We have tried on multiple occasions to take the short (0.9 miles) hike up to Winnewata Falls off of Route 16 in Jackson, NH. Andrew visited the falls once many years ago, and seemed to remember snowshoeing to a modest cascade. However less than 200 feet into the hike, you have to cross the Ellis River. It isn’t a very deep or wide river, but if you aren’t prepared to get wet, or it’s cold outside, you won’t make it very far. In the winter we tried stopping several times, hoping that the snow and ice would make it easy to get to the other side with skis or snowshoes, but the river rarely freezes completely, and it looks more dangerous trying to jump from ice block to snow block. We also tried to cross one day in the fall, but several days of rain storms had raised the water level and current so much that we were hesitant to cross. Not to mention the fact that we always tried this while on our way to conduct errands in the metropolis below the notch. So, this time we planned ahead, knew the water level would be low and prepared to take our boots off to cross the Ellis River.
Lindsay brought her teva sandals while Andrew preferred to go barefoot. The rocks were slippery and the current was surprisingly strong.
The trail after the water crossing is an old logging road with an easy grade. The trails are used for cross-country skiing in the winter from Dana Place Inn or from Jackson, NH.
We passed a couple with two dogs with full hiking gear, even the dogs had packs. They must have hiked further than Winnewata Falls. The trail follows alongside Miles Brook which flows into the Ellis River. After 15 minutes or so, the trail swings close to the water again with some bootleg trails to pretty cascades. We checked the map and gps to find out if we had made it to Winnewata Falls. It looked close and we walked up the trail further to see if there were any more dramatic falls. We never found a sign that indicated we were there, but our maps said that we were there, or maybe a little above now. This must be the falls.
It was a hot day and we felt compelled to stay close to the water and enjoy a break on a ledge island mid-stream. Instead of taking the trail back down we decided to follow the brook back down for a little while. We rock hopped along the edge as best we could, but sometimes we were forced to walk into the woods to get around a cliff. We were in no rush to get home so we slowly made our way down the brook, stopping often and enjoying ourselves.
Following the brook is the best way to travel along these falls. Many hidden pools and cascades in this stretch would never be seen if we stuck to the trail that swung away far from the brook. It was slow going but worth the views.
After a 1/4 mile or so, we scrambled back to the trail and took the leisurely walk back to the Ellis River. We crossed to the other side, happy that we had finally made it to Winnewata Falls after a seemingly endless legacy of failed attempts.