Ammonoosuc River Waterfalls

Reflection of Mount Washington in Lakes of the Clouds along the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Lakes of the Clouds – Mount Washington, New Hampshire

Ammonoosuc River Waterfalls, White Mountains – Beginning at Lakes of the Clouds on Mount Washington in Sargent’s Purchase, this roughly 55 mile long river travels through a number of towns before draining into the Connecticut River at Woodsville in the town of Haverhill. Ammonoosuc is an Abenaki word meaning “fish place” or “small narrowing fishing place". The Abenaki fished and camped along the river.

Protected under the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program, the Ammonoosuc River is managed in accordance with RSA 483. The portion of the Ammonoosuc River from Lower Falls in Carroll to the Connecticut River in Woodsville was added to the program in 2007. And the portion from Lakes of the Clouds to Lower Falls, known as the Upper Reach watershed, was added to the program in 2009. This work focuses mainly on the Upper Reach section of the river.

Waterfall on Ammonoosuc River in Sargent’s Purchase in the New Hampshire White Mountains. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail passes by this location. This series of cascades used to be known as Captain Dodge’s Cascades.
Captain Dodge’s Cascades – Sargent’s Purchase, New Hampshire

Below Lakes of the Clouds, near the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, in Sargent’s Purchase is a series of cascades known as Captain Dodge’s Cascades. These cascades are named for Caption John W. Dodge of Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. He was the first manager of the second Summit House on Mount Washington; it opened in July 1873 and was destroyed by fire on June 18, 1908.

Upper Ammonoosuc Falls, which are located on the Ammonoosuc River in Crawford's Purchase in the New Hampshire White Mountains
Upper Ammonoosuc Falls – Crawford's Purchase, New Hampshire

The Upper Falls is a roadside attraction along Base Road (the road that leads to the Mount Washington Cog Railway base station) in Crawford's Purchase. During the warmer months, it is one of the more popular swimming holes along the river. However, swimming in this gorge is only possible during times of low water. After heavy rains, and during the spring snowmelt (above), the Upper Falls are impressive, but dangerous.

Middle Ammonoosuc Falls on the Ammonoosuc River in Crawfords Purchase, New Hampshire
Middle Ammonoosuc Falls – Crawford's Purchase, New Hampshire

Also, in Crawford’s Purchase, a short ways downstream from Upper Falls, is Middle Ammonoosuc Falls. From 1876-1931, tourists riding the passenger trains on the Boston and Maine’s Mt. Washington Branch, en route to the base of the Cog Railway, were likley able to see this waterfall from the train as it passed by this location.

The Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire at sunrise during the summer months.
Mount Washington Resort at Sunrise – Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Joseph Stickney built the Mount Washington Resort in the early 1900s, and it opened in 1902. The old Maine Central Railroad and the Boston and Maine’s Mt. Washington Branch both traveled in front of this grand resort. Today, photographers use the Ammonoosuc River as the foreground subject in photographs of the grand resort.

Lower Ammonoosuc Falls on the Ammonoosuc River in Carroll, New Hampshire
Lower Ammonoosuc Falls – Carroll, New Hampshire

In the years around 1880, J.E. Henry built the logging village of Zealand. The village had company houses, charcoal kilns, a store, and a sawmill at Lower Ammonoosuc Falls. Henry would move his logging operations to Lincoln in 1892, and the village of Zealand would burn down before the start of the 20th-century. Little remains of this once thriving 19th-century logging village. Today, lower falls is a popular swimming hole.

Lower Ammonoosuc Falls on the Ammonoosuc River in Carroll, New Hampshire
Just Above Lower Ammonoosuc Falls – Carroll, New Hampshire

While this blog article only covers roughly 12 miles of the scenic and history-rich Ammonoosuc River, this is one river worth exploring. Photographers and nature lovers will love it during the autumn foliage season. And if you enjoy fishing, this river is known for its brook trout.

To license any of the photos in this blog article for publications, click on the photo. View more scenes from along the Ammonoosuc River here.

Happy image making..


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Erin Paul is a professional photographer who specializes in environmental conservation and historic preservation photography in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society.

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