rocks, cliffs, and basins. The Upper Falls’ tallest plunge is only 8 feet but there are several additional drops.

Learn more about the Upper Ammonoosuc Falls

Stop #3 – Crawford Depot

Exterior view of the Crawford Depot during fall in Carroll, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @mikel.photoz on Instagram

Town: Carroll, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

The Crawford Depot, also known as Crawford Notch Station, is a historic passenger railroad station that was built in 1891. It is one of the last remaining symbols of the railroad’s significance to the area’s history as a travel destination. It is also one of northern New England’s finest examples of Queen Anne railroad architecture. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is now the site of a visitors center run by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Additionally, it serves as the northern terminal for the majority of Conway Scenic Railroad’s “Notch Train” services. Furthermore, it is a great place to park at to then hike to Pearl Cascade, Centennial Pool, Mount Willard, and Saco Lake.

Learn more about the historic Crawford Depot

Stop #4 – Pearl Cascade

Flowing water at the Pearl Cascade in Carroll, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Pearl Cascade” by emmarsheehan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Town: Carroll, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

Pearl Cascade is a stunning waterfall located on Crawford Brook, a mountain stream formed from Mount Field. Pearl Cascade drops about 20 feet in a fan formation. Below the cascade is a wonderful swimming hole which is about 5 feet deep in the center. The pool is a great spot to cool down during a hike or to let a dog swim around. Be sure to also check out Beecher Cascade which is a few hundred feet away.

Stop #5 – Centennial Pool Falls

Flowing water at Centennial Pool Falls surronded by fall foliage in Carroll, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @kevin_owens_photography on Instagram

Town: Carroll, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

Centennial Pool is a wonderful waterfall to check out during a hike up Mount Willard. The waterfall is located about a half mile from the Mount Willard Trailhead and it sits at the sharp turn in the trail. Many people do not know about Centennial Pool because it is just off the main trail and there is little to no signage.

Learn more about Centennial Pool Falls

Stop #6 – Mount Willard

View from the summit of Mount Willard in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @jpicard_1713 on Instagram

Town: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

Mount Willard offers some of the best views of Crawford Notch State Park. The mountain summit faces south and allows visitors to admire the highway and train track cutting straight through the gorgeous mountain ranges. The view during the fall season is truly spectacular as the trees turn amazing shades of red, yellow, and orange. Mount Willard is well worth the hike!

Learn more about the iconic Mount Willard

Stop #7 – Saco Lake

Saco Lake in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Saco Lake” by Dirtman’s Images is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Town: Carroll, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

Saco Lake is located right near Crawford Notch Depot and the trailhead to Mount Willard. Visitors can enjoy walking around Saco Lake which is about 0.5 mile out-and-back. Beautiful views can be had of the surronding mountains and the lake. Most photographers love visiting the lake during the fall season to enjoy the epic foliage of Crawford Notch and the reflections off the lake.

Stop #8 – Elephant Rock and Bugle Cliff

Elephant Head in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Crawford Notch, New Hampshire” by Jasperdo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Town: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Location Directions: Elephant Rock Location HERE and Bugle Cliff HERE

Elephant Rock and Bugle Cliff are two awesome outlooks located right near Saco Lake in Crawford Notch State Park. The outlooks can be reached via short hikes, which makes them popular among families with younger kids or people with dogs.

Stop #9 – Flume Cascade

Water flowing down Flume Cascade in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @denverslens on Instagram

Town: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

Flume Cascade is a spectacular waterfall that can be viewed right from Route 302 in Hart’s Location. Flume Cascade is a 300-foot waterfall that consists of cascades and plunges. It flows right into the Saco River. If you are looking to get a closer view of the water, there is a large parking lot located across the highway from the waterfall. It is definitely one of the best roadside waterfalls you will find!

Learn more about Flume Cascade

Stop #10 – Silver Cascade

Water flowing down Silver Cascade in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @herookphotography on Instagram

Town: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

Silver Cascade is located right next to Flume Cascade and it looks very similar. It also drops about 300 feet via a series of plunges and cascades. Visitors can see the waterfall from the road, or park at the same parking lot used by Flume Cascade visitors. Be sure to stop at both!

Learn more about the epic Silver Cascade

Stop #11 – Willey House Dam

Town: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

The Willey House Dam is a lovely historic and wooden structure located at the Willey House Historical site. The dam was built to control the flow of the Saco River and a bridge was built over the dam to allow for visitors to walk over it. There is a small pond on one side of the dam which has become popular among photographers and fishers.

Stop #12 – Ripley Falls

Water flowing down Ripley Falls in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Ripley Falls” by spaceyjessie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Town: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

Ripley Falls is a massive waterfall that can be found along Avalanche Brook in the southern section of Crawford Notch State Park. The waterfall drops about 100 feet and features horsetails and slides. The rock wall has a 60 degree angle which allows water to maintain contact to the surface for nearly its whole journey down to the base. It is also relatively easy to access as it is 1 mile out-and-back trail.

Stop #13 – Frankenstein Trestle

Drone view of Frankenstein Trestle during the fall foliage in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @will_zimm_ on Instagram

Town: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

The Frankenstein Trestle is located in Crawford Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, along the old Maine Central Railroad. The trestle’s historical marker can be seen near the Dry River Campground on Route 302. Godfrey Frankenstein, a German-born artist who spent time painting in the Crawford Notch area during the 1800s, is commemorated by the trestle.

The current wrought iron trestle was constructed in 1893 to replace the first wrought iron trestle constructed in 1875. To meet the increasing train weights, the trestle was rebuilt in 1930 and 1950. It’s a fascinating piece of railroad history as well as a beautiful spot to photograph fall foliage!

Learn about the iconic Frankenstein Trestle

Stop #14 – Coliseum Falls

Coliseum Falls in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @mirko.markovic on Instagram

Town: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

Coliseum Falls is a great 20-foot tiered cascade located in Crawford Notch State Park in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The waterfall is located along the Bemis Brook Trail and is .25 miles from the trailhead. The hike to Coliseum Falls is rather easy and it only takes about 10-15 minutes. When viewing the falls, go to the base of the falls so you can admire all the cascades together.

Learn more about Coliseum Falls

Stop #15 – Arethusa Falls

Water flowing down Arethusa Falls in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire within Crawford Notch State Park
Photo by @fletchermphoto on Instagram

Town: Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
Location Directions: HERE

Arethusa Falls, located near the southern end of Crawford Notch State Park along Route 302 in Harts Location, is widely recognized as New Hampshire’s most beautiful waterfall. It’s difficult to argue with someone who has stood at the base of this gigantic waterfall. However, there is some disagreement about the height of the plunge, which is thought to be the highest in New Hampshire. The falls are listed as “nearly 200 feet” in AMC’s White Mountain Guide, whereas New England Waterfalls estimates 160 feet. Either way, it’s big and beautiful!

Learn more about the massive Arethusa Falls

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Tom Riley

Hi! I'm Tom. I am the creator of GoXplr. I started this website with a focus on helping people explore better and explore more. I am based in New England and obsessed with traveling. Here at GoXplr, you will find expert blog posts and also maps containing all of the best places to explore. These blogs and maps have taken thousands of hours to complete. I hope you enjoy this resource and it inspires you to get out and explore!

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