Cascade Brook
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:Boulder Path Road, Waterville Valley
Hours:No posted hours
Fee: Free for day use; contact Snow’s Mountain Chairlift for current lift ticket pricing

White Mountain National Forest, 603-536-6100,; Snow’s Mountain Chairlift, 603-236-4807,

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

USGS Waterville Valley quad; AMC White Mountain National Forest Map & Guide, J6 (AMC); map available May–October at the base of the chairlift

Perfect on a hot summer day, this pleasant walk cuts through the woods to a string of some of the state’s finest swimming holes.

Take a dip in the Cascades after ascending a ski trail in summer.

There are many brooks named Cascade Brook in New Hampshire, but on a hot summer day, this is the best one. This short hike leads to a string of swimming holes and rock waterslides. Plan for plenty of time to relax and swim—you won’t want to leave!

The first and best option to reach Upper Snows Mountain Trail and the pools (described in detail here) is to simply hike up the abandoned ski trails of Snow’s Mountain. These trails are sunny, wide open, and dotted with blueberries. While the ski area has been closed for decades, the chairlift here runs June through October, bringing mountain bikers and hikers up to the top. You can ride the lift instead to take 1.0 mile off the round-trip hike.

From the parking lot, stay right and walk up your choice of the abandoned ski trails—they all lead to the top of the ski lift (0.5 mile). To the right of the bottom of the lift is Phil’s Hill Training Center, an artificial ski slope used year-round by Olympic and X-Games athletes to practice massive aerial flips and twists.

Continue up the ski trails, picking blueberries along the way if you’re visiting between June and August. At the top of the lift there are a couple of picnic tables that make a great rest stop. Head right into the woods on Upper Snows Mountain Trail, which is actually an abandoned woods road that gradually descends to Cascade Brook. Mountain bikers also use this trail, so keep an ear out for bikes behind you. After 0.8 mile, this pleasant and wide trail arrives at a bridge over Cascade Brook. Take a left immediately before the bridge onto Cascade Brook Trail.

After a couple hundred yards, you will come to the first of many swimming holes on your right (1.6 miles). The first swimming hole is our favorite, with perfect jumping spots from 2 to 6 feet above the water’s surface. The water is crystal clear and emerald tinted, and feels just like paradise on a hot summer day. Stick your head under the cascade for a backcountry shower, or if you time your trip to arrive midday, sun yourself on the rock slabs (the slabs are shady the rest of the day).

Continue on down Cascade Brook Trail for at least three other swimming holes within the next 0.25 mile, all with good jumping, slabs, and even some rock slides for the adventurous. Reaching some of them will require crossing the brook and finding the best path down. You can spend hours here in a Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn state of mind, swimming, sunning, jumping, and relaxing. If you are ever able to pull yourself away, just return the way you came.

Plan B:
Hunt down your very own secret fishing and swimming spots. Just drive along NH 49 from Waterville Valley along the Mad River and park at one of the many gravel pull-offs and start exploring your way up or down the river.
Where to Eat Nearby:

Great dining options abound in this area. Waterville Valley has many restaurants, ice cream shops, and a pizza parlor. A few good taverns, restaurants, and ice cream stands can be found in Campton near the intersection of NH 49 and NH 175, and nearby Ashland has very good options as well.


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