Waterfalls and Garbage

Destination: Alpine Cascade Brook waterfalls

In the History of Coos County, New Hampshire (1888) by George Drew Merrill, there is a series of waterfalls described in Gorham called Alpine Cascades.  Directions say to cross over the Androscoggin River on a wire suspension bridge to a foot path, 75 ft above the river.  The foot path brings you to the lower cascade and pool surrounded by majestic trees.  A set a stairs, 100 ft in length, secured to the rock continues up the rock face to the Imp’s Wash Bowl.  Then further up to a larger pool at a mountain base.

The lower falls of Alpine Cascades.

To get there today, we park near the Water Pollution building on the east side of the river in Berlin, NH.  Follow the old railroad bed south to a path on the left.  Then follow up steeply to the powerline corridor and beyond.  The trail pops you out at what we think is the larger pool in the old description, although today it is a built up dam pool.  People still frequent the area as evidence of camp fires, litter, and graffiti.  Plus, the power line, dam, and buried water pipe under the trail.  But worse of all, there is an odor wafting down the river and in the pools: garbage.  Looking on google maps, we confirmed Andrew’s suspicion that the Berlin landfill was just above us.  Despite all this, we found butterflies, hummingbirds, toads, and macro-invertebrates in the stream.  The woods were lush with mosses, cedars, and ferns.  The smell however, forced us out.

The upper pool is now a dam.

White cedar trees hug the cascades. We got close to one of the falls.

Alpine Cascade upper falls flow into a dammed pool. The smell of garbage discourages any thoughts of swimming in the pools.

We got close to one of the falls.

We found the lower falls on the edge of the power line corridor.  Wonder what those majestic trees looked like in 1888, that were surely cut to make room for the line.    And we wondered how intense the water would flow through here tomorrow when Hurricane Irene was forecasted to reach northern New Hampshire.

The power line opening gives a good view of the lower falls.

The most impressive Alpine Cascades lower falls. At one time, a ladder fastened to the rocks allowed you to walk up from here.

A white admiral butterfly resting on the edge of the rock pool.

Gorham paper mill (Cascade Mill) on the west side of the Androscoggin River with the clouds of Hurricane Irene pushing around the mountains.

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